5 Bad Habits Pastors Should Avoid At All Costs

Nobody's perfect, least of all pastors. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to be the best we can be for the sake of our flocks. Just like anyone else, pastors are susceptible to developing bad habits. Some of these habits can be harmful to both the pastor and their congregation. In this article, we'll explore five of the most common bad habits pastors should avoid, along with scripture references to help guide you.

Habit #1: Refusing to Forgive

When someone wrongs us, it can be hard to let go of that hurt and move on. We tell this to our parishoners, but in practice, we find it difficult to do ourselves. We may even feel like we have a right to hold onto that grudge. However, that is not what God calls us to do. Jesus said, For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. -- Matthew 6:14-15 Just as God has forgiven us, we must also forgive those who have wronged us—no matter how hurtful it may be. It's not easy, but it is necessary.

Habit #2: Gossiping

Gossiping—or speaking ill of others behind their backs—is something we've all been guilty of at one time or another. In my experience, some of the worst gossips are those in ministry. But as Christians, and especially as Christian Leaders, we are called to higher standards. In James 4:11-12, the Bible says, Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge (ESV). When we gossip about others, we are slanderous and judgmental—two things that are very un-Christlike. The next time you're tempted to gossip about someone, take a step back and ask yourself if what you're saying is truly kind and helpful.  Our prayer should be, Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! -- Psalm 141:3 

 Habit #3: Failing to Pray Regularly

Pastors are busy people. We often have a never-ending list of things to do and people to see. In the midst of all that busyness, it's easy for prayer time to fall by the wayside. But prayer is essential to a healthy spiritual life—for both pastors and laypeople alike. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul tells us to "pray without ceasing." This doesn't mean that we need to be praying 24/7 (although there's nothing wrong with that), but rather that prayer should be a regular part of our lives. We should pray when we wake up in the morning, before meals, before bedtime, and any other time throughout the day when we feel called to do so. Spurgeon said, "As well could you expect a plant to grow without air and water as to expect your heart to grow without prayer and faith."

Habit #4: Not Prioritizing Self-Care

Pastors are notoriously bad at taking care of themselves—both physically and emotionally. They often put the needs of their congregation above their own needs and in doing so, they end up burning out quickly. In Mark 6:31, Jesus tells his disciples (and by extension, us) "to come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while." Everyone needs some time away from work now and then in order to recharge their batteries—and pastors are no exception! It's okay (and even necessary) for pastors take some time for themselves every now and then in order recharge emotionally and physically so they can be at their best for their congregation.

Habit #5: Being closed-minded

One of the worst things a pastor can do is close themselves off from new ideas or different points of view—especially when it comes to their own congregants' opinions. After all, our job as pastors is not just to preach from the pulpit but also to listen with open hearts and minds when our congregants come to us with concerns or questions. As Proverbs 18:2 tells us, "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion." It's important that we take care not express our opinions too forcefully or dismiss out of hand the opinions of others—especially those within our own congregations.

Pastors are human beings just like everyone else—which means we're susceptible to developing bad habits just like everyone else! In this article, we've explored five common bad habits that pastors should avoid: refuse to forgive; gossip; fail to pray regularly; neglect self-care; and being closed-minded. It would be very easy to add a lot more, but we hope this has given you some food for thought as well inspiration to live your life more intentionally! I'd love to see your comments below!


Note: All Scripture quoted is from the ESV (English Standard Version)


  • The two I struggle with most are praying regularly and self-care. My biggest struggle is self-care because no matter how much I do in my mind, there is always more I should do. I never feel like I am working enough or doing enough, so any time for breaks is out of the question. Also, when I take time away, I feel guilty because I feel that I should be working.
    Case in point, this summer while on vacation I still prepared the sermon for Sunday and wrote a paper for a few seminary course. I struggle with self-care because I was raised to work and prioritize work because we are hired to do a job not take vacations. That has stuck with me.

    Luke Morrison
  • This is very helpful to me and I will like to subscribe. I very open to new ideals that will help me on the work of the the Lord as long it Bible.

    Pastor Matthew Zoegar Daniels
  • I love it and will like to subscribe

    Pastor Matthew Daniels
  • I like this and want to subscribe

    Matthew Daniels
  • Very appropriate and challenging, I would add that this also applies to all Christians.

    Frank E Holmes

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