Lee Grady penned a no-nonsense article last week cleverly titled “10 Stupid Things Ministers Should Never Do.” The ministry of Dr. Mary Ann Brown left an impression on Lee, and in his article he recalled some of her sage advice, which was: “Lee, please don’t ever get stupid.”
I was talking to evangelist Steve Hill of Brownsville Revival on Friday evening and our conversation reminded me of Lee’s article. Steve told me he’s sadly watching pastors fall into a lukewarm theology. The next day Steve had a prophetic vision about an avalanche that could kill thousands that we shared with our readers.
There are indeed many dangers for last day ministers. Whether you are an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, there are temptations and pitfalls at every turn. There are fiery darts coming your way. It can be difficult to know whom to trust. But that doesn’t mean you need to get stupid.
So, if you are a minister, or if you aspire to be one, please decide now not to do the 10 stupid things Lee mentioned. And, for good measure, please decide now not to do the 10 more stupid things I’ve outlined below that, unfortunately, have also become common in our movement during the past decade.
1. Abuse the sheep. Always remember that church staff—and church volunteers—are serving God, not you. Spiritual abuse is a dirty little secret in the charismatic church that is seldom exposed because it would topple small and large man-made empires alike. If you aren’t willing to be the servant of all—if you think the sheep are there to serve you—please hang up your ministry aspirations before you hurt someone. We don’t need more spiritual abusers in the pulpit.
2. Water down the gospel. If you aren’t going to preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth—so help you God!—please don’t preach. Although there are many effective preaching styles, if you aren’t bold enough to preach the whole gospel—even the parts people don’t want to hear—then pray for boldness until you are.
3. Refuse to release people into ministry. God’s people don’t belong to you. You aren’t the one who called them, Jesus did. You aren’t the one who anointed them, the Holy Spirit did. If you feel threatened at the notion of your worship leader moving on—or your members attending a conference at another local church—your insecurities are perverting your leadership. Equip people for the work of the ministry and then let them fulfill their calling no matter where God leads them without cursing them on their way out the door.
4. Focus on gimmicks and programs rather than people. Seeker-friendly churches bring in bubble machines to attract the kids and A-to-Z programs to attract the adults. When the focus is on glitz, glare, glamour and gimmicks rather than meeting the true needs of people in the community, church can quickly become more like a Christian Club Med (or even a circus) than an expression of the kingdom of God. And that’s just dumb.
5. Ignore evangelism. Failing to pursue evangelistic endeavors has got to be the height of pastoral stupidity. Jesus gave us a Great Commission—and that means going beyond your many-walled church and into the surrounding community with the saving grace of Christ’s gospel. And refusing to have an altar call for salvations because you insist the lay people in your church should be getting them saved before bringing them to service is just plain stupid.
6. Refuse to network with other leaders. You may have accountability, but if you refuse to network with other pastors and leaders in your city then you are part of the division that’s running rampant in the church. Sitting on the wrong side of the unity table lacks common sense. Jesus wants us to be one as He and the Father are one. He didn’t make exceptions for denominational differences.
7. Failure to make prayer a priority. It amazes me to see how little prayer is going on many churches. Pastors who don’t make prayer a mandate in their church are shooting themselves in both feet and crippling their vision. And pastors who are too important to show up to the prayer meeting to join hands with the laity are sending signals that prayer is not their priority.
8. Overemphasizing spiritual warfare teaching. Spiritual warfare should be taught, but not at the expense of teaching the rest of the gospel. Pastors who focus too much on spiritual warfare are making unbalanced disciples that flow in suspicion rather than discernment and may all the while miss the devil’s work in their midst.
9. Quenching the Holy Spirit. For all the extremes out there with false prophecies, gold dust, gold teeth and angel feathers, quenching a genuine move of the Holy Spirit is stupid. Cutting the worship at three songs in order to rush to your memorized message when the Spirit of God is obviously doing a work is dumb. Put your pride down and let the Holy Spirit take control.
10. Burning out. The ministry brings pressures that can lead to divorce, emotional breakdowns and sin of all manner. Failure to take head to the warning signs of burnout is stupid and it can cost you your ministry.
At the end of the day, if you take on the David mentality you won’t get stupid. David said, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; In the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:4-8). Pursuing intimacy with the Lord is the smartest thing you can do. Amen.