Pastors struggle just like everyone else. We believe lies that cripple our ministries and lead us to operate out of fear rather than out of love. We are discouraged more than we'd like to admit. Here are some of the lies that we believe, that we need to drag into the light if we're going to thrive in ministry.
LIE: Once you're in leadership, God's love is contingent on your success.
We all know and believe that God's love is unconditional for the people we preach to every week, but we rarely believe it for ourselves. I often think that if I don't steward things perfectly that God does not love me, or that He only loves me if I don't make mistakes. This is LIE from the pit of hell! God doesn't love you because you are awesome. He doesn't love you because you get it right all the time. He just loves you. He loves you because He is love, and nothing can separate you from His love.
LIE: Rest is optional.
My pastor often says, "God calls those who will not work, lazy, but He calls those who will not rest, disobedient." Rest is not only a biblical command, but it also shows that we are trusting in God's grace and His power, rather than our own anxious toil. You're not that important. Rest refreshes your soul and sparks fresh creativity. You will do more with 6 days rested than you will 7 days running on empty. Is your schedule unrealistic? How can you adjust it so you can actually last in ministry, rather than burn out early?
LIE: My wife doesn't need a date night.
Pastor's wives have the hardest job in the world. The lie that we believe is that we can just spend all of our time serving in the church together and neglect pursuing her. Does she even like what she's doing in your ministry or is she just doing it out of necessity? God calls us to love our wives as Christ loves the church. We often get this backwards. When was the last time you took her on a date that wasn't to the church or out with a couple that you were investing in? When is the next scheduled date night?
LIE: I need to elevate myself.
As a young leader, I sometimes feel the need to elevate myself so that people acknowledge me. I've recently heard many pastors insist on having everyone call them "Pastor (insert name)." Jesus clearly tells us not to do this when he says,
"But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:8-12
LIE: Everything hinges on perfect theology.
God is greater than your theology. Recently, I've had people on all sides of the theological spectrum come and "correct" my theology... from the ultra reformed to the hyper charismatics. I've decided that if the person approaching me loves Jesus, loves me, and has an ongoing relationship with me I will listen. But, I am not going to listen to a random guy who thinks he knows about theology because he's read a couple Calvin books. God doesn't fit in our box. Read the bible, preach the bible to the best of your ability, be open to critique from a small pool of people, and give the rest to God's grace. Don't drive yourself crazy to satisfy everyone who has a theological bent.
LIE: Community is optional.
We tell our people all the time to get into Christian community, but we don't do it ourselves. We need people that we can be real with; not just a surface level authenticity, but a person that we can tell our darkest thoughts, biggest doubts, and dirtiest lusts. Do you have any real friends like that? What do you need to start doing right now to get back into real Christian community?
LIE: You have to have it all together.
We believe that we are supposed to have the perfect marriage, perfect kids, perfect quiet time, perfect schedule, never lust, never cuss, never mess up, etc. This is unrealistic and will drive you to be a complete hypocrite. Yes, continue to get better and continue to let Jesus grow you into His image, but let it be driven by His love, not an anxious desire to be perfect for fear of people finding out what you're really like. We need God's grace just as much now as we did when He saved us.
LIE: It's all about you.
As sinful humans, we naturally want to make ministry about us. It's not. Make sure you have people around you who love you enough to tell you it's not about you. Pride is one of the things that robs people in ministry of real fruit. "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." -James 4:6
God loves you. Believe the gospel. Don't let the enemy take your eyes off of Jesus by putting lies in your head.
If there's anything I can ever do for you personally, please don't hesitate to email me and we can set up a phone call: firstname.lastname@example.org. God isn't done with you.