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Devotionals    H3'ed 6/15/22

The Office of Pastor and Abuse Versus Purpose Driven Hireling Complaints

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5. Pastors face gossip and slander regarding leadership decisions. Every pastor has had people in their congregation slander and second-guess decisions without understanding the context or investigating the reason behind their choices. When a church culture develops a critical spirit toward its pastor and leadership, this is a form of shepherd abuse.

Wow, sounds like someone should not even be a leader, let alone a pastor. Throughout the years I have had many of my leadership decisions questioned. You have to have thicker skin than this. You have to approach criticism with a couple of views. First of all, you must always assume the critique could be right! I know this goes against the purpose driven teaching that no one questions the high and mighty vision caster but the reality is that maybe there was a better way to do something. As long as you explain your heart and why you chose to do something your way, it is ok to say hey maybe you are right. The second view we must have as leaders is to use every situation as an opportunity to grow. Second guessing leadership is the one constant in leadership situations but it is not "slander." We need to remember that the sheep belong to Jesus - not us. He is the Great Shepherd. The pastor is but a caretaker for the Great Shepherd. Jesus knows everything. We do not. Sorry, but we don't. That is why the closer we stick to the bible for all of our decisions the closer they will be to Christ and the more defensible they will be. So, please stop with the critical spirit" nonsense. The pastor is not a dictator.

"6. Pastors experience consistent betrayal. Betrayal is perhaps the most challenging part of a pastor's job. Every pastor I know has been betrayed by people who they thought were loyal to them but forsook them without notice or explanation. Often, they feel used by people in the congregation who turn on them if they don't get what they want. It can be an overt form of betrayal, like a close associate splitting the church or a friend leaving the church without a legitimate reason. When this happens, it can be a form of shepherd abuse." - Joseph Mattera

Sigh. This is what happens when you view the pastor as some kind of elevated position, floating in the clouds apart from all the trappings of humanity. Let's come back to reality and realize the deep theology for today - everyone gets betrayed. Everyone. We have all had a spouse cheat on us. Or a business partner screw us over for money. Or a boss give the promotion to someone else. Or a friend who turned out to not be so friendly. This is all part of the human condition. We are sinners and thus we sin. As I said, I saw it up close and personal in my old church but at the core of the disagreement were human beings who thought they knew better and who felt privileged to ruin a church because the one thing Christians can leverage to explain poor behavior is faux-righteousness. We can view ourselves as overturning temple tables when we really are taking the thirty pieces of silver.

"7. Pastors are expected to give without receiving anything in return. Most pastors constantly pour their lives and energy out to their churches without anybody pouring life back into them. They preach, teach, pray for people and give godly counsel. Many pastors are burned out, stressed and trying to put out fires. Despite this, most people take them for granted, and very few people take the time to pray for them, bless them and pour life back into them. This is a subtle form of shepherd abuse." - Joseph Mattera

Really. I am reminded of the exchange in Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner exasperatedly says that he never once asked what was in it for him. What is Mattera saying here? This is a textbook hireling to demand what is in it for them. Expected to give without getting anything in return? The heck you say! Wait a minute, aren't you getting paid? Don't you have a benefits package? In many cases don't you have a parsonage to live in for free? As for the rest of these complaints, how is it the fault of the sheep? This is a direct result of building the purpose driven church. Pastors constantly burn out because they are trying to do God's job. You see, contrary to Rick Warren, the bible teaches that the pastor is responsible for the vertical growth of the sheep not the horizontal growth of the church. Seriously. Go read the end of Acts 2 and you will see the people devoted to the teachings of the Apostles and to fellowship while God added to their number daily as He saw fit! The purpose driven church teaches pastors they must cast vision to continue to draw goats to their church, so it grows. Well no wonder they get tired and burnout. I would too if I was trying to do God's job.

"8. They are expected to work insane hours. Many pastors work 12-14 hours every day without an entire day off. Sometimes this is the pastor's fault for not honoring a personal sabbath, but often it is because of the pressure they feel to fulfill the intense demands of the ministry. When a congregation expects their pastor to work 60-80 hours per week, it is shepherd abuse." - Joseph Mattera

Let me see if I have this right. It is the fault of the sheep that the shepherd cannot organize his work? No Joseph, just no. My old pastor had some guardrails. He used his pastoral staff. He had scheduled vacations away, far away. He and his wife had date night once per week. He still ran into the "I have to do everything" problems but he had a multitude of counselors he could rely upon. The pastor that thinks he is the end-all, will always fail in these areas because he does not view anyone at or above his level that he can talk to. While it certainly is a shame it is not the fault of the sheep.

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Submitted on Wednesday, Jun 15, 2022 at 8:29:10 PM

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