Recently, I had a church consultant say something most pleasant while simultaneously disturbing to me: “Alan, you really have that ’nice guy factor.’ Not a lot of senior pastors have that.”
I deeply appreciated the compliment, but I was saddened by the follow-up statement that few senior pastors are nice guys. After processing my friend’s sentiment for a few days, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t necessarily agree that most pastors are not nice guys. Yet, after flipping through the mental Rolodex of pastors I know, I was sadly reminded that some of us really aren’t all that nice. Some are downright arrogant, mean and self-centered. I was also reminded that there have been many times in my own experience when I’ve been that way myself.
So why do we not always have the ”nice guy factor”?
Some of us have been wounded.
Wounds in ministry are many, and often they are unavoidable. Betrayals, gossip, cynicism, false accusations, power grabs and complaints are things that can discourage us and over time can even wear us down to the point of breaking.
Help for wounded pastors: Go to counseling and read The Search For Significance by Robert S. McGee, especially the parts focusing on BLAME. Pastors, we are much nicer people when we forgive others quickly and stop looking at others with suspicion. Pray that God will help heal your wounds and teach you to forgive those who’ve hurt you.
Some of us are insecure.
Insecurity kills pastors, and we often don’t even recognize it. When we are insecure, we look to things like numbers and approval to make us feel better. When numbers are down and/or approval is absent (or complaints are present), we become more and more discouraged. When we are insecure as pastors, we may be afraid to let others speak from “our” pulpits (as if the platform is ours instead of God’s). We feel threatened when someone on our staff outperforms us or when the church down the street is growing faster than ours. Insecurity makes us speak negatively of others and makes us look for the worst in others. We do this because it makes us feel better about ourselves.
Help for insecure pastors: Go to counseling and read The Search For Significance by Robert S. McGee, especially the parts about the performance trap, approval addiction and shame. We are much more pleasant when we see the best in others and find confidence in the fact of our forgiveness in Christ. This breeds a God-confidence that is inspiring to others and empowering to us. Insecurity will rot away at you like a cancer: Deal with it quickly!