How (Not) to Break Your Pastor’s Heart

How Not to Break Your Pastor's Heart | by Jamie Rohrbaugh | FromHisPresence.com

I hear a lot from ministers of various kinds, and particularly pastors’ wives, here in our community. They contact me because I am very PRO-local church AND I talk about inner healing a lot. We also talk about healing from church wounds and staying in the local church, etc, here on the blog. So people who are closely impacted by those issues send me quite a few emails.

The people who contact me usually describe common themes.

They talk about things that the people they shepherd do to them, day in and day out. Soul-sucking things. Heartbreaking things. Things that make them want to quit the ministry—and sometimes, they have already quit.

So, in case it helps even one person, I wanted to share this list of things that break pastors’ and ministers’ hearts … and how NOT to break your pastor’s heart.

By the way:

I’m sure all my friends who are pastors and ministers could add plenty to this. But I want to encourage all those who read to prayerfully consider at least these things on this short list. We can all do better at unity, kindness, and all the other good things the Body needs. And we can ALL do better at taking care of our ministers in the local church, no matter what church you attend.

So without further ado, here are some things that come to mind that are very hurtful to your local church leaders—and how to fix them:

(In no particular order …)

1. When we take, take, take and never give.

Pastors give and give, all day and sometimes all night, every day. They pour out their very soul even in the simple act of delivering a sermon. John Wesley actually referred to the act of preaching as “delivering my soul.” Preaching is energizing yet draining all at the same time.

That’s not counting hours spent praying, studying, counseling, counseling, counseling, did I say counseling? As well as the basic administrative activities pastors have to do. (Even when they do have people to help with admin stuff, which isn’t always, there are always admin tasks.)

So basically, pastoring is a 24/7 job that requires the pastor to give and give and give.

And when people in the congregation just take and take and never give back, it hurts. When you won’t volunteer, won’t tithe, won’t serve, won’t encourage, won’t offer to the Lord, it’s not only an insult to the Lord—and not only bad for you—but it’s heartbreaking for your pastor. They try so hard, but they feel your lack of support keenly. They feel your lack of participation acutely. Ultimately, it’s YOUR heart issue if you’re a taker and not a giver. Your pastor can’t change your heart. But it still hurts them so much.

How to fix this? Become a proactive GIVER. Become a proactive PARTICIPANT. Be just as aggressive about giving and supporting the church as your pastor is about leading and growing the church. This is the only attitude that is pleasing to God.

2. When you’re not teachable.

Pastors really want you to be healed, whole, HOLY, and walk in victory. They really care. They weep before the Lord out of love for Y-O-U. But many people will listen and never do. They sometimes even get mad at the pastor for telling the truth. They beg to be mentored but won’t hear or obey anything they’re told. They won’t submit to authority.

If that’s you, you’re not only going nowhere with God—you’re breaking your pastor’s heart too. How to fix this? Be humble. Be teachable. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for your own life, your own actions, your own spiritual growth. Be a doer of the Word, not a hearer only. Lay hands on your own head and grow in the Lord. And when you ask your pastor for advice, actually do what he says.

3. When you won’t give financially.

Money is a tremendous burden to those in the ministry. Keeping a church open takes MONEY. Paying a staff (if they have one) or even the pastor themselves takes MONEY. Ministering to you IS NOT FREE, and if you think it should be—I’m being extremely blunt here; love you!!! but hoping it will help us all grow—then you need to read your Bible.

Additionally, if you’re of the opinion that your pastor should be bi-vocational and work a regular job too, THE LORD REBUKE AND CONVICT YOU. I wouldn’t wish that on a dog I hated. You try it yourself and see how YOU like it—stacking a 24/7 job on top of a 40+-hour per week job, and trying to maintain your health and family too.

Listen. The Bible says that a worker is worthy of his hire.

The Bible also says that he who is taught the Word should share in all good things with him who teaches. Period. End of story. That means if you’re being taught the Word, but you’re not giving financially to support your church AND pastor, you’re in sin. You’re disobeying God. It’s just that simple.

So hey. If you want to obey God AND encourage your pastor, GIVE. Take God at His Word and obey Him. You won’t be any worse off for it; in fact, you’ll be more blessed for it! Take the financial burden off your pastor. He certainly has plenty to deal with without money worries. Make it your personal mission to make your church like the Tabernacle in Israel, where the people gave so much that Moses actually had to command them to stop giving.

