Help When Your Pastor is Blowing You Off


sadgirlDo you ever feel like your pastor is blowing you off?

Maybe you just feel like he doesn’t greet you or treat you as you expected.

That was the case with “Anne” who emailed me her question:  “What should I do if I think my pastor doesn’t like me?”

Anne says she often has an “overwhelming feeling whenever my pastor greets me that he’s pasting on a smile. I can sometimes see him dig deep for it, too. Ive seen him turn away in hopes there was someone else to speak to and then, finding no one else, dig deep for that fake smile and turn back to me. It hurts.”

I ran Anne’s dilemma by my husband, a former pastor of 20 years, and he had some great insights that can help us understand pastors and how to better deal with the situation if you feel your pastor is blowing you off.

First, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Have you had a less than positive interaction with your pastor in the past? If so, it’s possible he’s being cautious. No one likes confrontation or the idea that they have disappointed someone. He may be a pastor, but he’s still human.
  2. Are you at a large church where your pastor is a little far removed from most of his congregation? Wanting a small-church feel from your large church pastor might not be realistic. On the other hand, if it’s a small church, he may have quite a lot on his mind each time you approach him.
  3. Could it be a timing issue rather than a personal one? If you are experiencing a less than enthusiastic reaction from your pastor when you arrive at church it could be that you are approaching him at a difficult time. Many pastors have much on their minds on a Sunday morning. They are thinking about the sermon they are about to deliver, whether or not the tech will work for their visual aids, wondering if everyone is in their places so they can start on time, and perhaps even wondering if the person who contacted them during the week will still have a problem or suggestion that morning that they are not able to deal with at the moment. While a pastor should focus on his people as they are arriving, he may be under pressure to focus on a lot of other things, too. That’s not necessarily his fault.

My husband offered this advice if you still feel your pastor is blowing you off:

  • Lower Your Expectations and Extend Grace. You have one senior pastor to how many people in the congregation? He will never be able to meet all the expectations of all the people in the congregation. Today, we expect our senior pastor to be a great visionary and CEO, yet a great detail person, too, who can get things done. We also expect him to be a people person who will take time to hold our hand, pray for us, and be genuinely empathetic to our feelings no matter what issues are pressing in on him. We pretty much expect our pastor to be a jack-of-all trades and most likely he is not. He’s simply a man called by God to shepherd a flock and do a whole lot more that his board of elders or deacons or congregation expects of him.
  • Seek to Encourage Him, Rather than Be Encouraged. It is in our human nature for us to enter church with the expectation of how we will be greeted, treated, and spiritually fed. But when you enter the doors of your church with the aim of encouraging your pastor and others, rather than being encouraged yourself, it will bring joy to your heart and his. I promise you it will go a long way in improving whatever is going on there.

Hebrews 10:24 tells us:

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works….

That applies to our encouragement of our pastors, too. Here’s a tangible way to do that.

The next time you come in to church hand your pastor a brief hand-written note of encouragement. As you hand it to him, say” “This is some encouragement for you today.” (That will take your pastor off of the defensive if he’s used to being handed notes of complaints, suggestions, or something he isn’t able to deal with at the moment).

In your note, write something to the effect of:

Pastor, just wanted you to know I’m praying for you this morning that the Lord will empower you to preach in the power of the Holy Spirit and refresh your heart as you refresh ours.”

If you do that, chances are he will respond differently the next time he sees you.  Why? Encouragement is in short supply these days for a pastor.

How have you broken through to a pastor you felt was keeping you at arm’s length? My readers and I would love to hear it in the comment section below.

Cindi
About me

Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning author and national speaker who helps women find strength for the soul. She has nearly 30 years experience ministering to women and inspiring them to let God meet their emotional needs, grow stronger through their alone times, and pursue their dreams with boldness.

46 Comments

Sue
Reply July 29, 2015

This was very helpful, good insight Cindi. I'm in a "new" church after leaving my former much loved church and pastor to find a church closer to home. This at God's leading, but even so it was a tough process. My former church was a small one and the pastor had time for each person, treating each of us as very special. He had the gift of hospitality in a big way!

When I came to this new church there was an interim, and I realize now that he reminded me a great deal of my former pastor. This new church was the 4th I'd tried after following God's leading to find a church closer to home, and I'd been so down at not finding the right new church more quickly after obeying His leading. From the day I walked in the door I felt at home and within 9 months I joined this new church - also a small church, although a larger congregation than my former church. We called our new pastor at the beginning of the next year and I was happy to get to be a part of that with my new church family.

Over the past couple of years I've begun to realize that this new pastor, while he is gifted in many ways and well loved by many, is not gifted in hospitality. After two pastors (and I'd only had experience with three before coming to this new church) with that gift I must have I assumed all pastors had the gift of making a person feel wanted, comfortable, appreciated and welcome.

I am single and an introvert, quiet, still a little unsure of where I fit in this new church even after 3 years . Questioning if this is really where God wants me to be. I've been falling prey to comparison lately, unfairly comparing my current pastor to my former. I miss my former pastor's big smile of welcome, the genuine hug of friendship, his true compassion and understanding over extended family difficulties, the invites to dinner - his friendship and that of his wife and family. I realize how that in lieu of a husband to model Christ's love my former pastor did that in my life.

And I expected that all pastors would do that for me. I've been very lonely in this new church even though people in the congregation have reached out to me in friendship. Since the pastor hasn't responded to me as my last pastor did I've been so afraid it's because of something wrong with me - something he sees that my former pastor didn't. Because of this I've pulled back from everyone and I battle over attending church each Sunday, glad for any excuse not to go, and thinking very seriously about looking again for a new church home.

