5 Things You Should Be Careful Saying to your Pastor

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You may have caught my 5 Things a Pastor Should Never Say or my 7 Phrases a Pastor Should Regularly Say Off-Stage.

Today’s a bit different, though. Today, it’s all about you.

image credit: Creative Commons user Kolby Schnelli

Because sometimes you forget that we pastors are people, too. We’re not superhumans. We’re not mini gods. We’re people, with families. We have hobbies. We have good days and bad. We have days when we feel close to God, and days when He seems distant. We have good ideas and awful ones. We have great church members…and ones like you. (I’m kidding…)

We don’t always know what we’re doing. We’re often outsiders in many conversations, because…when your pastor shows up, you change the subject. We have struggles, too.

I want to help you out, though. Because I know you don’t want to say the wrong thing to your pastor, right? You don’t want to inadvertently offend the guy who’s getting ready to go on stage.

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to your Pastor

1. What do you even do all week?

This question is loaded with the assumption that pastors sit around, drink coffee, and read their Bible all week in a nice, quiet office. Ahh…how nice that would be. :) The life of a pastor is much more complicated. We’re helping people understand the deepest, most profound aspects of their lives, with all of the junk that will be dredged up because of those conversations. We’re leading teams of people. We’re active in our communities. We’re slating announcements and videos. We’re crafting web pages. We’re recruiting leaders. And…oh yeah, most of us preach and teach regularly. So we study.

2. You just work one day/week, right?

This one is similar to the first, but there’s an intended sense of humor here. Here’s the truth: that line was barely funny the first time. I hope you know that pastors work much more than one day/week. Sarcasm always has an intended angle of truth, right? So every time you say it, there’s a small part of you that believes it. So if you truly don’t believe it…don’t say it.

3. Your job must be easy.

Maybe you’ve never said this, but I guarantee you’ve thought it. You feel like if you were a pastor, life would be much easier. And to be honest, maybe it would. There are much worse places to work. But every occupation has its difficulties, too. Just because pastors get to meet and greet on Sunday mornings doesn’t mean that their work is so easy throughout the week. We do have to deal with people like you, after all. :)

4. Why can’t you meet with me when I want?

If you want help, you get it, right? If it’s counseling help you need, you’ll take an hour off of work to get it. If you need your teeth worked on, you’ll schedule an appointment with your dentist at his convenience. If you need your car worked on, you’ll drop it off when they’re open. So why do you expect a pastor is “open” 24 hours/day? If the issue you need help with is that vital, then it’s worth bending your schedule around.

5. That wasn’t my favorite sermon.

This is one of those post-sermon no-nos. Most pastors know when they missed the mark. They don’t need the reminder from you, especially right after they preached. The time right after preaching is typically a vulnerable time for most pastors. Try to find something to encourage them on, rather than picking apart their sermon.

Throughout this list, I’m not encouraging dishonesty. Don’t lie to your pastor. I’m also not saying that pastors are above difficult questioning. Sometimes that’s needed.

But if you’re going to question your pastor, fill it with grace and love.


Pastors: what have you heard that made your skin crawl?

Non-pastors: what have you said that afterwards you thought, “Whoops…shouldn’t have said that!”?

*image credit: Creative Commons user Kolby Schnelli


Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/ETL4S7DF3FJI665KPCBUNY4BSA Thomas Wise

    This question for pastors couldn’t have come at a more interesting time. There are some people in our community who believe that because some pastors are only AT the church a couple of days a week, that those are the only times we are working. I’ve been called “essentially unemployed” on more than one occasion. If only sermons wrote themselves! I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home, and I wish people understood that even though I’m not AT the church, I AM still working!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Keep up the hard work, Tom, whether you’re recognized for it or not. You’re doing great work!

  • http://bit.ly/hWr7Cw Rob T

    I like the comment: “I work in the real world.”  (Pastors apparently work in the not-real world!) :-) 

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Yep. That’s a good one, Rob!

  • http://kathyfannon.blogspot.com Kathy Fannon

    I worked in our church office for over 10 years in various aspects of ministry with more than one pastor. (I attend a so-called mega church.) Those guys are always having ministry breakfast dates at 7:00 am and are on call for emergencies in the middle of the night. On their “days off” they meet with other leaders in the community and plan trips or outreach events. They are busy 24-hours a day. It’s not an easy job and I don’t envy you pastors. Thank you for sacrificing what you do to minister to us. 

