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9 Stereotypes of Pastors


A handyman is a good person to have around when you need one. A handyman is always on call to fix broken things.

He (or she, if we’re talking about a handywoman) has a wide range of knowledge, though not a lot of depth. He has the tools and the experience to get things working again. Many people see the pastor as a spiritual/relational/emotional handyman.

Got a problem with your teenager? Call the pastor.

Marriage struggling? Call the pastor.

Feeling unhappy about your job? Call the pastor.

Struggling with doubt? Call the pastor. The pastor can fix it.

Lots of pastors like being handymen and handywomen. If feels great to be needed. It feels even better to help people get better. People will love and appreciate you if you’re a handyman pastor.


No, I’m not thinking of the illusionists who saw people in half and pull rabbits out of hats. Rather, I’m envisioning real, though fictional, wizards like Gandalf or Dumbledore.

These folk have special powers to do all sorts of amazing things. Some people think of pastors this way.

They think we have a more direct line to God because of our position. They believe we can exercise our spiritual powers at will.

Once a man in my congregation was talking with me about a memorial service I was to perform for a member of his family. He said, “Then, after your sermon, you can wave your hands and do that magic stuff you do so people can feel better.” Usually, I didn’t hear this sort of thing so bluntly.

But many people thought of me as more than a handyman. I was God’s magician.


Some people in your church expect you to be a CEO, especially if you’re the senior pastor of a midsize or larger church. They’ll want you to provide visionary leadership and effective management so the church can grow in measurable ways (buildings, budgets, bodies).

Or, at least that’s what they’ll say.

If you actually start exercising transformative leadership, odds are you may end up out in the street, without one of those outlandish golden parachutes that soften the fall when secular CEOs are sacked.

There was a time when some of my elders at Irvine Presbyterian were unhappy with my pastoral leadership. They felt fine about my preaching and teaching. They had no problem with my vision, pastoral counseling or personal ethics. But they were not happy with what they perceived to be my lack of management of my staff.