Okay, I admit it. I'm writing with some frustration today because I watch committed pastors struggle because of "armchair" pastors in their church (that is, those who aren't pastors, but who feel serious freedom to tell pastors how to do their job). Here are some armchair folks who frustrate me:
- Those who have no clue about theology, but who tell a pastor when he believes wrongly. I know laypersons who are theologically strong, but I also know some who aren't. The latter are often the ones who tell a pastor when he's "wrong."
- Those who are sure they know how the pastor should spend his time. After all, they're certain they already know how he is spending his time, even though they haven't spent any time with him.
- Those who "guide" the pastor in how the church should spend the budget, even though they give minimal (or perhaps no) dollars to the church. Their level of financial sacrifice gives them little leverage to speak into these matters, but they direct the pastor nonetheless.
- Those who tell the pastor how a pastor should raise his children. This one probably annoys me more than any of these. If you're concerned about your pastor's children, pray for him and them. He might just be more burdened than you are.
- Those who tell the pastor what the Lord has "told" them to tell him. To speak for the Lord apart from rightly proclaiming His Word is a dangerous move indeed, so all of us likely need to be careful here.
- Those who are convinced a pastor can read minds. These are the armchair pastors who get angry with a pastor for not responding to a need about which he had no knowledge.
- Those who tell the pastor he should confront somebody, but without using their name in the conversation. Unless you've walked in these shoes (and armchair pastors usually haven't), you cannot know how difficult this position is.
- Those who see themselves as the unofficial church leader. Their "yes" vote for a pastor is really only perfunctory, since they'll remind him about their positions and power anyway.
May I ask you to pray for your pastor today, particularly if he has armchair pastors in the church?
And pray for any armchair pastors in your church as well—that they might rethink how they can best help your pastor? All of us can be armchair people at times.
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
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