    Great series this week, Pastor Ben.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks for the encouragement and kind words for us pastors, Kathy. That means a lot.

  • Pastor’s Wife

    Plus, they’re busy writing blogs…

  • http://twitter.com/jholivares Jorge Olivares

    A young man visit our church for the first time. He told me he wants to know what the Bible say about sex and marriage. I suggest some ways to study that in the Scripture so we have this conversation:
    Him: Could you pick up for me every verse in the Bible about sex and marriage?
    Me: That´s your interest. Do the homework.
    Him: Pastor are suposed to teach the church. Do that for me!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Glad to hear you’re encourage people to be self-feeders, Jorge!

  • http://www.mattsoderstrum.com/ Matt Soderstrum

    The one that gets under my skin the most … “I can’t believe you said (or did) that. You are a pastor.” I am far from your typical pastor and I act and do things that are sometimes not normally said or done by other pastors. I am an open book and share my life accordingly. I was not aware that a pastor had different expectations than any other follower of Jesus. Sure, we will be more accountable due to our teaching and preaching, but why is there this expectation that a “normal” Christian can act one way while a “pastor” has a whole different set of expectations. Drives me crazy! 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Bergman/1463495634 Daniel Bergman

      1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17-21; Titus 1:5-9; and other Scriptures emphasize the additional accountability of pastors. James 3:1 is especially clear on this point. While those comments may be unfounded, don’t forget the weight of the office. Also, don’t forget its rewards. Perhaps chief among them, your followers (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). Grace and Peace!

  • Cindy Gooch

    Alongside being a parent, it seems to me that being a pastor is the HARDEST job in the world.  It has a LOT in common with being a parent.  PRAY for your pastor(s)!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1641426050 Jenni Langley

    My DH has been a pastor for almost 13 yrs. He has so often had early mornings with groups of men, right now he’s working out at the gym with a guy 2-3 mornings a week and then they meet for breakfast and to talk discipleship before coming home for a quick shower and taking the girls to school, then going to work. He teaches Sunday school, preaches 2 sermons a week, studies for his doctorate work & writes papers, meets with deacons and runs business meetings monthly, goes in early and stays late when the doors are open, answers calls at all hours of the day and night, all while trying to keep up with his 3 children and loving wife.  My husband has very little time to himself, so the time he does have is precious. So is our family time. He does safeguard family time, so I’m proud of him for that. He makes great efforts to spend time discipling our children, praying with and for them and with me. Sometimes I wish there were just a couple more hours in each day or at least each week. It’s a busy life! 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Aaron-Couch/537567923 Aaron Couch

    I recently had a guy who has not looked for a job in 2 years nor held down a job in four years say to me that he had a hard time with me going on vacation when he couldn’t put gas in his car.

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  • Dena

    “Hello, this is Pastor Williams.”  “Oh, hello, I want to talk with the Pastor.”  “I am the Pastor.”  “But you’re a woman . . . oh . . .”

    • Pastorbridgetelgin

      I Get that a lot.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1164451469 Jack Larwa

        God bless you both Sisters!  Remember that Deborah was one of the greatest Judges over all of Israel, they wouldn’t even go to battle without her.  Remember also that a woman was the very first person to tell everyone that the grave was empty!  Preach on and serve in love.  We all have to deal with people that need extra grace, one way or the other.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1164451469 Jack Larwa

    When it is 6AM, the phone rings, I have spent the previous night with someone who died in the nursing home (varies as the case may be) and someone says, “Why are you still in bed pastor?”

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Wow…you are so lazy, Jack. :) (that’s a joke!)

  • Darren

    “Pastor, that was a warm sermon.”
    “What do you mean by ‘warm’?”
    “Warm, as in not so hot…”

  • Dorcus or Pricila laborer

    I believe and realize pastor’s work hard and long hours. I respect and honor my pastor repeatedly for this privately and publically (before the congregation). I think lay ministry is often overlooked and over worked. It’s a lonely hard working ministorial job to hold up the pastor’s hands, work in various departments, work a job outside of church, and never obtain recognition for our labor of love. A lot of times, it’s the same few faithful members that include lay ministry workers that the pastor can rely on repeatedly. Pastors, please take time to recognize and thank your lay ministers who work faithfully and loyally under your direction. —Thank you.

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Great thoughts! Completely agree. Thanks for sharing your perspective!