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If you want to read the tale of a pastor who really did some dumb things, keep reading.

I served as pastor of four churches. It was only by the grace of God and the graciousness of the congregations that I was called and allowed to stay at those churches. I absolutely love the members of those four congregations, and I will forever be grateful to them and for them.

Frankly, I’m not sure I would give myself a passing grade as a pastor. I messed up quite a bit. I would do several things differently today. And as a point of full disclosure, my list of nine is not close to being exhaustive.

  1. I neglected my prayer life and time in the Word too often. It sounds absolutely insane as I write it, but I got too busy for God. As a consequence, I operated out of my own insufficient power too many times.
  2. I neglected my family too often. Paul wrote these words to Pastor Timothy: “If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5, HCSB). Ouch. So many times I communicated through my actions to my family that they were not as important as other church members.
  3. I let the crisis of the moment overwhelm me. In doing so I did not trust in God to see me through the situation. And I did not have a longer-term perspective to understand that difficulties are only for a season.
  4. I perceived most of my critics as my adversaries. Some of my critics actually had constructive input. Others were going through their own struggles, and I was a convenient target. I took criticisms personally instead of responding pastorally.
  5. I competed with other churches. Shame on me. Too often I wanted my church to have a greater attendance than other churches in the area. I should have been praying for and working with those other church leaders more.
  6. I neglected praying with my staff. My prayer time with my church staff was haphazard at best. The one thing we needed to do the most, we were doing the least. I was a terrible leader on that front.
  7. I often worried about what others thought about me. My sole concern should have been how Christ-like I was. Too often I sought the approval of others rather than the blessings of God.
  8. I often yielded to unreasonable requests and demands. Instead of spending my time doing those things that really mattered, I gave in too often to the “squeaky wheel.” I sacrificed the great in order to do the good.
  9. I gave up too often. Due to frustration, exhaustion or, more often, lack of faith, I gave up on challenges too quickly. I am convinced I missed out on many victories when they were just around the corner.

Those are but a few of the stupid things I did as a pastor. Most of you can breathe a sigh of relief that I never served as your pastor.

So why I am writing these self-critical comments at this stage of my life? I pray that some of you may see something in your own lives and leadership that you can correct before it’s too late. God is able. God is willing.

I look forward to your comments.

Thom Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources and the co-author of Transformational Church: Creating a New Scorecard for Congregations.
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Connie Miller

commented on Jun 30, 2015

These are 9 things that can apply to any Christian walk, pastor or not. Thanks for the reminders.

Travis Chumley

commented on Jun 30, 2015

I agree with Connie, these are things that I have found myself doing while I minister and during life in general. Thank you for your honesty.,

Thomas K Imolele

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Its the Holy spirit that brings this to your understanding, because many never realise their state and continue to operate in ingnorance. What could be worse than self righteousness. 'Broken and a contrite heart God will not despise'Psalm 51:17. To God be the Glory

Bob Margaron

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Good word brother. This should be titled 9 Practices To Avoid In Ministry. Although far to many pastors, missionaries, youth leaders, and individual Christians serving God have repeated each one of these, you have been able to articulate them in a way that bring an individual to a place where they can evaluate their own actions and move forward if they choose to in their own life. Thank you.

Adrien Thorne

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Thank you for being so transparent...

Jack English

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Excellent observations... having preached for the last 45 years I must confess I am guilty of all those as well. Thank you and hopefully they will help others early in their ministry.

Harriett Hamilton

commented on Jun 30, 2015

We have walked in all of these areas at one time or another. As pastors going on 3 years now. It has been a journey, my husband and I wanted to give up several times, but God always reveals that He is with us. Thanks for being transparent you have said what other pastors want. Thanks, We are not alone.

Lonnie Mitchell

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Yes I'm guilty of all. Thank you for sharing and with the help of the Lord I strive to get better!,

Elijah Sam

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Thanks be to Jesus for this eye opening revelation to every pastor and member.Some pastors will not share their faults in ministry with anyone and hide them to tell others all is well.God bless you man of God.may god continue to increase you.

Elijah Sam

commented on Jun 30, 2015

Thanks be to Jesus for this eye opening revelation to every pastor and member.Some pastors will not share their faults in ministry with anyone and hide them to tell others all is well.God bless you man of God.may God continue to increase you.

Jerry Frazier

commented on Jun 30, 2015

I could confess the same things. We praise a God and His people (well most of them) who give second, third, and fourth chances!

Roopram Parshotam

commented on Jul 1, 2015

Very practical and relevant to me and I believe to many like me in the ministry.

Gerald Graham

commented on Jul 1, 2015

For those who not only take on the struggles of ministry but also see their personal lives erupt with chaos, #1 is essential to avoid. Don't let the stress and pressure get you to a point that you neglect the One who has the power to pull you through. Why do I advise this? Because I just learned this lesson the hard way. Thanks for sharing this!

Mitchell Leonard

commented on Jul 1, 2015

Thank you Brother Thom, As always your article is exactly what I needed to hear.

Mike Kramer

commented on Jul 1, 2015

Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I think we have all been there.

Robert Mcclinton

commented on Jul 2, 2015

Thank you for reminding us not to sweat the small stuff.

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