Q. I keep hearing about pastors who preach fame, money, and health. But then, so many of them self-destruct in really weird, kinky behaviors. Why is this? What's going on?
No wonder…I think the role of "pastor" is one of the most difficult professions available to a human being. It does not surprise us that many fall away from orthodox teachings and behaviors. It's true that some pastors preach false health-and-wealth messages. But, for those who don't, think about what they have to do:
A Vow of Poverty
Congregations often expect their pastor to be poor - as if a Protestant leader should take a "vow of poverty." Church members forget this passage:
"Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, 'You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,' and, 'The laborer deserves his wages'" (1 Timothy 5:17-18, ESV).
Clunky home, car&Possessions
They don't want the pastor to drive a nice car, own a nice home, have reasonable health care or a pension plan, or any of the standards of living the rest of us enjoy.
Think of it. We have seen church members throw temper-tantrums because pretty begonias and tulip bulbs are bought for the church planters with church money! Often red-faced with anger, they resent spending money for landscaping.
Never mind providing for a pastor and his family. I'm not kidding… They feel a pastor should be poor so that he will work for the Lord - not for a salary. They set aside the above Scripture - that "the laborer deserves his wages."
Scholar of the Year
Yet, the pastor is expected to give scholarly sermons every week - sermons suitable for graduate courses in seminary. I suggest you try that. Teach a Bible study group and prepare scholarly material to present every week for 52 weeks. Just one year. It takes all of your time to do that kind of work!
But, then the pastor has to put up with people leaving a service early, talking during his presentation, or walking out without an explanation. Some of this behavior is just downright rude! How would you feel if people just walked out while you're talking to them - while you are presenting material that took hours to prepare?
24 Hour Shrink
On top of a life of poverty, scholarly sermons and rude congregations, pastors are told to be available 24/7 for personal counseling needs. Yet, they receive none of the rewards for this service. Unlike a marriage counselor the pastor receives zero money for this service. He is expected to be available all of the time for some of the most petty things you can imagine (I won't list them for fear it may offend someone in a church).
Idol-worship in Reverse
Many church members put their pastor in the role of parent or authority figure - and give them all of the grief, too. People lose their tempers and chastise the pastor in ways they wouldn't dream of with others in their lives.
For example, would you throw tantrums at your boss? A teacher? A doctor? The IRS? A policeman? This is idol worship in reverse. Yet, pastors are expected to take it without retaliation.
Not only does the pastor live a life of poverty, does research and presents scholarly sermons, puts up with our rude behaviors, and functions as a 24/7 "shrink," but a pastor is also expected to maintain a good attitude and work with the right motives, too. He is expected to live solely upon Colossians 3:23 and Ephesians 6:8 for his reward. You and I don't (although we should).
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Col. 3:23, ESV).
Please support your Pastors
Please. Support your pastors. Hire lots of deacons and elders to assist them. Train your congregations to respect their pastors and to look to deacons and elders for extra assistance. And be kind toward pastors, as you would be to the Lord Jesus Christ.