This blog post has been very good in helping me see that I can't expect my new pastor to be something and someone he isn't. I'll try some of your suggestions and see if things don't improve because this new church is where God wants me to be at this time of my life, I know that is true when I allow myself to get past, well MYSELF!!

Thank you Cindi, I always learn something from your posts and look forward to them. God bless you and your ministry.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply July 29, 2015

    Thank you, Sue, for your comment. I appreciate your desire to be obedient to God in staying at a place where He has clearly called you. Thanks for reading my blog, too. Blessings.

carol
Reply July 29, 2015

There is much wisdom here, and on a topic not often discussed. Thank you. I would add that if after you've done all of these things you still wonder if your pastor is blowing you off, pay attention to your hunch. Maybe there really is something going on behind the scenes. I am aware of one church's experiences with two different pastors involved in extra-marital affairs. Each pastor was uncomfortable around certain members of the congregation who sensed something was wrong, and basically "blew them off." It just makes sense to be aware. Proceed with caution and grace, but be aware, for the sake of your pastor, the congregation, and the health of your church.

    StrengthSoul
    Reply July 29, 2015

    Thank you, Carol, for you input. I agree. Pastors are not infallible. And, like you said, we need to be discerning, as well.

    Faith
    Reply April 26, 2017

    Very true..
    I thought about this same concern.. but there could also be the issue that, like you mentioned, pastors are human beings.. and male human beings. Some are cautious with certain women.. their caution may be due to their own feelings or their caution could be due to the wisdom of propriety-- for the sake of "false appearances" As said in scripture, some people feel it is wise to not be too friendly with the opposite sex.. respectful yes, but cautious in friendliness.. I feel a pastor who is gifted with people understands this and yet is still very able to treat women with kindness whilst keeping the boundaries.. bc, let's be honest, not all Christian women are wholesome intended around pastors and our husbands... I'm saying that pastors have to be cautious yet friendly and respectful while withholding wise boundaries between them and women.. our pastor is very wise to this. He makes sure he never speaks one on one with a women unless another female or husband is present.. I deeply appreciate his wisdom in this area...
    However, my pastor does ha e a hard time with discernment.
    He has endorsed leaders in Bible study and music worship that do not have fruit-filles lives.. Some are emotionally unstable, others are rude and have favoritism. Every thing we know to be true in scriptures seems to be flipped at my church. Leaders are allowed to teach Bible study that have very dysfunctional lives, music leaders endorse hard hearted vocalists...
    No female is allowed to hold a leadership position of any kind..
    If a family is confident in the Lord, happy and has raised a healthy home of children, and the fruit of the Lord's power is seen in them, the leaders at my church dismiss us.. as they give energy to and build up, encourage, and endorse those that have "meaningful testimonies" such as broken marriages, drug abusers, incarcerated people, etc.. and truly, the only way they let you in is if you take part in helping with their children ministry.. they have over 50 kids and most of the help are not the parents of those children! They don't ask the parents "
    "because they don't want to push them away", but they get very unhappy towards people who aren't the parents but are members who choose not to volunteer... it has been very challenging for me and my family to attend this church. Time and time again our pastor and the music leaders has shown me and my husband dismissal and rejection. We have gifts they are not interested in, nor interested in supporting or encouraging.. yet the support and encourage very dysfunctional people.. it's very odd to us.. I love all if God's people.. but I feel that someone like me and my family's love and honor for God is just as precious as someone who is in drugs or came from a drug background, broken marriage, etc.
    This church treats us like we are mutants.. yet they tend to the others like their precious.. and they are! But all God's people are too

      Cindi
      Reply April 26, 2017

      Faith, thank you for your wisdom and understanding about what pastors go through when it comes to dealing with single women or women in general. I'm sorry however that you are experiencing what you are there at your church. I remember feeling when I was young that my testimony was inadequate because I hadn't spent years in drugs or hadn't been pulled out of the pit. And yet I understand today that a walk with God and a lifetime of honoring Him is precious to the Lord as well and it's unfortunate that those kind of testimonies don't get the spotlight more often in churches today.

Chery
Reply August 20, 2015

Great subject Cindi! LOVE the note idea! I used to encourage a Pastor from my past verbally at church and with a phone call. But I like the note better. It is tangible and can be kept and enjoyed again and again. Thanks!

Leelee
Reply January 6, 2016

I have ask to meet with my pastor several times he replies on getting back with me.But never do.I'm trying to grow gain strength in my faith as a new Christian. Approximately 5 years ago I joined this church reach out to other sisters and brother's no relationship in\out of church.I feel rejected not include.Spiritually I pray for others ,ask what ways contribute as a church member. Tried the choir,again most of the time wasn't included.The church is small now days I don't say to much we meet greet smile and I go home.We taught to have Grace,but I'm confused Christian I pray daily living the best I can ,apologize ask for forgiveness my shortcomings.I should be doing much more for the church body.Im not complaining murmuring. I don't want to neglect that gift in me. Thank you for listening...

    Cindi
    Reply January 6, 2016

    thank you for sharing your heart, Leelee. Apparently many people feel hurt and not included in the church body and sadly, others fail to notice. I would suggest you try going to a woman in the church -- perhaps the women's ministry director? -- and ask if you can be discipled or get into a ladies' Bible study. That is the best way to grow, in community, and to make friends and feel you are a part of the church body. (That would most likely be what your pastor would suggest once he met with you...and this would save him a step. Besides, it's sometimes awkward for pastors to meet alone with women. A wise pastor keeps boundaries around situations like that to protect themselves and anything that might not look right. I'm not implying anything about you, just stating the facts.) Please let me know if you end up getting involved in a small group Bible study and how that turns out. I do care.

