Pastors, like any person sin. While this may be surprising for some people as they put their pastors and their wife on a pedestal, it is true. Because of the nature of being a pastor and the life they live, their sins are often not obvious and ones that no one will ever know about. In fact, some of the most hurtful and dangerous sins are ones that a church and elders can unknowingly encourage. These sins are not in any particular order, just the order I wrote them in.
So far we’ve covered:
- Your Bible is for more than just sermon prep.
- A pastor being untouchable.
- The pastor’s family.
- The need to be needed.
- Giving away too much at home.
The sixth sin that many pastors deal with is the sin of being lazy.
Not exercising or eating well. Pastors are notoriously overweight. The reasons for this are many. Most of our meetings happen at Starbucks or over a meal. There is snack sitting around at every church function and feeding more than 4 people is hard to do in a healthy way. This may be a symptom of poor planning, bad eating habits or a lack of self-control. I speak from experience on this as I used to weigh 300 pounds.
Not making enough money. Many pastors are underpaid. This can be because the church doesn’t have the money. Or, as is often the case, the church doesn’t pay well enough. Too many elder teams still hold to a poverty theology when it comes to their pastors, as if this will teach them humility. If you think your pastor needs to learn humility, you shouldn’t have hired him in the first place. 1 Timothy 5:17-18 says: “The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, ‘Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain and, the worker is worthy of his wages.” By no means should a pastor be overly wealthy and most pastors do not go into ministry for the money, but they should be paid well. A pastor should be paid like others in his church.
Not having structure in the church to stay on task. Many pastors do not stay on task well. They struggle to close their office door and get things done. You should have times that cannot be interrupted. If you need to get out of your office to not be disturbed, do that. Go to Starbucks or work from home on your sermon. Set a time that you begin work and end work and stick to that. Decide when you are most alert and creative and do your sermon work then. For me, that is the morning. Nothing intrudes on my morning. All my meetings happen in the afternoon and evening because the elders have stated to me the most important thing I do centers on my sermon.
Here are a few ways to fight this:
- Make an exercise and eating plan. Find something, join a Crossfit box, make an eating plan and stick to it. Decide that you will start losing weight and eating better. One of the ways to do that when you go out is to know what you are going to eat when you go to a restaurant so you don’t even need to see the menu and the tantalizing pictures of food you shouldn’t eat. When you eat out, order first so you aren’t swayed by what others order (this has huge implications if you order after someone), try it sometime.
- Get accountability on that plan. Go public with your plan. If you are planning to eat a certain or exercise, tell others about it. Have them hold you accountable.
- Ask for a raise. If you need to make more to provide for your family, ask for it. Lead up in this area to your elders. If they are a stone wall and want to keep you humble, pray that God will change their hearts. If they stay closed off to you and you feel God has released you, look for a new job.
- Elders and money. If you are an elder and have the power to give a raise to a pastor, ask yourself, “How would I want this elder team to treat me and my finances if I was the pastor?” Changes the discussion when you put yourself in the position of receiving money. Bottom line for elders, one of the main reasons pastors leave churches is so they can provide better for their families. Before you get angry about that, everyone in your church switches companies for the same reason.
- Create structure. Have a start and end time to work. Have a to-do list, the 2-3 things you have to accomplish everyday for today to be worth it and get those 2-3 things done each day.