By Thom Rainer
If I were to devise a scheme to destroy churches, I would find ways to attack the pastor. And as I found ways to attack the pastor, I would see his family as the area of greatest vulnerability.
Attack the church by attacking the pastor. Attack the pastor by attacking his family.
Perhaps the “attack” metaphor makes you feel uncomfortable. The Bible, however, clearly uses the imagery of battle to describe the challenges and issues we face due to the presence of Satan and his evil hoards: “For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:12, HCSB).
Families are under attack. Pastors’ families, in particular, are under attack. Here are seven ways I see this battle unfolding.
- Some churches have unreasonable expectations of the family members of pastors. Children and spouses often feel the unrelenting pressure to live up to the expectations of some church members. It can create resentment toward the church, and resentment toward their husband and father.
- Too many pastors put church members before their family members. Always remember, the church members who should have the highest priority of ministry from the pastor are the family members of the pastor. Some pastors get too busy ministering to others to the neglect of their own families.
- Some church members are critics of the pastor’s spouse. I spoke to a pastor not too long ago who resigned from his church because his wife was so hurt by criticisms from church members.
- Some church members are critics of the pastor’s children. I have heard from too many “PKs” who don’t return to church when they are adults because of the verbal abuse they received as children.
- Pastors’ children can rebel. The reason may be related to the criticisms or expectations noted above. A pastor who has to deal with rebellious children has a major ministry distraction.
- Too many pastors get too involved with church members of the opposite gender. Sometimes it leads to emotional affairs. Many times it leads to physical affairs. It often begins in extended counseling sessions. In my post next Monday, I will talk to pastors about “affair proofing” their marriages.
- Low pay can put stress on the pastor’s family. I actually heard what I previously thought was a cliché. A church member really said that the church keeps their pastor’s pay low to keep him humble. I wonder if that church member would like the same exercise in humility.
The Enemy is seeking to destroy our churches. And he is attacking what he perceives to be the greatest opportunity for destruction: the pastor’s family.
Pastors: please heed the warnings implicit in this article.
Church members: please do everything you can to protect your pastor’s family. Above all, pray for that family every day.
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This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on October 4, 2014. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.