      Lisa
      Reply March 11, 2017

      "A wise pastor keeps boundaries around situations like that to protect themselves and anything that might not look right."--- I struggle with this as I am a single, divorced woman in the church. All I want is to be a whole member of the church, known, welcomed...etc. Yet, because I am single and divorced, I feel my pastor keeps me at a distance and perhaps sees me as an "awkward situation" rather than simply a sister in Christ.. which is all I want. I've witnessed him go from gregarious big hellos and pats on the back to a quick, dismissive hello when he greets me. He takes special care to say a big hello to my son which makes him feel very good and I appreciate that. I do appreciate your insight and I am taking your advice to heart. I will pray for my pastor. Do you have any advice for single divorced women in the church who feel more like women wearing scarlet letters than members of the church?

        Cindi
        Reply March 13, 2017

        Lisa, Thank you for sharing your heart on this matter. Your concern is legitimate and it is not the first time I've heard from a single and/or divorced woman who feels "put off" by her pastor. I will pray about how to write a sensitive and informative article like this for pastors, as I have several venues in which I can do so. In the meantime, you may find hope and encouragement in my book, When Women Walk Alone. And thank you, again, for bringing this concern to my attention.

Leelee
Reply January 7, 2016

Thanks for caring CINDI the pastor is wise and I ask to meet with both.(wife)I also reached out to her in the past .No women's ministry ,ladies bible study only church group bible study weekly .I have visited other churches in the past that have the above groups. I express early that tried to communicate gain a relationship in\out church.God's will be bless.....

Renee
Reply January 29, 2016

Great article! I came across this article because I struggle with feeling rejected by my Pastor. A lot of this I feel comes from being rejected by my dad. He was in the home, but never once showed me any form of affection. I feel to keep from being hurt, I put the walls up. My Pastor is aware of me seeing him in a fatherly image. I so badly want him to accept me, but at the same time avoid him for fear of being hurt. I know he's not my dad & can't replace my dad. But he is a caring shepherd.

    Cindi
    Reply January 29, 2016

    Thanks for your comments, Renee. I'm sure your pastor is just trying to keep appropriate boundaries. He probably understands you more than you think. You might want to check out my book, Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs. In there, I talk about the many ways God can make up for what we never experienced with our fathers. I think it will help you look to God instead of your pastor or anyone else, for that filling that only God can give. Blessings to you.

      Renee
      Reply January 29, 2016

      Thank you so much! This is something I have struggled with for years. I'm 45 years old, and wanting a daddy's embrace. I know there are boundaries, which is why I feel so awkward around my Pastor. I know he can't give me the affection I want. I just wish I could physically feel Gods love. I will definitely check out your book! Thank you!

Roxanne
Reply January 30, 2016

Thank you for the article. I am going through something similar. I have a female pastor. We just started attending a few months ago. I always feel like she doesn't like me at all. She doesn't even say hi to me. I have had 2 dreams of her where her heart is harbouring bitterness and I felt strongly to meet with her to clear the air. I messaged her and asked if she would be free to get together for coffee in the next couple weeks. She "saw" my message but won't bother to respond. How can I proceed with this? Does God perhaps not want me to meet with her and just pray for her instead? In the meantime it's unnerving to be around her at church.

    Cindi
    Reply January 30, 2016

    HI Roxanne: Thank you for reading my blog and responding with a comment. I wouldn't put too much stock in a dream...that could be your subconscious thoughts coming into play and creating something that isn't really there. Biblically, if your pastor has something against you it is her obligation to come to you and clear it up. My suggestion is that you take the advice in the article and write her a nice note, telling her you are praying for her (nothing more) and hand deliver it with a smile. Seriously, as you pray for her, and all that she may be going through in her role as a pastor, your heart toward her will most likely change and your suspicions or feelings of uneasiness around her may dissolve into love, grace, and understanding toward her. A woman (and a pastor, nonetheless) who doesn't take time to say "hi" to someone or respond when someone reaches out is most likely a wounded woman. Perhaps she is carrying quite a heavy load there at your church and it comes across as her being aloof, when maybe she's just burdened. Prayer always softens our hearts...and the hearts of others...so yes, pray for her. And leave this one in God's hands. We as women can tend to create situations in our minds that someone is upset at us when they simply aren't being as friendly as we had hoped or assumed. And in that case, your prayers for her will strengthen you, as well.

Debra
Reply February 16, 2016

Thank you so much for your article. I too, feel like my pastor doesn't care for me. I have been on the leadership board for years and recently resigned. I resigned after pastor made comment about needing younger people to get involved and be part of leadership in church. The pastor never visits with me, when I approach him, he darts off in the other direction. Several members have said that he talks negatively about people. I have heard him when he is angry with someone. I feel like I need to visit with him, but cannot trust him not to talk to others about me. I have given this burden to God and I trust Him to take care of situation. Thank you for your comment.

    Cindi
    Reply February 16, 2016

    Thank you, Debra, for sharing this burden on your heart. I'm pleased that you've taken it to the Lord and I am praying for you today and for your church leadership and for your pastor, for whatever he is dealing with that is causing him to be this way toward you and others. When we begin to exalt pastors, we quickly find they are humans, in need of a Savior, just like all of us. Thanks for sharing your heart.

Priscilla
Reply July 17, 2016

This is very helpful, especially because it's a subject that in most times is left without discussion. God bless you CINDI for this article it is helping me.

I wish to wake up to a positive change in my life, I have been rejected and isolated for 3years now to a point whereby I would feel like I am loosing my way. Before me others are addressed in a loving manner whereas when it comes to me, not even a bit of tolerance do they have. It's so hard and heart breaking , I do almost everything to the best of my ability in the house of God but all goes unnoticed. At one point I felt like I am a demon of some sort because of the treatment I received from the parents who once loved and trusted me.

