Tired of the pastor you have? Ready to get someone new behind the pulpit but that stubborn preacher you’ve got now just keeps hanging around? Well, have I got the solution for you! There’s one surefire way to get that pesky old pastor to move on to other pastures, and it’s a tried and true technique that’s been working for thousands of years! The answer to your problem? Grumbling. That’s it! It’s so simple. Just make sure to every day take a few minutes to grumble and complain to another church member about something you dislike, no matter how small or insignificant, just make sure to do it behind your pastor’s back. Don’t worry, eventually most every negative thing said comes back around to the pastor, but the added bonus is that he won’t know who said it!
Okay. I’ll stop the sarcasm and drama. Obviously, I’m going a bit overboard with this in order to make a point (although, I am a little worried that some one might be really looking for ways to get rid of a pastor) but there’s truth behind my joke. I’ve got pretty thick skin, and so I can fairly easily let a negative criticism roll off my back, but over time it does begin to have an effect. I’ve been in the ministry for thirteen years now, I have never known a season where there wasn’t at least some grumbling going on in the background. What’s more is that I know I’m not alone. Almost every friend I have in the ministry shares the same story. Each of us hear the whispers and rumors of the things that people don’t like and that get’s old after awhile. In fact, I watched several dear friends get completely torn up by such issues and leave the ministry all together.
If you are a member of a church, any Bible-believing, Jesus-preaching church, let me tell you a little secret from us pastors. It’s not the complaints we can’t handle. The real problem occurs when you won’t come and talk to us directly and seek resolution! When a church body cultivates a habit of grumbling there will undoubtedly come a time when the pastor has had enough.
Think back with me for a moment to the time when the Israelites were wandering in the dessert. What activity does Scripture constantly show them doing? GRUMBLING!!! Over and over again the Bible records the people whining and complaining about the tough circumstances they encountered. They cried out to go back to Egypt where at least they had food and water (I guess they didn’t appreciate God’s cooking) and had homes to live in. I laugh when I notice that they never once mentioned in their complaining about how they would be walking back into slavery!
On several occasions, Moses became so frustrated, hurt, angry, and overwhelmed that he lashes out. In fact, his anger would eventually lead to sin, which kept him from being able to enter the Promised Land.
However, one particular occasion comes to mind where things happened differently. In Exodus 18, Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro comes to the camp. Moses was completely bogged down in the work of leading those complacent, stubborn, and grumbling people. My guess is that Moses was on the verge of a breakdown. Things weren’t going well and the number of grumblers was growing. Jethro could have done the easy thing and joined in the complaining and fanned the flames a little bit, nitpicking on every detail that Moses was getting wrong, but instead he chose to do something different. He chose to talk to Moses directly. Read what happens.
13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” 15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.” 17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. (Exodus 18:13–18, NIV)
Jethro could see that Moses was doing something wrong, but he was determined to help him see the problem and work on fixing it instead of just complaining to others!
I hope that each of you understand that my intention in writing this is to help foster healthy relationships in your church, especially between you and the ministers who have been called by God to serve alongside you. If you really are seeking ways to get rid of your pastor, then let me advise you lovingly but firmly that you need to find another place of worship. Only God should be the voice in the ear of the man of His choosing to tell him to move somewhere else.
However, if it is your desire to bless your pastor, to encourage him, and make him more effective in his calling, then let’s change the title of this article to “The Best Ways to Keep Your Pastor Around” and let me humbly offer a few suggestions.
- The next time you have a complaint or issue with something that is happening in the church, fight back that impulse to share it with someone else and commit to pray on it for at least a couple of days. My experience is that most complaints are over small things that are emotionally driven and with time those issues go away. If you choose to say something to someone else, you’re only doing damage and you won’t be able to take those words back.
- If the issues that you’re having persist even after a time of prayer, then go straight to your pastor’s office (just please do not do this on a Sunday!) and express what’s on your heart. I know that it may be hard to say a complaint directly to the person who you believe is causing your trouble, but trust me, your pastor will appreciate you for it and it will only cause your relationship to become stronger. There are many times that we as pastors need to hear exactly what you have to say! I’m certainly not perfect and sometimes I need to be made aware of something I’m doing that is causing pain for others. I’m not saying there won’t be bumps along the way, and not every issue will get resolved according to your liking, but more often then not, you will walk away with a peace about you that you didn’t have before.
- When someone else around you is dong the grumbling, refuse to let it go any further. No matter how much I speak to issues such as this, I am fully aware that there will always be those who complain. However, just because someone else continues to complain doesn’t give you permission to chime in with your comments. Instead, when you hear those negative words coming from someone else, take action! Be bold enough to simply walk away from conversation, or respond with something like, “Let’s take a moment to pray for that person instead of complaining about him.” I promise you that doing something like that only a few times will keep the complainers away from you!
I pray that as you face issues in your church, as we all do, you take the road less traveled and seek ways to make peace. Don’t be a grumbler and you will see a difference in your life and in your church family.
A quick note to my church members: I want each of you to know a few things about what I’ve written here. Have I at times felt the hurt of negative criticism that wasn’t brought to me while I’ve served as your Pastor? Yes. Am I writing this from a place of being totally overwhelmed, hurt, and on the verge of leaving because of such things? No. I am writing this because it’s something that every pastor deals with, struggles with, and wishes they could talk about openly and honestly. I hope that pastors and church members from other congregations will find this helpful, but I also hope that each of you will take these words to heart and commit to be a church member that is always willing to come and talk with me no matter what you’re facing. I love you all – Bro. Greg