Posts Tagged ‘why some people hate their pastor’

Fifteen years ago, I was called to become the associate pastor of a church led by a pastor friend.  If things went well, the plan was for me to become the senior pastor after he retired.

And things went well … most of the time.

I went to the church with one primary agenda:

I wanted to get along with everybody … including the senior pastor … the other staff members … members of the church board … the children, youth, and seniors … and everyone else.

So I worked harder than normal at relationships, and tried not to give people any reasons to dislike me.

As always, my go-to verse concerning relationships was Romans 12:18: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

From my angle, I listened well … tried to understand where people were coming from … monitored my speech … and worked hard to address people’s genuine concerns.

And yet when I left that church nearly 11 years later, some people hated me anyway.

Why do some people dislike their pastor so much?

Let me offer 4 possible reasons among many:

First, some people want a different kind of pastor.

On my initial visit to the church, my wife and I were scheduled to meet with the church board for an interview on Saturday morning.

The night before, the church treasurer … who sat on the board … resigned and announced he was leaving the church.

And he hadn’t even met me!

Why did he leave?  Because he wanted the church to hire an associate from a specific liberal seminary … and that was never going to happen in that evangelical church.

Had this individual stayed at the church, he might have caused all kinds of trouble.

Some people will never like their pastor because he isn’t ideal in their eyes …

But if the pastor is going to be faithful to his calling, there’s nothing he can do about it.

Second, some people want full access to their pastor.

Before my first board meeting, the pastor asked me to lead a discussion in the meeting from a chapter in a book the board was reading.

After I asked one question, a board member responded, “Who cares?  Next question!”

I had barely started, and this board member was already on my case!

It didn’t take long to discover that in his eyes, I was a terrible preacher … my ideas were unworkable … and my ministry philosophy was crazy.

And he let others know how he felt.

I tried to talk to him …. suggested we have lunch together …  but there was no interest.

Before I came, this man had full access to the pastor.  After I came, he lost some of that access because of my new position.

This gentleman wanted similar access to me after I became pastor, but he couldn’t imagine it happening … so he strongly disliked me … and eventually left.

Pastors need to be accountable … first to God … and then to the church board … but not to individuals on that board.

And when the pastor obeys God first, some leaders may very well hate him …

But if the pastor is going to be faithful to his calling, there’s nothing he can do about it.

Third, some people take offense at statements the pastor makes.

Last Sunday in Rome’s Vatican Square, the Pope went “off script” and delivered his homily off-the-cuff.  Many people praised the Pope for this approach.

But many pastors prepare a manuscript of their messages because they need structure when they speak.

My best lines often came when I was unscripted … but that’s when I was susceptible to saying stupid things, too.

One time, I made a statement … with passion … about a topic I felt strongly about.  I could have … and should have … said it better.

One couple were outraged by my statement.  They demanded that I apologize to them.

Although pastors are not infallible while speaking, apologizing for what you’ve said in the pulpit sets a bad precedent, especially since someone is always offended by God’s Word.

(How would you feel if your pastor began every few sermons with this statement: “I want to apologize for something I said last Sunday?”)

But this couple wouldn’t let up.  They complained to the church board … but the board supported me.  They then wrote the board a letter … and the board still supported me.

So this couple left the church … and we were all relieved.

Yet even when a pastor speaks the truth in love, somebody isn’t going to like it … and they’re going to dislike the pastor in return …

But if the pastor is going to be faithful to his calling, there’s nothing he can do about it.

Finally, some people violently disagree with their pastor’s decisions.

Whenever I made major decisions as a pastor, I solicited input and sought the approval of the staff and board … but some people still thought I was a dictator anyway.

One time, I wanted to make changes in our Sunday services.  I took my time and asked for input … drew up seven brief guidelines … and presented them to the board for approval.

They were all approved.

But a relative of one of the board members didn’t like the guidelines.  She became angry … and let others know how she felt.

I liked her.  And I met with her … listened to her … explained my position … which she seemed to understand … and asked if she would contact me if she had any other concerns.

She promised me she would … but her disagreement morphed into hatred.  She proceeded to engage in sabotage, eventually leaving the church in anger … and I never saw her again.

Was there anything I could have done to salvage that relationship?

Some laymen might say yes.  Many pastors would say no …

But if the pastor is going to be faithful to his calling, there’s nothing he can do about it.

If you don’t like your pastor … and you’re tempted to spread your feelings to others … please leave your church instead … quietly.

And if you’re a pastor who wants everybody to like you … please choose another profession.

The night before He died, Jesus warned His disciples, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first…. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18, 20).

The world hates Jesus’ followers.  I get it.

But I will never understand why some Christians hate Jesus’ appointed and anointed servants: pastors.

And I don’t think Jesus understands it, either.

Do you?














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