Please pray with me

    Cindi
    Reply July 17, 2016

    Thank you, Priscilla, for your comment. I'm sorry you are still feeling unaccepted and unnoticed. My prayer for you today is that God will wrap you in His arms and show you that your affirmation, validation, and acceptance comes from who you are in HIS eyes. "Lord, help Priscilla to see that she is a beloved daughter of the king and who she is in YOUR eyes is all that truly matters. Help her to seek Your approval alone and fill her with the strength, peace, and joy that comes through an intimate relationship with You. Please bring a friend alongside her at her church who will help her keep her focus on You and yet be an encouragement to her when she feels alone. In Jesus' name, Amen."

      Priscilla
      Reply July 18, 2016

      Amen , Thank you so much CINDI. Am truly grateful.. God grow you in a dynamic way and bless you in all areas of your life

        Cindi
        Reply July 18, 2016

        You're welcome, Priscilla. And thank you for your kind words.

LC
Reply September 7, 2016

What does it mean if you contacted a pastor to see if you could help serve with outreaches, any area of ministry, or helping out and just wanting to come and encourage or help organize etc , and a pastor (that you dont know) says he's too busy to help you plan a new project, but youre not planning a new project you're wanting to alleviate some of his load of activities by coming to their area and helping out becuase you feel called to, or God has put this on your heart and you have a longing or burden for the country, and he still says no, its just that we "do relational evangelism" , which maybe I could do bc lots of people speak English there ... so anyway, main question, why would a pastor blow me off if Im offering to come serve and help for a month? Any thoughts, ? Its a real bummer to me, so now Im looking into another part of that country (would rather not mention it, to be anonymous here)

    Cindi
    Reply September 9, 2016

    I think your question would best be asked of that particular pastor. But since you asked my thoughts, I really believe he might just want to be careful about letting someone he doesn't know come and serve. In the churches where my husband has been the senior pastor, he had a policy of not placing anyone in leadership unless they were trained and committed to the church (through membership, accountabilty, etc.). In the case of service, he was also careful, just as a means of protecting his flock. He saw too many people swing in, want to "do something," and then fly the coop as quickly as they came. So, although churches are often looking for people to serve, a wise pastor will be cautious in whom he allows to serve in certain areas out of a protection of the people God has put in His care. The pastor you are dealing with may get many requests from people he doesn't know and feel he doesn't have the time to oversee or check you out first and so it's easier to just say "no, I can't help you plan a new project" or "we do relational evangelism" rather than whatever you might have had in mind. A wise pastor will also want to check out one's theology, track record, and references before allowing someone he doesn't know to come in and possibly influence, or impact His church. Those are my honest thoughts. All of that to say, it's most likely not personal.
    It's probably more of a pastor's way of being cautious. I hope that helps.

Prayerful
Reply September 9, 2016

Thank you for your words of wisdom, Cindi! It is comforting to know others have dealt with these things before. I have a history of idolizing and being overly critical of my pastor (interesting how both can co-exist in the same heart!) Even though I have repented of this, I fear that I may have done irreparable damage to the relationship. I am a single woman, and I know that leaves me in an awkward position, I asked him how I can encourage him rightly, and he said he doesn't need my encouragement, which is hard to take because people have told me I have a gift of helps. I must remember that I am not serving to please man but to please God. I so much want things to go back to how they were before I put my pastor on a pedestal, but no matter what I do, it seems out of reach. I told him that I honestly wonder if it would be best for him if I went elsewhere, and he said no, he doesn't think I need to do that...in a real sense I am glad he said that, but in another, it sounded so matter-of-fact. In God's providence, I have an upcoming opportunity to encourage my pastor with the rest of my church, and I am wondering what the Lord would have me write. Part of me is hesitant to say anything because of his discomfort in the past, and another part of me is thinking this might be a healing moment. I really do not know what to do yet, but I do know that God promises us wisdom whenever we ask!

    Cindi
    Reply September 9, 2016

    I would keep it casual, yet sincere. He is probably on guard simply because you are single and, he is just trying to be careful and conduct himself above reproach. You aren't the first single woman to tell me that your pastor keeps a safe distance. :)

Richard and Kathy
Reply September 15, 2016

I read your post and I hate to say it, but 99% of it does not apply to this situation. I am not talking about sunday mornings for example. I am one of a surprising few people that know a job in the clergy is FULL TIME WORK 6, sometimes 7 days a week. I am not talking about isolated situations where the pastor for whatever reason didn't deliver. There have been NUMEROUS times when I needed to talk to the pastor, about something pretty important. In fact, there have been times where I had a scheduled meeting with him, and he stood me up. No call no show. NO, I do not belong to a big church either. My faith dangles on a thin and weak string. Honestly I am of the mindset where I don't need this. My relationship with God before joining this church, well lets just say that it was not hunky dorry. That's putting it charitably. In truth, I was a Satanist. I let myself be influenced to come back to Christ, and at the time I THOUGHT I had made my pastor aware of this as at no time did I conceal or omit any info about my anger with God and the fact that I did things out of shear defiance to convey that anger to God. Yet in my open minded nature, I went back to church. I am sorry I did now. YES, there were times the pastor was there. But it seems like when I am really in a bad way, hes coaching basket ball. Hes on vacation out of town THREE OR FOUR TIMES A YEAR! I have left texts, emails and phone messages that have NEVER been answered, months later. I finally see him, and he says NOTHING about my concerns. I think I get the message, and know what I must do.

