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3 Ways Pastors KILL (and Are Killed by) Ministry

3. The loyal martyr.

Dependable team-player type. Loves and is loyal to a fault to the leaders above him/her. Will go to the wall for fellow staff and leaders. Makes a great associate pastor or ministry leader.

Like the Co-Dependent Messiah, has a hard time saying “no” (more out of loyalty to senior leaders than a Messiah complex).

Worst fear: Being accused of laziness or not being committed enough (“You’re doing this for Jesus, after all”).

Dark side: Tends to never question if the pace and demands of ministry are realistic or not until it’s too late. Enthusiastically agrees that “healthy life balance” is a priority for all Christians, but begins to notice that none of the church staff actually has a healthy balance (dissonance of values with reality).

Not wanting to work flipping burgers when he/she has a Masters in Christian Ministry, the Loyal Martyr will continue to serve and self-console with “doing this for Jesus” even if nobody else fully appreciates their hard work.

After burnout, quickly and easily replaced by next up-and-coming eager beaver.

If these three all end up serving at the same ministry location, it’s a toxic brew that will leave its mark on the whole church, usually in the form of a revolving door in ministry: bright-eyed and bushy-tailed new leaders on their way in to replace the limping-and-disillusioned casualties on their way out.

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Robby McAlpine is a veteran pastor, worship leader, missionary, and writer. He is a regular contributor at ThinkTheology.org, and has written numerous books, including Detoxing from Church, Post-Charismatic 2.0: Rekindle the Smoldering Wick, and The Genesis Cafe: Conversations on the Kingdom. Robby and Wendy have been married for 29 years, and have three incredible kids: a social worker, a missionary, and a student.