Posts Tagged ‘hating a pastor’

That doesn’t sound right, does it … why do some churchgoers hate their pastor?

Aren’t God’s people supposed to love their pastor instead?

Well, yes, most Christians do love their pastor, which is why they attend the church they do.

But the truth is that some Christians grow to despise their pastor over time … and when they act on their hatred, they have the capacity to destroy themselves … their pastor … and their congregation.

How do I know this?

I haven’t interviewed an extensive number of church attendees about pastor-hatred, and I haven’t seen any studies along this line.

After all, which Christians would honestly confess to a survey taker that they hate their pastor?

But I have spoken with numerous pastors about this problem … and have encountered individuals who hated me during my 36 years in church ministry.

And when one reflects upon how some parishioners act toward their pastor, hatred is the only possible explanation … and this is a primary factor in the large number of forced terminations in the wider Christian community.

So why do some believers hate their minister?

First, the pastor represents God to them.

The pastor is a man of God … who speaks from the Word of God … with the power of the Spirit of God … inside the church of God.

You would think that everyone would appreciate and welcome this phenomena, but that’s not true.

I once preached through the Gospel of Mark, and came to chapter 6, where King Herod beheaded John the Baptist.

That Sunday, an antagonist who had left the church a year before returned and sat twenty feet away from me with his arms crossed.

After the service, he complained to the board chairman that I had aimed the message directly at him.  The board chairman said, “Look at the bulletin.  Jim was in Mark 5 last week, and he’s in Mark 6 this week.”

But the antagonist was convinced that I was preaching at him, and his animosity toward me grew even greater.

It was only a matter of time before he led a rebellion against me.

When people aren’t leading a righteous life, the simple preaching of God’s Word may cause them to repent and change … or rebel even more.

And in such cases, that rebellion isn’t against the pastor, but the God the pastor represents.

But God is unapproachable, hidden away in heaven, and the pastor is right there in the flesh, available and visible … and in some strange way, taking him down is a way of taking God down.

Second, the pastor reminds them of an authority figure.

Maybe the pastor looks a little like their dad … or he has a similar sense of humor to an abusive boss … or his voice and mannerisms make them recall a former professor.

When you’re a pastor, you can’t possibly know who feels this way about you … nor should you know.  You need to be yourself when you preach, not somebody else.

I would think that someone who feels this way would want to leave the church, but much of the time, they’ll stay and stew if the rest of their family likes the pastor.

When I was growing up, pastors were definitely authority figures.  In our day, many pastors want to be liked so much that they bend over backwards to come off as friends, not leaders.

But when a pastor has a strong personality and makes bold statements, you’ll usually find some rebellion … and even some hatred.

Third, the pastor consistently tells them how to live.

Who has this role in our culture?

I can only think of two individuals … parents and pastors.

School teachers instruct their students in academic subjects.  Employers insist that workers do their jobs.  Uncle Sam wants to make sure that citizens comply with the law.

But which authority figures in our society have the role of “all-around life coach?”

Once a person leaves home, there’s only one possibility … a pastor.

When a pastor is doing his job, he’s preaching on what God’s Word says about marriage … raising kids … obeying the government … being faithful in the marketplace … observing ethical guidelines … and relating wisely to God.

You can welcome the pastor’s role … as most people do … or you can resent his role … as some do.

I think of the comment made about Jesus on the day of His crucifixion, when the crowd said, “We will not have this man to rule over us!”

Translation: we’re not going to follow His teaching.  It’s too challenging and convicting … and worst of all, we’ll have to change the way we live … and we’re not about to do that!

And when a pastor talks about surrendering your life to the Lordship of Christ, that’s precisely what some people refuse to do … and some might even be church leaders!

What did they do with Jesus?  They got rid of Him … and twenty centuries later, things haven’t changed all that much.

Fourth, the pastor hurt them in some fashion.

Maybe it was something he said from the pulpit … or something he said in passing on the patio … or something he said in a counseling session … or even something he said in a board meeting.

Whatever the pastor said, he probably doesn’t know about it … and won’t be given the opportunity to clarify his remarks or make things right.

Some people who become hurt by others ruminate on their wound.  They rehearse it over and over … work themselves into a tizzy … and tell everyone how badly they were treated.

Some stop going to church altogether.  Some leave that particular church.  Some only attend periodically.

But some are determined that they are going to stay … and their pastor has got to go.

Before I left my last ministry, I was told that someone absolutely hated me.  I never found out what I did or said to make them hate me … and if I guessed, I’d probably be wrong … but I’m confident that hatred spread to others.

Hatred always does.

In fact, a primary reason why some people hate their pastor is that one or two of their friends hate him … and to stay friends, they need to comply with that hatred rather than challenge it.

Finally, the pastor possesses inferior knowledge … skills … and leadership ability.

Some churchgoers believe that if they could trade places with their pastor, their church would become much more efficient and successful.

These people imagine themselves preaching better than their pastor … leading better than him … and managing the church plant and finances in a manner superior to him.

Some of these individuals were called to the ministry years before, but resisted that call … and now they feel guilty.

So when they notice something around the church that isn’t going well, they imagine what would happen if they were in charge … and they tightly embrace that thought.

And in some cases, it’s true … they probably could surpass the pastor’s talent level in some key areas.

But God didn’t call them to lead or pastor their congregation.  God called their current pastor … and if they don’t like it, they should leave, not him … because chances are good that most people love their pastor.

I don’t revel in discussing issues like these, but somebody has to do it, because there’s far more hatred directed at pastors in our day than we realize.

Pastors can sometimes feel that hatred … especially while preaching … but other times, it’s cleverly disguised.

My hope is to start people thinking … conversing … and interacting with one another … so we can devise biblical, honest, and loving ways to deal with these issues in the church of Jesus Christ.

I’m sure I didn’t exhaust the reasons why some people hate their pastor.

What reasons can you think of?

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