    Cindi
    Reply September 15, 2016

    I am so sorry you've had a bad experience with a pastor who has clearly been negligent. There is never an excuse for anyone (pastor or not) to stand someone up and not follow up with an apology or explanation and desire to reschedule. It saddens me that you've had a disappointing experience with a pastor in this way. However, it also saddens me that you are letting the actions of a person determine what you think about God. We are ALL sinners, and therefore imperfect and many times just plain messed up. Those of us who have repented and called upon Jesus Christ for our forgiveness are still saved by God's grace ALONE, and by no merit on our part. It's true there are some pretty poor representatives out there of who God is, (myself included, at times),and none of us can perfectly represent the love, faithfulness, goodness, wisdom, and perfection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Pastors are people who are accountable to God for how they shepherd His flock. A wise pastor doesn't take that lightly. And a wise person, believer or unbeliever, will not base his impression of God on the actions of people. The only perfect and worthy representation of God was Jesus Christ, who walked this earth blamelessly and showed us what complete obedience and surrender to God looked like, right up to His death on a cross. If any of us, pastors or not, were that good at representing God we wouldn't have needed a Savior. Yet we are all, as I mentioned, sinners saved by grace. I don't say that to excuse our actions, but to explain the erroneous conclusion that the way a church or pastor or Christian in general operates is the way God is. I do hope you will look beyond the disappointing things you have seen and experienced from followers of Christ and see God for who His Word says He is. Satan is a liar and he will deceive us and make us believe that we should look to people for a proper image of the Everlasting God. And then Satan laughs when we see disappointing, and erroneous examples of who God is through people who claim to follow Him. But truth is found in the person and character of Christ, as seen in the Bible. I hope you will direct your gaze toward Jesus. Otherwise, honestly, you'll be disappointed every time.

Peter T.
Reply November 3, 2016

I have been attending what i call my church for more than a year and my Pastor has never had more to say than hi or how are you. I attend alot of things at church, casual and formal. I notice he has regular talks with others but not with me even if the opportunity is apparent. I have encouraged him in a number of ways, notes, cards, gift cards etc. i email him and thank him for a sermon and comment about how wonderful his ministry is. Without question he avoids conversation with me. I have no idea what might have caused this feeling. Not making this up. I am probably going to leave and will write a letter and thank him for all the spiritual growth i have recieved. I simply hurt to much to stay. I am afraid i might say something to a member and that would not be good. Just can't understand a Pastir doing this. Thanks.

    Cindi
    Reply November 3, 2016

    Peter, thank you for taking the time to write out your concern. The advice I'm giving you, I've given to many others, as well and that is to not expect so much, personally, from your pastor. He is just a man. He will disappoint, like anyone will, if we hold him up on a pedestal and believe that to be "friends" with him will make us feel closer to God, closer to him or the church, and so on. Keep your eyes on Christ and serving others. That is why we attend a church...not for what the pastor or others will do for us, but for how we can connect with the body of Christ to use our gifts, serve one another, and glorify God. God is not glorified when we (and I include myself and many American Christians in this statement) look at church or our pastor for how they can meet OUR needs. Following Christ is about picking up our cross, dying to ourselves (and our needs and desires) and unconditionally loving and serving others. I hope this helps to encourage you and keep your focus.

Irene
Reply February 3, 2017

I recently lost my father and wanted to talk to my pastor. He kept saying he is very busy and everyone keeps wanting something from him. He cannot get away from the constant requests unless he leaves the city we are in. He talked only about himself and did not offer any prayer and did not want to listen to me or my concerns with my dad's recent death. I felt he is too much into himself and his family to care for anyone else. I feel he does not care. He said he did me a favour by going to my dad's funeral because he was on vacation that day. My dad is not a member of my church so it was handled by someone else and my minister thought I was taken care of by my dad's minister even though I have been going to my church for 23 years. I am so very disappointed in his lack of care and only taking about himself and his lack of time off even though he has been on two vacations in the last two months. Is this normal behaviour for a minister?

Ann
Reply March 9, 2017

My stepson feels like he has been called in ministry. We have asked the pastor to meet with him and he did in the past and said he would start letting him read scriptures before service. That was a year ago and still nothing. Just recently we asked if he would meet with my stepson and his wife and they were told yes but they were extremely busy......2 weeks later still extremely busy. Also, when you text the pastor his wife seems to be the one with all the answers. I feel like our pastor is not be lead by God but rather by his wife. Would you remain in this church? We have attended for 8 years.

    Cindi
    Reply March 13, 2017

    Ann: I'm sorry you've been disappointed with your pastor's lack of follow through on what appeared to be a promise or a good intention. My answer to your question is: I would remain in a church until the Word of God is no longer preached or obeyed. I understand the actions of this pastor's wife. There have been times (when my husband was a senior pastor) that he did not have the mental or emotional energy to respond to all that was requested of him and I stepped in to ease the misunderstandings of people or to assure them not to take it personally. To question whether your husband is being led by God by how he responds to your messages or requests is not fair. Trust the process that God is allowing. If God is calling your stepson to ministry then God will give him the opportunities in His perfect timing and give him the ability to talk to the pastor, himself, without having to have his mom monitor or help out at every turn. (And I say that graciously, not accusingly.) I know you want to see your stepson supported in his desire to be in ministry. But perhaps you can see that the ministry is also a heavy burden and one of the most valuable things your stepson can learn now is that pastors are often judged, misinterpreted and critiqued for many things OTHER than how they preach and run their church. And they are often overworked and judged for failing to follow-up on the many requests they receive. Please have your son talk with your pastor directly (I'm assuming he's an adult by now) and let this be something you talk more to God about than your pastor or anyone else. With grace and understanding, for both you and your pastor's family, Cindi.

