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Pastors Might Not Lie, but They Sometimes Stretch the Truth

I don’t know any pastors that are liars. It’s very rare (as it should be).

However, over the course of my 14 years in ministry, I and many pastors I know have lied through a not so blatant method: exaggeration.

Here are four areas church leaders tend to exaggerate:

1. Exaggerating someone’s gift.

As leaders, we are constantly challenging people to leverage their gifts for the kingdom of God. This puts us in the position of constantly giving people feedback on the quality of their gifts. Along the way, there’s a strong temptation to be over the top with our praise which can lead people to believe they are more gifted in an area than they really are.

This isn’t encouragement, it’s flattery. This can lead to frustration for these people when we don’t use their “incredible” gifts for ministry.

2. Exaggerating personal stories in your messages.

You have a great story to illustrate a point in your message, but it would be so much better if “this” or “that” had actually happened. You’d have them rolling in the aisles if you could say your friend actually said “this.”

Don’t compromise your integrity for the sake of a laugh or emotional moment in a story. The end doesn’t justify the means. No story is worth compromising your integrity.

3. Exaggerating church stats.

Attendance, church giving … you know what I’m talking about. When your buddy at another church asks how the church is doing, don’t stretch the numbers.

Be grateful for what God IS doing. Your value as a leader doesn’t come from your church’s stats. Your value comes from whom you’re working for. You’re not competing with anyone.

4. Exaggerating your prayer life.

It can be easy for church leaders to fall into the trap of hyping up their prayer life to keep up with people’s expectations. This is very dangerous. You can actually begin to “read your own press” and believe you’re walking more intimately with the Lord than you really are.

Be honest with yourself and others. There’s more fruit to be found in leading from where you are than where you portray yourself to be.

In the moment, exaggeration seems innocuous. We justify its rationale a million different ways “for the sake of the kingdom,” when, in actuality, our integrity is dying a thousand tiny deaths.

Pastors, our words matter. By God’s grace, let’s be committed to be honest and upright in our leadership in every area.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Anything you would add? Share below.

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Nathan Rouse is a fellow church leader that is passionately investing in the Church as a pastor and writer. Over the last 15 years in ministry he's been seized with the calling to mentor young leaders for ministry. As a student of church leadership he is committed to collaborating with other church leaders to effectively make and send disciples around the world.