I have discovered that not everything I originally heard about ministry was true. Looking back on 28 years of ministry, and with the help of several Twitter friends like you, I have comprised a list of ministry myths that need to be debunked.
1. Pastors only work one day a week
This stopped being funny…wait, was this ever funny? Can we retire this and a few other stale lines (“If I were any better, I’d be twins…”). Pastors work. A lot. But they still need rest too.
2. Pastors are on call 24/7
I wonder if these first two myths are evil twins. I admit that there is a morsel of truth in this, although I would like to challenge it on the basis of its unbiblical roots. Jethro muffled this myth for his workaholic son-in-law Moses. Apparently Moses’ wife was tired of him putting out all of the fires in Israel during his post-exilic career.
If we are available 24/7 to people who do not share our last name, we may be sharing Moses’ messiah complex. Our reluctance to share important ministry opportunities with other leaders may say more about our weak leadership and self-esteem than our strong work ethic. The emergency room may be open 24/7, but it is staffed by a rotation of medical personnel.
3. Pastors can’t be friends with church members
Usually the word “favoritism” is thrown into the discussion and people just seem to agree that this is sadly the price of pastoring. I could not disagree more with this unbiblical and dangerous myth. Most of my closest friends are staff, deacons, and trustees of the churches I have pastored.
If the pastor is the leader of the church family, doesn’t it follow that he is also a member of it? How about his wife and kids? Next Thursday’s post will venture into other myths related to the pastor’s family.
Isolation is the Devil’s most subtle snare. Tell the Devil to go jump in the lake, then take your family to a better lake with some of your favorite church members.
4. Missionaries live somewhere you don’t
A new friend at LifeWay, Daniel Sangi Im, said that when he was pastoring in Korea, a guy told him that he wanted to be a missionary rather than a pastor because pastoring was a cop out. He wanted to go “the real and harder route.”
If your identity and gifts are boiled down to a title on an org chart or a geographic location, you are missing out on our common calling as Great Commission missionaries. If a pastor is not a missionary, he is merely a public speaker. Acts 1:8 clarifies the local and global nature of missions.
5. Most research and statistics about pastors
Many of the alarming statistics about pastors which have been passed around for decades are about as reliable as the Da Vinci Code. They give the impression that most pastors are miserable, as are their families. Most of those stats can be traced back to a straw poll that a seminary professor in California did back when Roger Staubach was starting for the Dallas Cowboys.
The good news is that LifeWay Research is in the middle of a very expansive project, the results of which will be released by this fall. At least that is an 87% probability.
More myths next week
Your input on Twitter was so good that I’m going to post this in two parts. Next Thursday we will look at some other ministry myths related to a pastor’s family, money, politics, and privacy. I would love to hear more ministry myths from you, so please either post them here in the comments page or send me a direct message to @markdance.