How We Treat Our Pastors

I shared a two-hour ride from the airport a few weeks ago with a fellow author, a volunteer driver, and a writers' conference attendee (a first-time attendee, if I remember right).

On the drive from Denver airport to beautiful Estes Park, Colorado, the conversation somehow turned toward how churches and church folk often treat their pastors. My fellow author has been a pastor herself, and a pastor's wife. The first-time conferee is a close friend to a pastor's wife. And I, of course, have been a pastor most of my adult life.

Though everyone acknowledges that some pastors give worse than they take, my fellow riders lamented the appalling treatment good pastors often receive, while I kept silent. The conferee, since we were on our way to a writers' conference, of all things, suggested that someone ought to write a book about how we treat our pastors. Then my fellow author turned to me.

"What do you think, Bob?"

I didn't think before speaking. I just said, "There's two problems with that. One, the difference between a book and real life is that a book has to be believable. No one would believe the things people say and do to pastors.

"Second," I said, "no one would want to read it. It would be too depressing."

That put a quick damper on the conversation. But I think it's true. Unfortunately.

It's not only my experience. I've seen it way too many times. Good, gifted men and women who serve God wholeheartedly--even sacrificially--and are treated abysmally. It's certainly one of the reasons--maybe the main one--why 95% of the people who train for ministry and begin in ministry do not retire from that role.

It's depressing, I know. But it's the way things are, at least in the American church culture. And it has to change, or the Lord's warning to the church at Ephesus may be fulfilled in our day: "If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place" (Revelation 2:5, NIV).


  1. Unbelievable, sad and depressing. You hit the nail on the head.

    Yet, most of us would try again. Because it is for HIM not them.

  2. I have not found it so. In forty years of pastoring I have been blessed with good God fearing people. The world has it hard, I have never been beaten or shipwrecked or cast into prison for preaching the gospel. I have went to prison to preach and endured a few snubs. If you are preaching for the pay check just and do something else.
    One Blessed pastor

  3. I feel sad for those who were treated badly. I wondered - how could this happen? I think that part of the reason could be that we are in a spiritual battle. What better way for the enemy to discourage a pastor than with other Christians or members of his own congregation. What if we make sure to pray for those who would cause us pain or humiliate us. We don't have to agree with them, but we can show them God's love with God's help. We need to be diligent to pray for God's people for stronger faith, greater love, strength of mind and determination to do all that God has planned (in advance) for us to do. - My favorite blanket prayer for all of the saints.

    Also while being in a Christian community - those who would act up or cause troubles expect to be forgiven. Well, they have us over a barrel there. hahaha!

  4. The very people who shouted as Jesus rode into town "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord" a few days later hung Him on a cross! The very people who would be our heros one minute, seem to be our enemies the next. If it happened to our Savior we can't expect it won't happen to us...I'm just praying that I have the same love Jesus had, as He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."