When I was studying at seminary, we were told that the greatest temptations for a pastor were sex and money. I have no doubt that many pastors have stumbled in these areas. However, this has not been my experience.
That is not to say that I don’t experience temptations. There are some unhealthy habits that I find myself naturally drifting toward. I need to continue to force myself to push through.
Here are the top four.
I sometimes get a picture in my head of how I want something to be done. I then face the fact that it will take more effort to explain that vision than it would for me to just do it myself. Even if I do delegate, there is no certainty that it will be done the way I want. It is easier to not delegate. But if I don’t delegate I will burn out and those I’m working with won’t develop.
Focusing on the Numbers
In my head, I know that local church ministry is much more than bums in the pew. It is about leadership development, discipleship and outreach in our community. But the numbers pastors trade with one another is about attendance at Sunday morning worship. I have found myself discourage by a sparse Sunday morning service, even when I know things are going well in our church.
Every pastor will give lip service to prayer. But much of what we hear about growing churches (not just numerically) has to do with technique. I believe that strategy and programs have a very important role. But it is easy to believe that a healthy church will come by simply finding the right formula. The truth is prayer is the key. Without giving up on plans, we must spend significant amount of time in prayer. I’m always amazed at what I see after I have prayed for something specific in our church. Incredible things happen.
Most churches have a vision or mission statement. Whatever it is called, there is a purpose for each church. I believe that vision is essential for a church to move forward. At times I have been immersed in the vision so much that I forget that others do not have the same experience. It is easy to assume that the congregation has the vision after posting it in the bulletin and preaching a short series on it. I believe it was Andy Stanley who said, “vision leaks.” That is, the immediacy of the vision continually diminishes and the leadership must continue to refill the vision bucket.
What temptations do you face in pastoral ministry?