Chanel
Reply March 26, 2017

last year,my pastor had two member stand before the church and confess to an affair(the male was a minister)and after their confession she(my pastor is female)asked if any congregational member knew about the affair-and when those that knew or heard about the affair raised their hands-she told them they were just as guilty as them for not speaking up to them about the affair-so that followed me with guilt because I was one of those that heard about it! just never knew at that time we could speak up on it. Two weeks ago(March 12th), I sadly found out the Pastors daughter was having an affair with the same minister in the church-and being I WAS friends with the Pastors daughter-I spoke up about the affair just informing her that I didn't condone nor respect it and I thought it was wrong-especially,being she was friends with the wife like I am-she wrote me back a nice-nasty text and then I left it alone-because I thought it was my duty in boldness to speak on it!so that day in church-pastor usually greets me with a smile and small talk-this time she didn't-instead,while a skit was occurring she sat with her back to me the whole time-and when she started preaching it was to defend her daughter-my mind was blown-This past Sunday(19th)-I had decided to just take a break from church d/t the fact,I was confused and just needed some time to think about what happened last Sunday and try not to find fault in my pastor-until I got a phone call from my sister telling me I needed to come to church-I asked her why?she said to defend myself-I then asked her from what?cause I THOUGHT what happened last Sunday was done-NOOOOOOO..Our Pastor did a whole Church call asking people what they knew about her daughter and The ministers affair-not so she can apologized or FIX IT!but to scrutinize and tear down anybody who voiced anything about it!namely-by throwing their past in their face-and she was discussing me and my text to her daughter that previous Sunday(mind you,her daughter nor the minister were present at church as Pastor was defending them-instead they were out of town with each other that Sunday)so I went and I defended myself and let her know her exact words that if we knew someone was doing wrong in the church and didn't speak up-we were just as guilty as they were-she didn't like that!and more exchanges were met-but I noticed she kept asking me why I wasn't at church?and I told her the truth..because I didn't want to come to church today(heck,the people your defending aint even here)and finally!she dismissed me from church-like I was a little kid and it crushed my spirit hard-but I left...and later that day.my sister came over to my house banging on my door and said I had to come back to church-because Pastor said if I don't its on my sisters hand..and that made me even more angry....like how?like why are you cursing my sister for YOUR daughters sin?why are you putting this on my sisters hand-when your the PASTOR and your defending the act because its your daughter,instead of making them do the same thing you made the minister and other member do last year..my trust in pastors went from YES!to Unsurety...however-I remain rooted in GOD..but im taking a break from church...and now all the congregational members are acting distant from myself(who was very active)and my family(my mom and sister)they still graviatate towards my niece though...my soul been hurting evey since..like what are you telling me GOD?leave or stay..and right now...and right now..staying aint a option...

    Cindi
    Reply March 27, 2017

    Chanel:
    I am SO very sorry you have experienced such abuse in your church by the person who calls herself a pastor. The term "pastor" literally means "shepherd" and she is not shepherding the Lord's flock. She is apparently abusing them for her own selfish gain. I wholeheartedly believe you need to not only take a break from that place that calls itself a church, but leave to find a church that is led by someone who is humble, obedient to God, and preaches the Word of God, not spouts personal agendas from the pulpit. Sadly, there are many pastors who are abusing their position of authority...the Bible calls them "wolves in sheep's clothing." I believe those who abuse their position of power (as it sounds like your pastor is doing) will not escape God's judgment and wrath. Please steer clear of any pastor who abuses his or her power to manipulate the congregation. See Ezekiel 34:2-12 about God's response to irresponsible and abusive shepherds.

Marie
Reply March 28, 2017

Reading this blessed me but I have a question. My pastor is spirit led and his motto is "If it isn't written in the Bible I don't preach it."Our church is thriving and is growing by the hundreds. However I feel and I'm not the only one our Pastor is very "clickish." While he strives to do everything in excellence and you walk through our church doors it's as if you're in a concert with so much effects and ambiance. He creates an atmosphere but I feel like its all a fluff. While our church is gorgeous my Pastor lacks on attention. He prides himself alongside his wife that they are down to earth and love to fellowship with the congregation -- "all you have to do is ask". That statement can't be further from the truth. When we have tried to fellowship with him to build a relationship with him we get blown off. His wife says oh I'll check dates and get back to you. Ok right? Well recently she always says they are so busy but I've been hearing other couples who sporadically will get an invite to hang out or go over for dinner. What a surprise that it's the same click he always turns to. My husband and i have built a strong relationship with the assistant pastors but its sad that the senior pastor is very cocky and at times can be full of himself. How do you approach him? He is very intimidating and always makes you feel bad. He claims that if he has wronged you he'll fix it. Not true at all. We are new believers and started serving in ministry but this is weighing heavy on us. What do we do?

    Cindi
    Reply March 30, 2017

    Marie, I'm sorry you feel blown off by your pastor and his wife. To be honest, I had to cringe when you used the word "clique." I remember my early days as a pastor's wife and being accused of having a "clique." I remember thinking that was an unfair accusation because we all have friends we want to hang out with, right? So isn't everyone with a group of friends guilty of having a clique" -- their preferred set of friends? Yet pastors and their wives are usually the only ones expected to be friends with everyone and not get closer to one couple than we do to another. That's an unfair burden as well as an unfair expectation. I remember telling women who thought they weren't in my "clique" that if they wanted to be a part of my clique, they should start being where I was. Start coming to my book studies or let me disciple them because those were the women I hung out with ....those who wanted to grow spiritually and who fed me as I fed them. I suppose it's difficult to understand if you're trying to get on the "inside" but really there's no "inside" or "clique." It's all about relationship-building, as you said, but sometimes it's hard for ministers and their wives to let their guards down and have a close relationship with everyone who asks because they risk being hurt. Already, they are being accused of being "cliquish" "fluff" and "cocky." You asked what you should do. Start praying for your pastor and his wife. As we pray for people God softens our hearts toward them and helps us to see them the way He sees them. If some of your observations are true then the Holy Spirit will impress upon your heart HOW to pray for them. Perhaps they are saying "if you want to get close, just ask" but truly guarding their hearts. If that's true, it's because of hurts or even insecurities that they probably haven't shared with you. Pray for them, Marie, and see how God moves in your heart...and prayerfully in theirs, too. Thank you for your question.

