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The 5 Temptations of a Pastor


It’s strange how many of these temptations have to do with not telling the truth. But if you’ve hung around with pastors long enough, you quickly realize that truth is often the first casualty of an environment filled with high expectations.

Take how we handle ministry ‘results’ for example.

Let’s say your church isn’t growing, for example. Who wants to admit that? So it becomes very easy to say, “We’re not about breadth, we’re about depth,” or, “We’re not one of those shallow churches that uses gimmicks to attract people.”

Or, let’s flip that. Let’s say you are growing but you have a gaping back door. It’s just as easy to say, “We’re about reaching people, not keeping people.”

Both approaches compromise the mission. Because the mission of the church is to reach people with the love of Christ and see them mature in the love of Christ.

Pastors, don’t just preach truth. Live it.


One of the hallmarks of a New Testament church is unity.

But it’s so easy to work toward false unity, kind of like a dysfunctional family that pretends everything is great when it’s not. Or the family that stifles truth for the sake of appearances (“everything’s fine kids, just fine…”).

Even a cursory glance at the New Testament church shows that the unity of the first century wasn’t easy or false. Paul and others had some long, honest conversations and fought more than a few battles to get it. Just read First Corinthians.

True unity comes on the other side of honesty.

False unity sweeps things under the rug, ignores warning signs and pretends everything’s great when it’s not.

Honest conversations, humbly undertaken can lead to true unity.


Speaking of conflict, when you really engage it, things can get intense.

It’s so easy in that moment to attack people, not problems. In fact, many leaders conclude that people are the problem. But wise leaders refrain.

When you attack problems, not people, you can begin to make progress.

People aren’t the problem…the problem is the problem. People, as hard as it is to believe, are the solution.

Don’t Assume the Worst

There may be some people who are out to harm you, but most people aren’t. They are sincerely doing what they believe is best for the future. Their vision just conflicts with yours and that of your team.

If you have a habit of taking non-personal things personally (as I do), it can be easy to impute bad motives where none exists.

If someone is threatening the vision I’m advancing, it may seem as if he or she is somehow against me. However, the more I’m able to believe the best about other people—especially people who disagree with me—the better leader (and person) I become.

It allows me to separate the person from the problem and attack the problem, not the person. Believe the best about the person who disagrees with you, not the worst.

Leaders who assume the worst tend to get the worst.

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Speaker and podcaster Carey Nieuwhof is a former lawyer and founding pastor of Connexus Church, one of the largest and most influential churches in Canada. With over 6 million downloads, The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast features today's top leaders and cultural influencers. His most recent book is “Didn’t See It Coming: Overcoming the 7 Greatest Challenges That No One Expects and Everyone Experiences.” Carey and his wife, Toni, reside near Barrie, Ontario and have two children.