Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor

Seven Ways to Hurt Your Pastor


By Thom Rainer

If you really want to hurt your pastor, then this blogpost is for you.

This past week alone, I had conversations with dozens of pastors. These pastors love their churches and the members. They are really committed to their callings.

But they are real people who can really be hurt.

The pastors I spoke with this past week shared with me seven common themes of the things that hurt them the most. So, if you really want to hurt your pastor, follow these guidelines carefully.

  1. Criticize the pastor’s family. Few things are as painful to pastors as criticizing their families, especially if the criticisms are related to issues in the church.
  2. Tell the pastor he is overpaid. Very few pastors really make much money. But there are a number of church members who would like to make the pastor feel badly about his pay.
  3. Don’t defend the pastor. Critics can be hurtful. But even more hurtful are those who remain silent while their pastor is verbally attacked. Silence is not golden in this case.
  4. Tell your pastor what an easy job he has. It can really sting when someone suggests that the pastor really only works about ten hours a week. Some actually believe that pastors have several days a week off.
  5. Be a constant naysayer. Pastors can usually handle the occasional critic. But the truly painful relationships are with church members who are constantly negative. How do you know you’ve succeeded in this regard? The pastor runs the other way when he sees you.
  6. Make comments about the pastor’s expenditures. I heard it from a pastor this past week. A church member asked, “How can you afford to go to Disney World?” Wow.
  7. Compare your pastor’s preaching and ministry unfavorably to that of another pastor. Many times the member wants you to know how much he or she likes that pastor on the podcast compared to you. If you really want to hurt your pastor, you can make certain he knows how inferior he is.

So, if your life’s goal is to hurt your pastor, one or more of these approaches will work just fine.

But, if you are like most good church members, you want the best for your pastor. So just do the opposite of these seven.

And if you are worried that your pastor will not remain humble unless someone puts him in his place, don’t worry. There will always be plenty of those other church members around.

Do you identify with these seven items? What would you add?

This article was originally published at on June 16, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at


  • i would add this
    (inspired by a female pastor friend):
    8. Don’t assume all pastors are men.

    Not trying to pick a fight, and I understand there are different viewpoints on women pastors, but wouldn’t it make sense to at least acknowledge this with “she or he” language? I don’t see anything on your beliefs page that mentions this.

    Thanks for your good work

  • Barry L. Davis

    We have never been that worried about being politically correct.

  • Amanda Cash

    Respectfully, gender inclusive language is the norm in many, many denominations and traditions that ordain women. It’s about a lot more than being politically correct, and instead shows respect and value to female pastors as equally called (and, in the context of this article, equally capable of being hurt by her church).

    Thanks for these words. I have been gravely hurt by church people using several of the things on this list.

  • Tristan Black

    I just wanted to say something about the gender issue raised here.

    “27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

    Does the above offend you? Being called man, in His Own Image? God called you and I, “man”, male and female.

    PC has destroyed this nation and ruined a lot of it’s language. It is easy to offend, but forgiveness has been left behind.

    Do not take offense, for you are dead in yourselves and alive in Christ Jesus. For how can a dead man be offended?

    I know these are difficult…to abide in. It’s very hard for me too…But we must, this is to not be worldly…And to trust in YHWH and know He’ll defend Himself…as you are His and IN Him.

  • Tristan Black

    Also Amanda, just because everyone does it, doesn’t mean it’s correct or right in the Eye’s of YHWH. If lemmings are running to the edge of the cliff…does it mean they’re right? Or blind, heading to their own destruction…

  • Pastor Rick

    remember what James says about the tongue 3:5-8,10, the tongue is like a two edge sword.

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