Thursday, September 20, 2012

Advice for Arrogant Pastors

I probably love Lifehacker too much, but I recommend daily reading. There is tons of useful stuff on there regarding productivity.

Here this little piece Lifehacker: Sabatoging Effectiveness with Intelligence could do a lot to help confessional pastors who are frustrated with their winkels or congregations. To benefit, you'll have to accept the fact that you think too highly of yourself and are a jerk, but it is time for that anyway. You think too highly of yourself. Admit it. You think you are a smart pastor, smarter than average, with a better insight into true Lutheranism. You do. If you didn't, you wouldn't be reading this blog.

We all think too highly of ourselves. Our piety has rightly taught us to be ashamed of that. It is good that we don't speak this way about ourselves even if we often feel or think these things. But our stupid pride has lots of ways of getting us. Because we won't say these things out loud, we might not even allow ourselves to admit we think them. Then we believe our own humility act and it becomes a point of pride.

As long as you deceive yourself about your own arrogance, this article will never help you. Trust me on this: it applies. Here is some very practical advice for how to get along with brothers in the Office who don't seem as smart as you or as confessional as you. And it also works for voters' and elders' meetings. If you follow this advice you will not only be better liked, but you will get more done and you will discover that these dolts in your circuit or the confused elders who think like an Armineans, aresmarter than you thought. You will get more done and you will learn things. And maybe you won't get thrown out of the Ministry either.

Now if I could just follow this advice myself :).


  1. Good for laymen at those voters' and elders' meetings too. :)

  2. You cannot confront emotions with intellect. And when it comes to life in the parish, many laity have a tendency to do things that satisfy them emotionally.

    Or another way to put it, as I recently learned, the facts really don't matter at all.

    1. You can't confront emotions with emotion. That turns into a sh*t storm quicker than you can say "voters' supremacy."

      And for every layman with a tendency to do things to satisfy himself emotionally, I can show you a pastor with the same tendency. If most of the laity are guilty of this, as you say, I'd guess all of the clergy are.

      There are times when evil will seem to prevail. Jesus could not have handled Pilate and the Sanhedrin any better than He did. But despite His perfect charity toward them, they hated Him. Sometimes the facts or the pastor's calm and gentle care for the congregation don't matter. Evil seems to win.

      But a pastor's arrogance and annoyance with his people and his own emotion never makes things better. Never. It also gives excuses to sinful voters' assemblies for their evil that is hard to contradict.

      Wives shouldn't divorce their husbands. But when the wife comes with hard evidence of constant verbal abuse, threats, neglect, and pornography and then says she fears for her life and that of her children, it is hard to tell her she can't divorce. She might not have perfect Biblical grounds for divorce. Her motives might not be pure. But the husband's sins have complicated things so much it is hard to know where the line is.

      So some effort at controlling ourselves and being aware of the dynamics is very useful, even it is not completely effective or successful, at the very least, to try and not make it worse.

      The modern problem, I think, is that the women who want a divorce know the right things to say to create ambiguity and so do evil voters. No husband lives up this call. We are all unfaithful in our hearts. So it isn't that hard to find bad behavior and exaggerate it. The same thing, I suspect, happens with pastors and congregations.

      But that doesn't mean that husbands shouldn't try harder to be faithful, that they shouldn't have porn blocks on their computers, etc. They should. And in the same way, pastors do well to heed the sort of advice that Lifehacker gives in this article.

  3. " Whoever exalts himslef shall be humbled, and whoever humbles himslef shall be exalted." True, one cannot confront emotions with intellect, but don't alway presume that it's the pastor that has the intellect and the voters and edlers that are the emotional ones. It is patronizing, elitest and a mistake to think that the laity have no intellect. Attaining a M.Div. does not necessarily mean one is intellectullay superior to others. The converse of patronizing the laity can be, and is equally true, and there are pastors who are most certainly devoid of intellect, a soul,common sense for that matter, and even Faith. They themselves to be controlled by their emotions, rather than intellect, or worse, sin and Satan permeates their souls.

    1. I thought that was rather obvious. Pastors devoid of these vices wouldn't need the advice from Lifehacker. The Lifehacker article, by the way, wasn't condoning patronizing others.

  4. While on the subject of arrogance and confessional pastors, hypothetically speaking, of course, what if there's a pastor whose arrogance and emotions lead him to make public a private confession (thus breaching confidentiality of confession and priviledged communication) while simultaneously and maliciously slandering ( also includes breaking civil law) and spreading gossip, naturally in violation of the 8th Commandment?Doesn't this make the violator morally and spiritually corrupt?

    1. All pastors are morally and spiritually corrupt. Some men do disqualify themselves from serving in the Office by their public sins. Their sins are too public and offensive for them to continue in the Office. They've lost the confidence of the people. But the Church Militant is only served by sinners. Pastors aren't lords. They are servants. They fail. They need the same comfort and grace that all Christians need.

      I don't know what you're talking about. But I know I've done things in my marriage that were terrible and wrong. I've been mean. I've been arrogant. I've been negligent. I thank God that He gave me a forgiving bride. Without grace, without deliberate and ongoing forgiveness and love, Christian marriage cannot last. The same is true for Christian congregations. I've probably been a worse pastor than I am a husband. I've shirked my duties. I've faked it. I've gossiped. I've lied. I've begrudged a thousand things. If the people did not overlook these things, if they fired my evil passions with constant criticism and picking, if they set me up for failure, I would have failed in terrible ways. But by God's grace, they have sustained me. They have covered for me, thought the best of me, helped me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. Thanks be to God for that.

  5. The Lifehacker article that you cite is quite good. Thanks for the link.


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