Lies Pastors Believe


This summer I wrote the following introduction to a piece published by OnFaith:

“What lies are you tempted to believe in ministry?” Over the past several months, I’ve asked this question to dozens of pastors and Christian leaders. It’s a question that often goes unasked in religious leadership circles, but the resulting conversations have been honest, vulnerable, and revealing. Here are some of the common answers:

I have a small church, which makes me a bad and ineffective pastor.

My addiction has no effect on my congregation.

More speaking opportunities at ministry conferences means I’m a legitimate pastor.

The size of our buildings, budget, and attendance are the only viable way ministry success can be measured.

If I pastor better, God will love me more.

I can please everyone and be faithful to my calling.

If I preach better, my church will grow.

My physical health and wellbeing are not spiritual matters.

I don’t need help.

I don’t have time to rest.

God’s grace is big, but it’s not big enough to cover what I’ve done.

My personal identity is directly related to my ministry performance.

These answers reveal the dark crawlspaces of the psyche of a pastor. They’re not surprising to me, though — in almost a dozen years of vocational ministry, I’ve been tempted to believe these things, too.”

There are dozens more lies that are tempting and seemingly credible, even for those in ministry. A big one I often am tempted to believe is this: if I do more ______ then God will love me just a little bit more…

I’d like to hear from other pastors and ministry leaders: what lies are you tempted to believe in ministry?