Derailed: Three silent ministry killers we ignore at our peril. —  August 26, 2016

Ministry is awesome. Except when it isn’t. After 26 years pastoring, leading pastors, and helping pastors lead I have seen more than one quit, burn out or just explode. The ending is never pretty. Can it be avoided? Here are three things I have consistently seen people in ministry ignore to their peril:

  1. Can’t outwork, out-plan or overcome prayerlessness.

I can hear the groans. The excuses. The reasons why prayer is not the all-encompassing solution. I don’t know if this is an egg or chicken type of situation, but I have seldom seen a pastor crash and burn that had an intimate, personal and robust prayer life. I know there are examples. We call those exceptions. Here is the truth. Just like you can’t outwork a bad diet, you can’t out work prayerlessness. Its tiring. Think kite. You can fly it when the wind is blowing or you can run and make your own wind. Here are three questions:

How long are you praying every day?  How many times a week do you fast? When do you study the bible to eat, not to feed?

  1. Secrets.

We all have them. Everyone you meet is dealing with something they hate about themselves. Some just are better at masking it. The thing is, unattended private struggles tend to become public spectacles.

Weight.                Sex.        Mental illness.   Family.                Loss.      Whatever.

Trace it. Face it. By God’s grace erase it. The devil thrives in secrecy. Unleash the power of the gospel that says its ok not to be ok when things are not ok. OK?

  1. Impact in our life of the dysfunction around us.

For some reason, and for the life of me I don’t know why, we tend to give dysfunctional, hurtful people passes. People have explosions in board meetings or church business sessions and we use phrases like “That’s just Anna” (made up name). We learn to cope with dysfunction. What we don’t confront we confirm. We just bid our time, untill we get another call and pass along the dysfunction to the next victim, er, I mean pastor. Dysfunction, like stress, is a silent killer.

So, what do we do? There are no easy solutions, but here are some suggestions.

Pray. Go on a retreat ASAP. Step away from the madness and the conferences and the planning and spend 3 straight hours in fasting and prayer, then get back to me.

Talk. Share your pain, talk to a professional. Kill the secrecy monster.

Brave. Prayer and counseling will prepare for the confrontation that needs to happen. Be brave. If God is for you, those who are against you are wasting their time.


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9 responses to Derailed: Three silent ministry killers we ignore at our peril.

  1. Right on the money as usual brother! In 35 years, of all my buddies that took theology and graduated with me, the ones that went down could all be tied to one of those three. And I almost went under a few times because of that third one. Until I learned to confront firmly, but gently, those clergy killers that seem to lurk in most churches. I believe when we stop being so intimidated by the power brokers in the church and actually call on the Power from on high, God can and WILL change the hearts of those people, or move them out of the way. Keep preaching it brother! Lifting you up as you lead!

  2. I can definitely relate to the first two in my personal experience. Constant, from the heart prayer is a non-negotionable as a Christian. Prayer is especially crucial exactly because we all have those skeletons in our closet. Without prayer those secrets rob us of our peace.

    Your third point in the article has left me thinking…I’ve seen it but didn’t know how to put my finger on the problem.

  3. As a seminarian and a “babe” in the ministry, this article is right on time! As I begin my final year of seminary including the practical ministry phase of my education, this insight is very helpful and “real world”. Thank you very much! 🙂

  4. I believe Pastors need a special network of physicians, and counsellors who only treat pastors. Too often caring for the church outweighs their own personal care and their own families. They need a special connection with people dedicated to just their wellbeing.

  5. Gabriel Morales August 27, 2016 at 12:37 am

    As a seminary student, my fear for all of us has always been that; eventually getting derailed. Awesome and practical advice here. You’re an inspiring leader! Keep doing what you’re doing!

  6. I’m glad you posted this because some of us just don’t know where to start confronting those silent killers of church ministry.Thanks for the information it will help a lot.

  7. George Whitsett August 27, 2016 at 6:38 pm

    Dysfunctional members and churches run rampant. And being such, they use the pastor as the scapegoat for their problems and the conference lets them get away with it.

  8. Right on. I would add inconsistency. Have experienced them all in my short time in ministry. We need to deal with our inner demons not my excusing them, espousing them explaining them or fostering them but by exorsising them in the name of Jesus… It takes consistency in practicing the principles laid out and full trust in Jesus.
    We need to be aggressive confronting these because these sleepers will kill any of us at anytime suddenly, violently, mercilessly and terminally…