Regular Doses of Common Sense™

What If It’s the Pastor Behaving Badly?

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Yes, sometimes, it’s the people who are supposed to demonstrate to us what a Christian is supposed to act like who misbehave the most. In case you missed it, check out my post about two pastors who did not lead by example on Inauguration Day.

Every now and then, I run across a post that takes the form of criticizing church members for being less than perfect by taking the angle, “What if a pastor behaved the way you do towards God or church?”

They’re almost always obnoxious, self-serving whining sessions by frustrated men of the cloth. I can certainly understand the frustration. As a blogger, I can certainly understand the need to vent.

But I can’t lose sight of the fact that the posts are still on the obnoxious, self-serving, whining side.

Common complaints include a lack of punctuality, a lack of regular attendance, a lack of committed giving and a lack of volunteerism among church groups. I suspect the Apostle Paul might suggest that these whiny pastors get over themselves: they’ve never been beaten, they’ve never been imprisoned, and they’ve never faced a genuine threat of crucifixion. Oh, and that regular salary? Sure, a pastor doesn’t get paid what he deserves and certainly not a high salary. But for most of them, the salary is regular.

Oddly enough, some of these pastors seem unable — or more likely, unwilling — to look at the other side of the story: What if a pastor’s church members behaved the way he did on those times when he isn’t in church?

Just take a look at the social media feed of some of these outspoken pastors: if they’re the example to follow, we’re truly in deep trouble. And if their church’s members actually did follow that example, they’d be more likely to:

  • Tear down instead of building up
  • Be snide instead of being kind
  • Be divisive instead of being uniting
  • Seek attention rather than seeking genuine, loving relationships
  • Reflect the talking points of a political party before reflecting God

Is that what they’d really want? What happened to leading by example?

If we’re really going to look at the problem of bad behavior, we need to understand that it can go both ways. And if it’s acceptable to “call out” the church members in one’s little rants, one should expect those members to take a second look at their church leader whom they’re being scolded to follow.

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14 Comments on "What If It’s the Pastor Behaving Badly?"

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Good post, sometimes it definitely is the people that you would think that we should be admiring that really we shouldn’t and sometimes people change over time too.

Martina McGowan
Good post Patrick. I completely agree that if we are going to examine and try to eradicate the problem of bad behavior, then everyone needs to start with self-examination, including the pastor. And, if we cannot examine ourselves, then we need to keep people around us who will speak truth and honesty into our lives. I think as pastor’s rise in the church hierarchy, they have fewer and fewer people in their inner circle. Some of this, I am sure is by design. Pastor’s are human, and make all of the same mistakes the rest of us do. But if… Read more »

Martina McGowan Agreed. Fortunately, this wasn’t my pastor, but if I had a pastor who did this kind of thing and I didn’t feel like I could discuss it with him, I’d definitely move on.


Gina, your comment about people in power not finding people to be honest to and whom will be honest with them is so true.
Well said!


I wouldn’t go to a church where I thought the pastor did not represent what he/she should. That being said, I also recognize that pastors are just human beings. They’re not perfect. They make mistakes. It’s how they respond that’s really important to me.


profkrg True. Sometimes, unfortunately, when called out on their mistakes, they only get worse. That’s when it’s definitely time to go elsewhere.

gina valley

I think that people in leadership positions sometimes experience a blindness of power of sorts.  Pastors are certainly as fallible as anyone else, perhaps more so.  They are often placed on a pedestal by congregants that causes a difficult to overcome isolation.  It is easy for them to forget the rules apply to them.  It is hard for them to find people to be honest to and whom will be honest with them.  Pebbles pile into mountains quickly.
It’s sad when someone in a position to do much good and service chooses instead to embrace selfishness and self-aggrandization and judgmentalism.


gina valley “Blindness of power.” I like that a lot. Sums it up very well.