4. Refusing to support the pastor’s vision.

If you don’t agree with the pastor’s vision, either you change you and submit to authority OR leave the church and find a pastor and vision you can support. Hey, we’re not all called to be under the same roof. And if your pastor’s vision doesn’t speak to your heart and you don’t feel a connection with the spirit of the church, maybe you’re called somewhere else. But if you’re staying at the church, get on board with your pastor’s vision.

5. Walking away without saying why.

I think all pastors are intimately aware of the soul-shattering, breath-stealing suffering of Jesus described in the one verse: “And they all forsook Him, and fled.” Hey, as I mentioned above, we aren’t all called to be under one roof.

However, when you walk away from your pastor and don’t tell them why, it breaks their heart. It really, really hurts. Do better, my friends. If you have to go, respect the person who loves you enough to at least tell them that you’re going—and why.

I’m sure this list could be longer, but those are some really important things to know.

Take good care of your pastors, folks.

Pastors quit the ministry and close down churches every single day. And it’s not because they hate preaching, beloved. It’s because, too often, ministry is unkind … and a person can only handle so much.

So adopt your pastor today. Adopt your church as one of the biggest loves of your life, like Jesus has. Serve, support, give, show up every time you can. Throw your hat in the ring and shoulder up beside your leadership. You’ll be glad you did.

Is Holy Spirit speaking to your heart right now about the way you are treating your pastor? If so, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments!

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7 Comments

  1. Well said, Jamie. We have all been guilty at one time or another of wounding our pastors and their families, even if we didn’t realize it. God forgive us and help us do a better job of honoring those HE has placed over us as shepherds. And let’s not forget about the pastor’s kids who also suffer at the hands of well-meaning (or not) church people who don’t set guards over their mouths. Jesus said that we will all give an account for every careless word that comes out of our mouths. Thank you for your courageous and well-timed words.

  2. Maria Lizet Vargas says:

    Thank you Jaime! My heart is heavy. I have a pastor and his family leaving in my back guest house without rent. He is an evangelist that makes income from guest speaking at churches. Lately, there has not been any reliable bookings at churches for him that he’s struggling to keep a float. My question is am I wrong to want them to move out since they have never offered a cent to at least pay what their gracious heart can give. They are going on month 2 of staying with us and this has caused havoc in my marriage because I believe in helping pastors who work for God. But could I also be taken advantage of because of my generosity? Am I sinning to ask them to leave during hard times?

    1. Hi Maria,
      No, in this case I believe you are not wrong to ask them to leave. The signs being:
      1) This has caused problems in your marriage. Huge red flag.
      2) They should be paying for their own way, not living off you.
      3) Yes you can be taken advantage of if you let yourself be taken advantage of. Don’t let that happen.
      4) If you have no peace about them staying there, they shouldn’t be staying there. Colossians 3:15.
      If this family isn’t able to pay their bills, then they need to get other employment. Don’t enable them to continue making bad decisions. He can work during the week and preach on the weekends if he’s an evangelist. There is a big difference between a full-time pastoring job and someone who just travels on the weekends to preach. But even if he were a pastor full-time of a church, the four red flags above still apply.
      May God grant you wisdom in every area!
      Love,
      Jamie

      1. Maria Lizet Vargas says:

        Thank you Jaime! We will have a talk with him this Friday. You are sooo right sometimes we can be enabling folks to do better for themselves. God bless you Jaime for your wisdom and calling. May he multiply your numbers and put a shield of protection around your family.

  3. Divinefavor Osinloye says:

    Just wanted to say I’m glad there’s people like you to welcome in those who feel left out. Thank you, and God bless..

  4. Delia Gonzales says:

    I am under the wings of my pastor and his wife i am their caregiver i do volunteer work from 8 to 5 pm also i am in the front desk doing administration work I love my job i. Was a children church pastor’s wife my husband went fo be with the lord in 2009 I am a giver with tithes offering i donated the children church playground for the children i continue in ministry our vision is ministering to the lost we have a non profit organization a home for.men and women that are ex drug addicts and alcoholics i cook on Fridays i am always on time to work sometimes i get here before he does. I share my personal problems with him. His wife had brain surgery one of my sister’s in Christ go do shores at her house. I take her to her appointments. I sometimes forget things that i am told to do i am not perfect but i try to be obedient to do what i am told.i do have rheumatoid arthritis osteoporosis but the lord is my healer i claim it i am victorious because of him. Thank. You for your encouraging words you are a gift of God

  5. Maria Lizet Vargas says:

    Thank you Jaime! We will have a talk with him this Friday. You are sooo right sometimes we can be enabling folks to do better for themselves. God bless you Jaime for your wisdom and calling. May he multiply your numbers and put a shield of protection around your family.

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