Bad Pastor? Part 1 of 2

Q. What can we do about a pastor who is doing a poor job but blames us for not supporting him? He scolds us for not respecting his leadership, but people are leaving because of him. What should we do?

A.  I need to know more about your situation before I can offer any suggestions, but I can give you a few guidelines for your consideration:

  • 1 Tim 5:17-22 The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching. 18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,” and “The laborer is worthy of his wages.” 19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. 20 Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 21 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality. 22 Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.
  • 1 Pet 5:1-5 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.

When you say your pastor is doing a poor job, by what criteria are you evaluating his performance? Yours? Or the Bible’s? I’ve heard your side of the complaint, but I’ve been around long enough to know there are two sides to a story. I have heard heart-breaking stories from fellow pastors who shared how their board challenged most things they say and do, just to show who is “boss”! Essentially, they treated him like an employee, who should listen to them who pay his salary. So, the first thing I would suggest is “examine yourselves”, even before you appraise him. Are you assessing his work according to God’s standards? Or yours, which may be totally unrealistic.

What are some of these standards? Let me list a few:

Examine Yourselves:

  • Do you have evidence to support your accusation against your pastor? (I’m using elders and pastors interchangeably here.) Do you have two or three credible witnesses?
  • Do you have a spirit of partiality? In other words, you have a prejudice against him, so that no matter what he does, he can’t do anything right in your eyes?
  • Are you paying him a decent salary, or are his wages low so that he must ask for more or do a side job to support his family?
  • Did you call your pastor too hastily i.e. you did not do the necessary due diligence to make sure you have a good candidate before you extend your call?
  • Do you submit to his leadership, with humility, recognizing he is your shepherd, not a hired hand (John 10:12-13)?

Examine the Pastor:

  • As overseer, does he rule well? Does he have insight and show wisdom in situations? Is he balanced in his judgments? Does he have good ideas?
  • Is he working hard at preaching and teaching? Or is he lazy in preparing messages and training disciples?
  • Does he shepherd the flock well? That is, does he care for the people? Does he lead, guide and protect them, not just feed them?
  • Does he watch over God’s people willingly? Or was he compelled to enter the pastoral ministry because he couldn’t do other things well?
  • Did he become a pastor for the money? Was he called? Did he desire the noble task?
  • Did he lord it over those entrusted to him i.e. was he overbearing, domineering? Or does he lead by example, not asking people to do what he himself is not prepared to do?

There are more principles on what makes a good shepherd in both the Old and New Testaments. But this is a good place to start.

(To be continued)

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