No More Reverend Nice Guy

I was deeply saddened to hear of the apparent Suicide of the Rev. Teddy Parker of Macon, Ga.  He was just a few years younger than I.  In between services, he told his wife and children to stay behind, went home and shot himself while parked in his driveway.  He suffered from depression.  Clergy depression is something that no one really talks about. We just let those pastors figure it out.  According to a not-too-distant clergy health study done by the General Board of Pension and Health of the United Methodist Church, 25% of clergy were diagnosed with depression and far less of that number were on going treatment for depression.  An even more alarming statistic was that 70% of clergy stated that they did not have any personal friends.  Dr. Jamal P. Bryant said that 76% of clergy deaths happen on Monday.  Wow!

Being a pastor has always been a stressful job, regardless of the era or age.  According to insurance companies it is the second most stressful job only behind that of emergency room physicians, thus validating the need to have outrageous insurance costs.

Even in my own pastoral life I have had my own painful moments in the pastorate as I’ve heard things like:

1. My marriage is on the rocks because we don’t wear our wedding rings.  They don’t know that my ring breaks my skin out and Lisa misplaced hers.

2. He is sleeping with one of the officers of the church so that’s why he supports that leader so fiercely.

3. The pastor lost his home to foreclosure so that’s why he’s living in the parsonage.

4. He does not prepare sermons and he speaks too much about himself.

5. He fires everybody.

And the list goes on.  How many of these things are true?  NONE of them.  Yet, these are the work of some church folk.  There are always some who wake up to figure out how to make the pastor’s and the church’s life extremely difficult. It’s interesting to study the authors of such confusion.  If you take a survey of those engaged in this kind of activity here is what you’ll find.

1. Very few, if not none at all, are tithers.

2. None of them are engaged in any mission activity.

3. None of them are in “real” Bible Study that teaches Kingdom principles, spiritual growth and life transforming elements.

What makes this work even harder is the assumption, that this is a part of the job and that pastors just have to “deal with it.”  Uhhh, no I don’t. No, I won’t.  Not this one.

Being a pastor does not mean I have to buy into anyone’s perception about who or what I should be.  Being a pastor does not mean that I have to be a slave to perception, gossip and cruelty.  Being a pastor does not mean that I will be abused, mistreated or disrespected.  Being a pastor does not mean that my family is available to harsh and thoughtless comments my non-caring people.  None of those things have anything to do with pastoral ministry.  I don’t work for the federal government, I am not in political office and I my job is not guaranteed by opinion polls.  I work for the Kingdom of God which is trying to invade our wicked ways and create loving community.

So, today, I’ve decided that I will not let a congregation, any congregation be the source of psychological and emotional damage and abuse.  I’ve decided that I will not sign up with what I know is insanity, unfair and just pure nonsense to appease a group of people and keep them from getting mad.  I’ve also decided and am comfortable with the fact that there will always be those who suggest I can not preach, I am ineffective, I am not called, I only like young people, I don’t communicate well, I wear the wrong clothes, I am thoughtless and inconsiderate.  If you are a pastor, you have your list too.   There will always be those who will feel something negative.  In some ways, they may even be right.  But, I’m only human.  Christina Perri has a new song out that says, “I’m only human, I bleed when I fall, I crash and I fall, I can only take so much before I say enough is enough.  I’m only human.”  Pastors, you are only human.  You are not to bear the burdens of the world.  Just work to transform them, little by little, one day at a time.  But, do not wear or absorb everybodies anger and hatred which in so many cases has nothing to do with you.

I want to make a better commitment to myself and to actually live into being a little bit selfish from time to time.  I am going to make sure I take time for me when I need it.  I will not subject myself to seeking approval from anyone.  I will serve on purpose.  I will review every location for fitness of carrying out my call.  I will not sign on with insanity because that is my choice.  And, I will love every member.  But, loving them does not mean putting up with nonsense.

I must have this stand.  My life depends on it…and so does yours!

Preachers, please be healthy.  Preachers be free!  Live life!  Don’t wear a church’s dysfunction on your sleeves.  They’ve probably been like that for years and will be like that when you leave, no matter how good you are.

Preach the gospel, love the people but if you are going to bleed make sure it is for the cause of Christ and not someone’s ill will, misguidance and confusion.  There is a difference!

And for those who don’t get it, show them the door with these words, “No More Reverend Nice Guy.”

Enough is enough.  That is all.


~ by bkevinsmalls on November 26, 2013.

11 Responses to “No More Reverend Nice Guy”

  1. I love this! I would probably title it “No More Rev. Punching Bag”. I’m sure you’ll still be the nice guy we all know and love. He’ll just a firmer, more self-protective nice guy.

  2. I pastored a church that this was the perfect mirror of in San Francisco; and the present pastor is going through the same thing. This was a church that only wanted a pastor figure and not a pastor. The more I preach and taught the Word, the more hell broke out. For 8 years I went through. This article lets me know I am not or was not the only one to experience this. The deacons mastered a plan to get rid of me because I told them they were not going to pastor me or tell me what to preach. I lost the vote by 3 people. The vote took place during Christmas vacation when many people were out of town? But as of today, all of these deacons have since been removed and the church is still going to hell. When I look back and think about it on the outside it was a church, but now it has become a Club-Med; a vacation spot not to be restored, but just come and do what you want and live any kind of way…..

  3. Pastor, believeth thou this, I honestly would have been disappointed if u hadn’t said that. My prayer is God cover u to keep ur word!!! Blessings.

  4. Thanks so much for this, Kevin. You have written words that many of us wish we had written. God bless you.

  5. thanks for the frank talk! Sheep sure do bite sometimes!

