7 Truths a Pastor Wishes They Could Say

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You may have caught my 5 Things a Pastor Should Never Say or my 7 Phrases a Pastor Should Say Regularly Off-Stage or even my 5 Things You Should Be Careful Saying to Your Pastor.

image via Creation Swap user Daniel Romero

Today, I want to give a voice to the pastors who often feel trapped, and can’t say what they really want to say. 

Not all pastors are in this boat. Some are riding the waves of freedom, able to speak wisdom freely. I’m thankful to be serving in a local church that gives incredible amounts of freedom.

Others, though, are trapped. Given the opportunity, here’s what they’d say.

7 Truths a Pastor Wishes They Could Say

1. This week has worn me out.

There’s a reason why there’s a distinct calling into full-time vocational ministry. It’s exhausting, often unrewarding, and will ultimately cost you your life. The work of a pastor leaves them worn out emotionally, physically, and spiritually.

Pastors would like to tell you they’re worn out, but they can’t because you expect too much of them.

2. I need help.

Pastors are real people with real families with real struggles. Sometimes they need physical help in leading. Other times they need financial help. Sometimes they need counseling help with their lives. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness…it’s a sign of wisdom. (Re: Galatians 6:1-3)

Pastors would like to ask for help, but they know that if they do, their job will be in jeopardy.

3. Quit making everything about you.

It’s easy to unload all of your junk on your pastor. And at one level, that’s incredibly healthy. Your pastor is equipped to help minister the Gospel into your specific situation. But when your every conversation revolves around you, your problems, your opportunities, and your struggles, you leave little room for your pastor to build real relationships. Good friends don’t just call you when they need something.

Pastors would like to build real friendship with you, but they can’t because everything is always about you.

4. I have no interest in doing a cantata.

No explanation needed here. If a cantata is being done, this statement is running through your pastor’s head. :)

5. I can’t fix everything in your life.

Pastors are often seen as a cure-all. Pastors have all of the right answers, they know just that *perfect* verse, and they can pray the *perfect* prayer that will quickly and seamlessly fix the problem that you’ve been struggling with for decades. It’s not your pastor’s job to fix you. That’s a role that the Holy Spirit reserves for Himself.

Pastors would like to tell you this, but you won’t work out your own faith with fear and trembling. (Re: Philippians 2:12-13)

6. Grow up.

At some point in your natural development, you started feeding yourself, clothing yourself, bathing yourself, and fending for yourself. Spiritually, this has got to happen, too. Sure, your pastor has a role to play there. But taking ownership of your own spiritual growth has to happen.

Pastors would like to tell you this, but you need to grow up before you’ll listen.

7. The end goal of Christianity isn’t to get someone to come into a church building. It’s for someone to build a relationship with the living God.

Bringing someone to church with you is often a phenomenal step of faith. But that should never be the end goal. Never. That also shouldn’t be your primary means of introducing people to God. Evangelism happens best in the context of relationships. 

Pastors would like to say this, but when the primary focus is on numbers (whether they’re decreasing or increasing), they don’t have the freedom to.


Can you think of anything else a pastor wishes they could say?

* image credit: Creation Swap User Daniel Romero


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.

  • Ron

    Excellent post, Ben. I’m scheming to find a way to put in front of church people who need to hear it!! Thanks for writing!

    • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

      Thanks Ron. 

      Maybe sharing it as “Ways to Create Boundaries in your life”??

      • http://www.facebook.com/pastorrobcasey Rob Casey

        Churches need to give their pastors as much freedom to speak as they would if Jesus was doing the talking. He said each of these things in some way at some point over the course of His three year ministry. Perhaps it is time for pastors to just SAY it like Jesus? The results can surprise us sometimes as some of the perceived responses of congregants is really just perceived from our own fears. Been there. The folks need a shepherded they can identify with rather than one untouched by infirmity or difficulty. It clears the air and leads people to pray for you when you trust them enough to love you vulnerably.

        • http://www.benreed.net Ben Reed

          Boom. Well said, Rob!

  • http://edsslipper.net/ Pierre

    Pastors can’t say those things… to their congregation (and even in some cases, that’s debatable. Especially number 4 :-p )
    But some of them they can say to people outside it. I’m thinking especially of numbers 1 and 2.
    Numbers 6 and 7 should be developed into posts in their own right – I do believe there is a time where leaders (not necessarily in a pastoral role) not only can, but also should encourage people to step out of the cosiness of spiritual infancy. Of course, it can’t be as simple as “Grow up” – but it can be remarking that whoever you’re talking to has been in the same place for a long time, etc.
    As for number 7 – the Great Commission is to go and make disciples of all nations, not to make converts/churchgoers. There are organisations which do focus too heavily on conversion and don’t accompany the people they convert on their walk.

  • http://www.jasonvana.com Jason Vana

    I actually have told some of my students to flat out, grow up. Maybe not the nicest thing in the world to do, but sometimes, they just need to hear it. Maybe that’s why I’ve never been paid staff with a church  😀

  • Steve Stanley

    At the end of the day, if most pastors are not willing to say these things at one time or another, they’re either on a path of self destruction, or they’re not actually helping the congregation grow.I would rename the list “7 Things a Pastor has to say somewhere along the road.”

  • Pingback: Saturday Rewind: Hanging With The Fellas - churchthought.com churchthought.com()

  • shanezpastor

    [Youth] Pastors aren’t a be all, end all. So stop asking them to do budgets, be a type A organizer, a Church Resurrector, and a high energy music leader. They’ve been hired to walk alongside your students, and that looks nothing like what you think it does.

    • http://www.facebook.com/pastorrobcasey Rob Casey