Ten Hard Questions Pastors Must Ask Themselves

"True success is nothing more and nothing less than obedience to God."
( [email protected] ) Aug 20, 2005 08:09 AM EDT

The average pastoral career lasts only 14 years and 1,500 pastors leave their assignments every month in the United States because of conflict, burn-out, or moral failure, according to the Christian research group, The Barna Group. In light of burdening difficulties pastors face, Thomas S. Rainer, founder of a successful consulting firm for churches, wrote out ten questions pastors should ask themselves before giving up.

"In 70 percent of the churches in America, the pastor is the only full-time staff person. In this environment the pastor is often expected to be omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient," stated Thom S. Rainer, founder of The Rainer Group, and recently elected president-candidate of LifeWay Christian Bookstores.

Rainer explained in his article that any role in leadership should be viewed in the long-term. Which is why "quick fix" solutions "usually do more harm than good."

"Long-term commitments are desperately needed in established churches," he said.

The ten things can be categorized into maintaining three sets of relationships: with God, with man, and with self.

Prayer, sharing the Gospel, and gratitude to God is one subset. Rainer believes, "The relationship between the pastor and God is a critical first step."

His first question is, "How is your prayer life?" Studies show that the average American pastor spends from 15 to 22 minutes daily in prayer. And one of four pastors spends less than 10 minutes daily in prayer. He points out that in Acts, the early church "unleashed the power of God through prayer to add thousands to the church."

Sharing the gospel is another prerequisite for being healed. "Vision is an outward focus of God¡¦s possibilities," he wrote. "Can we really expect Him to show us that vision unless we are outwardly focused ourselves? Whom did you tell about Jesus today?"

The other subset includes having a right family life, handling finances precisely, reconciling with others, loving the congregation unconditionally, and not being jealous of other churches.

Having a balanced and orderly family life and personal life is a hard question that pastors ought to ask themselves, according to Rainer. "How is your family life?" he asked in the article that ministers to pastors.

He quoted 1 Tim. 3:5, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God¡¦s church?"

"Do you need to reconcile with someone?" he asked. "God refuses to accept our worship and service until we are in right relationship with others," stated Rainer.

"Jesus said, 'Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.'

Finances must also be handled according to the Bible text. Rainer admitted that "Too many ministers are poorly compensated." He added, "Sometimes, however, it is not the level of compensation that is the problem. Rather it is our handling of the money. Are you handling your finances biblically?"

He warned against jealousy towards other churches: "God desires to give you His vision for your church. But how can we keep our eyes on Him when we might be so preoccupied with the apparent success of other churches?"

And finally, true success is based on faithfulness to God, not the numbers.

"True success is nothing more and nothing less than obedience to God."

The church-growth movement has demonstrated the importance of numerical measurement as a method for accountability. Numbers can be healthy if used in a proper context and with the right motive. On the other hand, we cannot let such numbers be our ultimate measures for success, he stated.

Overall, he declared that pastors are blessed. "Sometimes it takes a rude awakening for us pastors to realize how blessed we are."

His final question is, "Pastors, church leaders ¡X are you thanking God every day for his mercy, blessings and love? Are you focusing on the good, instead of dwelling on the negative? Do you have an attitude of gratitude?"