  6. Great article! The unfortunate apparent suicide of Pastor Parker has caused all of us who are in pastoral ministry to take a hard, yet needed look at ourselves and the ministry and come to grips with the fact that we are just as human as the next person. The call and assignment usually causes us to “take” more than we would in any other job or profession and it’s my opinion that people (church folk) know that and take advantage of it. While reading the article, I saw myself in some of the examples given and I too resolve, with the help of the Lord…No More Reverend Nice Guy!!!

    No matter what, I’m going to keep preaching and teaching the kingdom principles of Jesus Christ; I’m going to keep loving them; and when God sees fit, I’m going to leave them in His hands and move on to my next kingdom assignment. We can’t save any of them, but we can fulfill our divine assignment!!!

  7. Many pastors don’t receive the type of honor and respect that is supposed to accompany the office of a pastor. There are a number of reasons for this. One such reason is that in many churches where the pastor has been voted into office, or appointed by a board of elders or deacons, that pastor doesn’t have the authority to actually make the decisions the Lord will have him to make, decisions that will be a blessing to church when they’re made. And because he doesn’t have that authority, he neither has the respect of the people that comes with that authority. People that speak nonsense to, against, and about the pastor do so because they don’t respect him.

    Many pastors are only pastors by title and not by the authority that should also accompany the position. Pastors that are not allowed by boards to actually pastor the church, are often at the mercy of others and feel as if they must bow to the will of the people just to keep, what’s no more than a job (without the honor, respect, and authority of the pastoral office).

    There is a frustration that, when it lives long enough becomes depression. And there is nothing more frustrating than being called (or entrusted) to a position of authority and not being allowed to operate with that authority, and consequently not receiving the respect of the people that comes when they know the pastor has the God-given authority to fully function in that office.

    The frustration, lack of trust to lead, dishonor and disrespect are all parts of a systematic scheme of the devil, operating through people in the church, to destroy the very person that God has called to help them. This is what we find in Judas, the devil using someone “in the church” to help destroy the Pastor of the church. That anti-pastor spirit still lives in the church today. But it takes people who truly love the pastor and value who he is called to be, to help guard and protect him from those who through frustration, lack of trust, dishonor and disrespect, contribute to his depression. The depression that overwhelms him and sometimes leads to suicide.

    In my soon to be released book (December 2013): Trouble: What Every Christian Should Know About Trials, Tribulations and Troublesome Times, I have a chapter entitled, “Trouble, Brokenness and the Spirit of Suicide”, and it talks about how there are unclean spirits whose purpose is to cause people to kill themselves. And unfortunately, among these “people”, are the very pastors God has called to help protect and bring eternal and abundant life to others. And it is a sad, said thing.

    Take a moment and read this article on my web site that I wrote some time ago. It’s purposed to help people help their pastor.

  8. This was a great article and it is your truth and the death of anyone is sad…but the truth of the matter is some pastors are not in this for the glorification of Christ, some are in it for the glory of self and it shows sooner or later.

    They know who they are… they are the ones who sleep with the congregation, steal money, want Rolls Royces as a “gift” from a congregation that don’t drive that kind of car themselves, they use the church as a hunting ground then wonder how they got fired and or prosecuted and you have member that support that kind of mess.

    Congregations have long glorified pastors over Christ (that’s the problem), all the honor belongs to Christ, period. It is a job that is not for everyone. You must not only be “called” but you must be a leader. Granted it was laid on your heart to be a pastor but I highly doubt God would have laid it on your heart without backing you up. He did it for Jesus so that means he will do it for you.

    Here’s the problem “the church” has the tendency to forget that the church is the body and Christ is the Head. And just like any body it has parts that are suppose to function TOGETHER. Meaning a pastor must know that in order to have the church functioning properly, you will need a PAID (salary and benefits like any other administrative assistant would get) administrative assistant that will keep the church office in order, not some volunteer that is given a “token” to do mediocre work or your aunt Jackie who never worked in an office a day in her life. That’s number one.

    Learn to delegate if you really look at Jesus’ walk you will see he didn’t have it easy, he dealt with other leaders opinion of him, he dealt with people misunderstanding his delivery of the Word, Jesus didn’t take the easy way out he was tempted and abused and he still held his Cup to the end. I’m tired of all these pastors complaining when they are getting over $75,000, plus benefits, gifts and a roof over their head to preach the Word, that same Word Jesus didn’t get paid for.


    Third, and this was second, delegate a real leader knows how to do that, but a person that is in it for glory doesn’t know how because they are scared someone else will shine better than they can.

    Hire a real administrative person and pay them, stop looking for a handout Jesus didn’t look for handout’s. Stop looking for someone to “serve” all the while knowing it’s a job that should always be a paid for.

    The secretary gets just as much stress from the congregation and most don’t get half the money pastors get. Please with the whining.

    That’s all!!! And it is also my truth.

    Signed: No more Ms. Nice tithing, ministry working, bible study going Secretary!!!

    Please, pastors some how thought “I will become a pastor and everything will be easy,” when most of the problem they are having is their own fault or one or more of their fellow pastor’s fault defaming “the church.”

    Please sit down so we can pray. Now That’s ALL!!!

  9. I certainly regret the scenarios where pastors are ineffective and compromised by personal battles and challenges. However, I was not referencing those I was specifically referencing how pastors often take on more than they can really emotionally and pscyhologically handle. I also wanted to bring attention to church bullying. Some pastors bully. I am aware of this. Maybe that is another article for another day, unless of course you wish to write it : ).

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