Today's blog from Brett Clemmer, Vice President of Man in the Mirror, rings so true because it comes from so many years of firsthand experience....
“Misguided”? Let’s make that “Stupid.”
I’ve been around a bit. In my 14+ years at Man in the Mirror, I’ve talked to hundreds of pastors (at least). There’s not a greater group of dedicated, hard-working, longsuffering people than pastors. I’m the son-in-law of a pastor and the grandson of a pastor. I love pastors!
When we conduct the No Man Left Behind Training for leadership teams, there are often pastors and men’s leaders in the room. At a certain point I always tell the pastors to stop listening for a minute so I can talk to their men. Then I say something like this:
Guys, there are a couple of things I never want to hear you say: First, don’t ever say, “If my pastor knew what it was like in the real world.” Are you kidding me? Of course the pastor doesn’t know what it’s like in the real world. Pastors don’t live there. They live in the worst 10% of the real world. Nobody calls their pastor when they get a raise, they call when they lose their job. They don’t call their pastor about their anniversary, they call when they found strange cell phone numbers on their spouse’s phone or lipstick on their collar. They don’t call their pastor when their kid gets straight A’s, they call when they find pot in their son’s nightstand or a condom in their daughter’s backpack. The real world? They should be so lucky!
And don’t say, “Well, pastors really only work one day a week.” That’s ridiculous. Think about the typical month for a pastor. They have to prepare four, maybe eight (or even more) different sermons and talks. They may have to marry somebody and bury somebody. They have someone calling because they’re not using the “right” Bible translation when they preach, or to complain about a ministry scheduling conflict. Every death, divorce, illness and tragedy in the church begs for their attention. Then they have staff – who are crazy – and elders, who are crazier. The word ‘elder’ in the original Greek means, “Successful business person who loses their mind when they walk into an elders’ meeting.” I can say that. I am one.
So please, don’t say these things. Because if you do, I will come back and find you.
Amidst the laughter in the room there will be pastors who are smiling and nodding, and others who are just staring at the table, afraid their men will see their weakness or disappointment – not in their men, but in themselves. They are often bordering on burnout, and they’re trying to stay strong for their congregation.
Men, be FOR your pastor. Support them, pray for them, serve them, love them. Leaders should develop a reputation among the men of the church: There are two people you don’t say bad things about: my mama, and my pastor.
If your pastor is preaching heresy or mired in unrepentant sin, of course you should speak up. But most of the time when I hear a man complain about his pastor, it’s frustration about church direction or ministry emphasis or a simple personality clash.
If you want to have influence, you have to serve. No one likes the guy who launches verbal grenades – especially passive-aggressive ones – from the periphery. You might not always understand or agree with everything they say or every decision they make. But you also don’t have all the information they have.
I’m not asking you to trust your pastor no matter what. I’m encouraging you to trust God no matter what. He put your pastor in that position, and He loves the church more than you do.
Take a moment and think: Am I fostering an unloving attitude towards my pastor in myself or others? When was the last time I prayed for my pastor? Am I earning influence or demanding it? How can I serve God by serving my pastor and the church?
And please, don’t say stupid things about your pastor. If I find out, I might just come looking for you.
Brett Clemmer is our VP of Leadership Development, training, speaking and writing on behalf of the ministry. He joined Man in the Mirror in 2000 after a career in business and human services. Along with Patrick Morley and David Delk, Brett is the co-author of No Man Left Behind. Brett married Kimberly in 1991, and they have a daughter and son, both in college.