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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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"1. Pastors are criticized for taking time off to go on vacation. I will never forget when my wife was criticized for having a tan after coming home from a family vacation. As young pastors, that put us both on edge and made us leery of sharing anything regarding our personal lives. Evidently, some people think pastors are superhuman and never need a break from work and ministry. This, in my opinion, is a form of shepherd abuse." - Joseph Mattera

Odd place to start. Perhaps the personal account explains why. I have no disagreement. Pastors are human beings. If anything, they need more vacation than the average job because it is not an average job at all. While we are on the subject, we mean real vacations. Taking a group of congregants to Israel or leading a missions trip to Guatemala are not vacations.

"2. Pastors are often criticized for having nice things. I have heard of pastors being criticized for having a home, a nice car, nice clothes, nice watches, etc. Some people have a religious spirit and expect pastors to take a vow of poverty! Besides, most people don't know the backstory of how and why pastors have nice things. Often things such as clothes, watches and even cars are given to them by people in the church, or a family member may have given them money for a home. (Every watch I have and all the clothes I wear have been given to me by people who desire to bless me.) True, there are high-profile pastors who receive excessive compensation and/or live lavish lifestyles (although much of their income can be from their book sales or legitimate business deals not related to the church). However, in my opinion, the vast majority of sincere pastors are underpaid. It is a form of abuse to accuse a pastor of misusing church funds because he or she has nice things without knowing the backstory." - Joseph Mattera

This seems like a mishmash of different issues. The usage of the "religious spirit" lie is telling. Apostate church leaders like to wield this against those who properly discern against their false teachings. No one is expecting pastors to take a vow of poverty. That is absurd. The issue is when pastors are more known for their things than their doctrine. The issue is when their bling is far in excess of the sheep they are tending to. When "Pastor" Jon Gray gives his wife a $200,000 car after being accused of cheating on her and then defends the gift, that is the problem Joseph. Might I suggest also that if a pastor of a lower middle-class church is "gifted" a 10K watch that maybe he does not need to wear it to church. Maybe he can save it for special occasions. Maybe he can use some discernment. Lastly here let's address the often-used excuse that book sales or side business deals have nothing to do with the church. That is patently wrong. I am glad that Joel Osteen does not take a salary from Lakewood Church but to pretend that his millions do not come from the church, who are the very people buying his books, is ridiculous. If the pastor is leveraging his name or celebrity, which only came because of the church, then it is directly related to the church. When you write off your six-million-dollar mansion as a "parsonage" to the IRS as Kenneth Copeland does, methinks you deserve the criticism.

"3. Pastors face constant violations of private and personal boundaries. I cannot remember how often pastors have told me that their vacation was interrupted and/or personal family time disrupted because somebody had a need and desired prayer, counsel or comfort. When people in a congregation fail to respect the personal family time of their pastor, it is a form of shepherd abuse." - Joseph Mattera

Yeah, no. Look, what you describe is a pastor who needs to set better boundaries but you keep acting like the sheep are peers with the shepherd. There is a reason why Jesus used this analogy. I agree the shepherd needs breaks but the sheep cannot take breaks from their need for direction and protection. This is also a direct result of creating the purpose driven cult of personality pastorships that Rick Warren has taught for decades. I remember after my first year of being a non-profit executive, I was expecting a glowing review and my boss let me have it because I had created a workspace that could not survive if I left. She was right. I had to empower the people around me and have them trust in their own decisions. When a church is led by a pastor that is everything to that church, it is no wonder why the sheep feel so much more lost when he takes a vacation. My experience has always been that a good pastor has an awesome pastoral staff specifically because he cannot do everything!

"4. Everyone's emergency has to be their emergency. Most pastors eventually learn that when an immature person in their church is hurting, they go into self-preservation mode and expect their emergency to be the pastor's emergency. They expect the pastor to drop everything and come to their aid, irrespective of the circumstances of their pastor's life and family. When this continually happens, it is a form of shepherd abuse." - Joseph Mattera

Look, every time a sheep behaves like a sheep that is not "shepherd abuse." When this continually happens, it indicates that the solutions implemented by the pastor have not worked. It would not surprise me if there was the paradigm mentioned above at work. My pastor had an Assistant Pastor who was in charge of pastoral care for example. When we were in the hospital, we knew he would visit, not the lead pastor. Quite frankly, it was more of a gifting for the Assistant Pastor! I might add here that if you are put off that sheep want to speak with their shepherd when things go sideways in their life than maybe you are not called. Maybe you are the hireling the key verses warn us about.

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Credentialed Minister of the Gospel for the Assemblies of God. Owner and founder of 828 ministries. Vice President for Goodwill Industries. Always remember that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to (more...)
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