Anonymous
Reply September 11, 2017

OK. so I want to chime in from the single woman's point of view. How do you deal with it when the pastor and his wife encourage you to meet one-on one with them separately? Or, when the wife encourages you to travel with the pastor in a group? This happened to me. The pastor would discuss ministry issues with me (individually) and the wife would discuss relationship/emotional issues (individually). At first, this seemed to work because I had a specific ministry calling that the pastor was expert in. But eventually, I became attached to the pastor emotionally. And, I didn't know how to express this to him or his wife. I believe, more strongly than ever, that women should counsel/disciple women and vice versa for men. Also, regarding the traveling, there can even be danger if you travel in a group with anyone you are emotionally attached to. At the first sign of attachment, please pray and do whatever you can to flee the situation. In my case, there was no sexual infidelity, however I believe the appearance of evil ruined our relationship. I no longer attend that church and I am hesitant about joining another. So damaging but praying for God's grace.

    Cindi
    Reply September 11, 2017

    Thank you so much for sharing this experience and warning. I appreciate you wanting others to know of the vulnerability we can feel and how to put hedges around ourselves and our feelings by not allowing ourselves to be in a situation alone with a pastor (or any man, for that matter) that we can eventually become emotionally attached to. It is VERY common for women, single or married, to become emotionally attached and/or physically attracted to their pastors. Yes, single ladies, guard yourselves and your pastors' integrity by having healthy boundaries. I would think a pastor and his wife would greatly appreciate this.

Bianca Stopani
Reply September 12, 2017

Hi Cindi,

I enjoyed reading your article which helps provide insight and wisdom into this situation. My pastor is very kind and patient enough to sit with you and address your spiritual ,marital, financial and any other kinds of issues. He's like our spiritual counselor at church. However, there are certain topics that can make him feel uncomfortable to discuss such as accepting my husbands past or getting over an insecurity with his past. When the topic has been brought up, he immediately gets defensive and shuts down and says I should "get over" my husband's past and move on, rather than being empathetic enough to understand me and help me figure this out. I am not sure why people fee uncomfortable discussing the past. Maybe the past is too much of a painful and uncomfortable subject for many but God has given me the strength and courage to confront it and deal with it. How do you deal with a pastor that does not understand you and your issues and dismisses you and makes you cry out of frustration of not being heard? My church is a small church by the way where we don't have other ministries. It's just one pastor leading a congregation of let's say 100-200.I do pray for my pastor to be led by The Holy Spirit rather than the flesh.

    Cindi
    Reply September 12, 2017

    Hi Bianca, thank you for sharing your situation and reaching out with a question. I think it's important to keep in mind that your pastor is most likely not a licensed marriage and family counselor. Many pastors aren't. That means they counsel (some do so reluctantly) with their own ability as best they can, and prayerfully the Holy Spirit's guidance. In a smaller church like yours where there is no counseling ministry, it might be best for you to seek your help and counsel outside your church from someone more objective and qualified to help. Some of our issues -- or our husband's issues -- can be quite complex and there are materials, curriculums, methods, and resources out there to help us through things that pastors aren't really aware of or capable of leading us through, themselves. If you feel "shut down" by your pastor and he even acts defensive about a topic, it could possibly be a trigger of pain or temptation in his own life. (Please don't receive that as an accusation or even an assumption, as I have no idea of the details or those involved.) Remember, pastors are redeemed people with a past as well. For example, many pastors don't feel comfortable talking about pornography from the pulpit or in counseling sessions. Could it be because of their own struggle or temptation with it? We all get defensive at times or try to avoid situations that remind us of our own past, as well. I'm pleased to hear you are praying for your pastor. I've always been an advocate of biblical counseling first, but you may need to seek counseling/advice/help from a Christian counselor who is biblical in his or her approach. Many pastors are pastors because they are students of the Word of God and they feel called to shepherd people, but that doesn't automatically make them qualified or effective counselors who can help us delve into the deeper issues that God is wanting to heal us of. I hope that helps.

Bianca Stopani
Reply September 12, 2017

Hi Cindi,

I appreciate your quick response with more insightful wisdom. I absolutely agree with you. I have always felt that maybe he hasn't come to terms with his past or healed from it. With that being said, now I'm praying for God to heal him from his past if that's the case. I also believe that a licensed marriage and family therapist is what we need. We are currently seeking couples counseling outside of church and that seems t be working for us . I thought maybe our pastor could help but he can only help us to a certain extent. Thank you once again Cindi. I will continue to pray for wisdom, for my marriage and for our pastor to be more sensitive to others.

God bless you😄

    Cindi
    Reply September 12, 2017

    I'm glad you responded back, Bianca, because my husband, a longtime pastor, had a suggestion for me to give to you. What helped him tremendously (because he has never considered himself a counselor, per se, yet he pastored a church around the same size as yours) was when a faithful and mature couple in the congregation suggested the implementation of a "Stephen's Ministry" at our church -- a ministry in which people are trained to come alongside others and be a support, a sounding board, a good listener, and in some cases, a biblical guide and counselor. This couple at church offered to take the training and head up the ministry and it ended up helping my husband so much because people were paired with others who had similar life experiences and were trained to help those in the church body who were struggling with certain issues. To this day, he has a tremendous respect for a Stephen's Ministry and how it can not only help ease the "counseling" burden of a pastor but can help the congregation tremendously. You might pray about suggesting this to your pastor and maybe he has people in mind who can go through the training to bring something like this on board at your church. You can get more information about a Stephen's Ministry at www.stephenministries.org.

