A Reality to Embrace for Pastors


I had a thought recently about the reality of pastoring a church. It is a reality that can't be denied, but we wish wasn't true. Here it is:

You will either be ignored or judged.

 If you aren't growing – you may likely be ignored. It would be nice to be growing and be ignored, but it isn't going to happen.

If you are growing, there will be a segment who will judge you. And the larger you become, the larger segment of the "churched" world will judge you. And different individuals will judge different parts of you, your ministry, and your church. They will judge your growth, your philosophy, your choices, your preaching, your pastoral care, your family, your staff, etc… (pretty much everything). People will make snap judgments about you, have prejudices against you, and hear and share misinformation about you.

This is just the reality of pastoring a growing church – even one that isn't that large. Facing this reality will help stop you from trying to correct every piece of misinformation and defending yourself to everyone who will listen. It's just a reality of life – you will either be ignored or judged. 


  1. And I’d like to add that it is not unique to pastors. The same is true for everyone who is living the Christian life.

  2. For sure, Jerid… Im sure there is respect and admiration for pastors among some/many… That isnt as felt as criticism and judgment.
    In no way am I saying that pastoring is all negative. Not at all. It is predominantly positive. But the judgment and criticism was something I didnt anticipate, and it only grows as the church grows.

  3. So…..if you are being judged, rejoice! As a pastor or as a follower of Christ. It is a good indication that you are not coasting and certainly, that you are not going with the flow of the world. What hurts is when you are criticized by other members of the body, in either instance, but our joy is still in the knowledge that God is pleased with a heart turned fully towards Him. According to Galatians 1:10, we can only please one or the other. I pray we can always choose the Lord and be fully satisfied in that.

  4. It certainly not unique to pastoring . . . it’s a matter of fact among any public figure, successful or unsuccessful business person, athlete, politician, etc . . . step into a spotlight and you simultaneously step under a microscope. You don’t feel it in other parts of your life because those aren’t as relevant as the part people see, or care about . . . people don’t care if their pastor is a good golfer or not.

    I would also make the observation that many parishioners of a rapidly expanding and changing church may equally feel the same . . . ignored and critiqued, Ignored because a larger church becomes seemingly less and less personable . . . and critiqued, or judged, if they don’t go along with the flow of change.

    Granted the experiences and volume of disregard and criticism are different . . . but the emotions, thoughts, and feelings are much the same. Both are perhaps unhealthy personally, and spiritually for the individual and the church.

    In the end I think that each emanate from the same source of individual unrest and doubt.

    A growing churches ability to meet the vastly different needs of a broad spectrum of new, developing, and mature christians is a daunting task . . . the “business” of church is not so different than any other business of commerce and service. They all live, thrive, and sometimes die in the spotlight . . . and under the microscope . . . Fair, or not, most often it’s the leaders and CEO’s that bare that burden . . . the scrutiny of the share holders and consumers alike . . . not the guy sweeping the floor.

    You certainly can’t . . and shouldn’t try to please everyone all the time . . . it’s well known to be impossible. But sometimes the faint, distant, thunder of drums from beyond the horizon can be the feedback of unrest . . . an unharmonious beat that sometimes deserves our attention. Other times it’s just the tapping measures of someone marching to the beat of their own drum who deservingly needs to be ignored. Being able to decipher merit between the two is in the art of leadership.

  5. As a pastor, don’t you teach us to take that persecution and use it to our advantage. I become more proud of being a christian, knowing that the only love and judgement I need to worry about is from our Lord.

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