Ten Sentences That Make Pastors Cringe

Let me take you behind the scenes again in the life of a pastor.

For sure, your pastor is not likely to let you know the pain these brief sentences cause.

But, for most pastors, they hurt. They really hurt.

Here are ten of the most common painful sentences uttered to pastors by church members:

  1. “I love you pastor, but . . .” The pastor will only hear the words after the “but.” And they usually are painful.
  2. “Why didn’t you visit her?” Of course, she’s not a member of the church. She was in a hospital 70 miles away. And she’s married to the third cousin of the church member.
  3. “Gotta minute?” This question is typically asked in the time frame of one to five minutes before the pastor preaches.
  4. “Have you heard this podcast pastor?” Meaning: That podcast pastor is better than you.
  5. “Pastor, people are saying . . .” Of course, there are no “people,” just the gutless person who won’t speak for himself.
  6. “We’ve never done it that way before.” And that is one of the key reasons the church is dying.
  7. “I do pay your salary, you know.” In other words, it’s not God’s money; it’s my money.
  8. “I wish she had heard that sermon.” And the pastor was hoping you heard the sermon.
  9. “I wish I worked just a few hours a week like you.” After all, the pastor just needs 30 minutes to prepare a sermon and 30 minutes to preach it.
  10. “Your kids need to behave like pastor’s kids should behave.” You can find those standards in the Bible: Hezekiah 3:16.

What do you think of this list? Pastors, what would you add?

Posted on April 25, 2016

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • James pettis says on

    Love #7 being bivacational, i pay about a third of my own salary. And yes, I tithe on that too…because it is God’s money. Gotta love people, and I do.

    • KStock says on

      Isn’t “bivacational” one of the things people complain about, too much vacation? (Sorry, as a bivocational pastor myself, I couldn’t resist.)

  • No lie quote from a business meeting after the pastor removed the large wooden pulpit in order to have a praise band on the platform rather than choir only…

    “A church without a pulpit isn’t a church and a pastor who doesn’t preach from a pulpit isn’t a pastor.”

    Tied closely with the comment made to a young drummer who played for worship and was fighting the tide of people his age leaving the church: “When you play those drums, it’s like the devil got holt of you.”

    Every time I recall those words, my heart breaks for this young man.

  • Alex Clayton says on

    Thank you for the blog:

    MY VOCAL REPSONSE; to these and many more is:
    Thank you or you could be right

    MY PRIVATE THOUGHT: this is why Jesus calls them sheep.

    MY PRAYER: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”

    All with a smile.

  • How about this one? 5 minutes before starting the Sunday morning worship service, a layman comes and me and asks, “Can you get the plunger and come help me?”

    I was speechless….

  • Sadly, I’ve experienced four of the above and would add – “this is our church.” To which I replied, “No, it is Christ’s church.” All this in only four years as Senior Pastor.

  • Here are some of my favorites lol
    1. Pastor I’m not getting fed……not growing spiritually. (I don’t think the member understood that one can’t expect to grow spiritually by getting fed just once a week, and if she was not getting fed she should have learned feed her self……she claimed to be a Christian for a very long time).
    2. When I was preaching through the book of James, a member told me that I’m being legalistic/preaching the law rather than the Gospel/grace.

    The struggle is real…… lol

    If comment box is on top I think it would be better……took a while to get to the comment section on my phone.

  • Pastor so and so (insert name of a previous pastor) always did it THIS way…

  • Nicholas Haines says on

    “Brother, are you done preaching?” Then he called for my firing.

  • I think these are great. I think a great 10 list would be things people say to Pastors that Pastors could never get away with saying to them. Many of the things from your list would cross over on that.

  • Constance says on

    We want to say that making these kinds of remarks helps us to relieve the pressure. This is not what the Word teaches. The bible says that it is a shame to even speak of those things which are done of them in secret. It says that charity covers a multitude of sins. – Fervent charity. You have to ask yourself why when so many seem to have such negative responses toward each other. When we engage in this type of speech, we ourselves begin to see through dim eyes. Each and every one of these responses are spoken with a person in mind. Even if you don’t say the person’s name out loud, your mind knows who you are talking about and will never be able to see that person again except through the tainted view that you have given them. You are destroying your prayer life for these people. You are destroying your heart when you hold on and resist forgiving them. These are things that cannot be undone except through the blood of Jesus. Jesus tells us that we are to overcome evil with good. Let our words be pure.

  • E Dale Turner says on

    Today was my first time to participate in a Thom Rainer blog. The irony is the blog was about how Pastors are treated and how to find humor in the various situations and I was referred to as being pompous, judgemental and a few other things. But, I’ve been in the ministry 53 years and I have learned being a Pastor is a calling. If you are not called, it’s likely you will not stay with it. So, if you are discouraged, be faithful, continue to stay by the basics of reading your Bible and praying and God will guide you through the ups and downs. I’m pastoring my 4th church in all those years and I wouldn’t change a thing.

    • I believe your exact words were, “So, Pastor, stop complaining so much and get back to doing what God called you to do.” Why are you complaining now?

      • E Dale Turner says on

        Ken, I absolutely am not complaining. I am very pleased serving the Lord.

      • You most certainly did complain about the way people have talked to you on this blog. If you want people to be sympathetic to your complaints (yes, complaints), maybe you should show a little sympathy toward theirs.

    • Dude, you basically challenged the blogger and rebuked every commenter (“stop complaining”)! What did you expect?

      • I would like to think that he was hoping for people to realize what Constance so nicely said below.

        For that matter what Bonhoeffer wrote a few decades ago, to paraphrase, that God did not entrust these congregations to you for you to complain about them… or if we still want to suffer under the delusion that this is not complaining, then God did not entrust these congregations to you in order for you to make fun of them.

        Heck, Bonhoeffer wrote that before the Internet was a twinkle in anyone’s eye. I would say it applies infinitely more today.

        ” Pastors should not complain about their congregation, certainly never to other people, but also not to God. Congregations have not been entrusted to them in order that they should become accusers of their congregations before God and their fellow human beings. When pastors lose faith in a Christian community in which they have been placed and begin to make accusations against it, they had better examine themselves first to see whether the underlying problem is not their own idealized image, which should be shattered by God. And if they find that to be true, let them thank God for leading them into this predicament. But if they find that it is not true, let them nevertheless guard against ever becoming an accuser of those whom God has gathered together. Instead, let them accuse themselves for their unbelief, let them ask for an understanding of their own failure and their particular sin, and pray that they may not wrong other Christians. Let such pastors, recognizing their own guilt, make intersession for those charged to their care. Let them do what they have been instructed to do and thank God.”
        – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

      • E Dale Turner says on

        Dallas, I thank you for your contribution to this blog. It was filled with wisdom. Bless You Dallas.

      • FMJohnson says on

        Thank you for sharing this, Dallas. I’m in sympathy with E. Dale Turner and others here who have questioned the tone (not necessarily the content) of these pastors’ comments about their flocks, only to be treated as bad (or worse) by the readers than the flocks are treating the pastors. (Ephesians 4:29)

  • Pastor – You need to preach more “fire” and “brimstone” when guests arrive.

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