Cynthia Mobis
Reply September 18, 2017

Hi Cindi,

I am so glad I found this site. I read a lot of the previous comments along with your responses, and have learned a great deal. I feel that you are the right type of person to help guide me in the right direction, and help me view things under better "lenses." In particular, the last interaction of posts between you and Bianca Stopani, I think is something my church could benefit from.

I left a church that I consider to be a "hands on" cult. The ministry controlled the mind, actions, time, and money. I still have tapes of the services. They always taught about hell, and how God was never pleased with us. Many couples have divorced under this ministry, and many have left. Only a few people have left managing to obtain freedom in their minds. Most of the others are bitter, hurt, and refuse to have a relationship with church, or outwardly live for God.

Although I have not been a member of that church for nearly ten years, the healing process has been slow and difficult. People pushed buttons I didn't even realize were still there. Many times, it resulted in taking me all the way back to my negative church experience. In my heart, I can not say that I feel hatred for these people, but it has caused me to place boundaries in my life which does not allow people the opportunity to hurt me (a second time). As it was, in this new church they are very nice, but many people would say things to me, misinterpret, and judge situations without coming to me. It really hurt and set me back too much, so I decided I wanted different results, so I changed myself. I read that we are to guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23), so I watched the attention I brought to myself, and became more quiet. I was that person who always explained themselves. I figured everyone knew about me and my thoughts, but no one was being forthright about themselves (felt like an awkward fool) so Proverbs 29:11 helped me to stop speaking my whole mind.

Like I mentioned, I have been at my church for nearly ten years. At the time, I immediately joined the choir, sang solos, and helped with cleaning the church. At the same time I was in school.....oh, and during all of this I was newly married. It became a bit too much with all the "noise." I became very sad, feeling alone, and like I had started pleasing people like in my former church. When I tried to talk with parishioner's about where I came from and what I suffered, my feelings were often dismissed, and others tried to equate their experiences with mine and telling me that everyone suffers. When I tried to take a little to the Pastor, his response was I'm sure they did the best they could with what they had. I am not so self-absorbed to believe that I am the only person who suffers this way (this site proves it), but I needed spiritual guidance and help. I believe that God through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit can deliver me, but I needed help/guidance so that I could get a better understanding, and heal properly. I quit everything to focus on my relationship with God, and tend to my other priority- my husband. Because I knew how little I would be understood, I did not "explain" away my whole thought process. I am sure this probably wasn't the best measure, but it was the only thing I could think of to do at that time. Since then, the Pastor took singular opportunities to emphasize how much he appreciated certain people for "hanging in there" with their services, versus people who do not. There are many instances when he would say things as he ministered that were directed to me. I understood he was trying to "provoke me to good" but he never took time to "understand from me" any issues before coming to conclusions. There were many other situations (why me??!!) where things were not as they seemed, and he had a say about them but never came to me - even my husband was disturbed. He has not even bothered to try to help understand my past in counsel (with my husband) in order to help me. Others have traveled far a way, even had birthdays, and he has been genuinely happy and inquisitive. But when I traveled to Romania, and came back, it was like he worked hard to ask did I have fun. I wanted to share the spiritual effect the trip had on me, but after the reception, lost my enthusiasm. I used to learn so much from him, now I feel as though I can not trust him to lead me, because I feel he doesn't really care (for me). I do feel that this pastor is a good man of God, and I do not (hate) him, I am just very disappointed, and do not agree with some things/ways. I am a person who came from a place that controlled me, and no one from my church seems to have suffered being controlled they way I have - I haven't even expressed all the ways. So, I kinda feel no one can help me. Once I can overcome this, I believe I can be "that" person.

I have prayed for myself, my Pastor, and the church. But do not know how to engage him. I fear that my effort to deal with it all by going to speak with him would be in vain. I feel that he will "inadvertently" dismiss me and use our conversation to show how wrong I am and still not help me - all I want to do is to be understood and helped - not hurt any further. So what do you do when both the Pastor, and the parishioner feel they are being wronged? How does the parishioner move forward? How do you distinguish between God's correction and the Pastor's personal feelings? Right now I can not distinguish, so I do my best to "eat the meal, and spit out the bones." I apologize for the book, but I have been searching for help for quite a long time.

    Cindi
    Reply September 20, 2017

    Hi dear Cynthia. You sound like me in some ways. A person who at one time felt the need to explain all they felt, but eventually realized people will not understand, only God will, and sometimes less words are better. I'm sorry you feel alone and misunderstood. We were not meant to feel that was in the body of Christ...that is why we have a church, to have a family and others to support us and help us through our struggles. But just like with our physical families, there is dysfunction in our spiritual families (church members) as well. Cynthia, have you read my book "Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs"? It might really help you go through that healing process and be okay without being understood by others, even your pastor. As you go to God first and pour out your heart to Him, you realize who you are in His eyes and it then doesn't bother us anymore if others misunderstand us or even think we are "less spiritual" because we don't meet their expectations. We are more able and stable to deal with whatever comes our way when we know our spiritual husband/shepherd (the Lord Jesus) has our back and knows our hearts. I know it is within our nature to desire close relationships with others in the church and our pastor, too. But know that the Lord sees your tender heart, your desire for unity (as well as to be real with others) and He will not disappoint you. It's safe to vent and cry out to Him. He won't misunderstand, gossip or see you in a different light after that. :) My blog this past week was to stop asking for the things we think we need (to be understood, to have relationships reconciled in the way we want, etc) and start asking for Jesus only. When we start seeking more of Him, we find we don't need the other things we thought we had to have. (Use the coupon code "dramafree" and you can save $3 on the already discounted price of my book "Letting God Meet Your Emotional Needs" when you order it on my website. And please let me know how it helps.) Your tender heart is in my prayers today.

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