The Gospel Coalition on how People are to ‘Care for their Pastor.’ Are Neo-Calvinist Pastors Coddled too Much? My Unique Push Back

A Gospel Coalition article talks about the role of the pastor and how they labor hard for their flock. How they are above reproach and work hard in sermon preparation. It calls for Christians to blindly support them, build their library, submit and follow. When I read this article and thought of people like C.J. Mahaney, Mark Driscoll, Mark Dever and other I laughed so hard I almost spit milk on my computer. This blog post is a strong reality check to The Gospel Coalition’s article.

“You can coddle your child and tell them, ‘You’re the best in no matter what.’ But in the end when they go out into the real world. I think its pretty tough out there and other children are cruel. “

Amy Chua

“They cut the umbilical cord, give you a slap on the ass, and presto! you’re out in the world, adrift, a ship without a rudder.” 

Henry Miller

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

Acts 20:35 NIV

Does this baby represent Neo-Calvinist pastors?

They had this interesting article at The Gospel Coalition that I want to tackle and pick apart.  The article is called “7 Ways to Care for Your Pastor” by Shawn Wilhite. This Berean is going to look at an article that concludes by emphasizing submission to your pastor. (Snort) So with that let’s be insubordinate and ask questions, and raise issues. I am absolutely stunned by how many Neo-Calvinists deify and make their pastor an idol. In addition I also want to state that I am not undermining the role of the pastor. I wrote a heart felt post last year to my old pastor which was designed as a tribute. I meant every word then, and I still mean every word. You can read that stirring tribute in this post here.

Having said that there are a lot of issues with Neo-Calvinists and how they view their pastor which I find to be toxic and outright dangerous. I also would contend that their view of pastors and how congregations are supposed to respond only pampers, coddles, and stunts those congregations in the end. Plus it hurts the pastors as well. In the article I will explain why. I lifted the article off The Gospel Coalition website and I will respond with my comments being in red. From here on out my comments will be in red.

*****

How do you care for your pastor?

I started to understand this when I read an article that was later turned into a small pamphlet titled Praying for Sunday: You, Your Pastor, and Your Next Sermon. It’s a practical resource that provides tremendous insight.

After serving in pastoral ministry for six years, I know addressing pastoral care can be awkward. But it doesn’t always have to be.

Here are seven simple ways church members can care for their pastor.

Okay…now here’s one thing I don’t get…there are many jobs in life where you just have to roll with the situation. In other words….it goes along with the territory. You want to be a fireman you need to deal with the schedule and pass the testing that is required. Plus you have to keep and maintain the qualifications. You want to be successful in business it may require time away from home and working the phone and putting in more hours than you would plan. Want to work as a police officer? You may have to go through a polygraph, psychological screening, and deal with investigations from time to time. It goes with the territory. Want to be in the Marine Corps get ready to deploy and move around often. When I was growing up my father was a surgeon. He had late nights, and was on call. There may have been a serious accident on the I-5 in California and they were medically evacuated to the hsoptial where he had to work, or perform emergency surgery. But that is the job he signed up for.  Looking at the start of this article it makes it seems as if pastors have more stress than other professions and are in a league or their own. To that I say the following: Get off your pedestal and live in the trenches and be down to earth. Get out of your bubble, and let me say welcome to the world.

 

1. Pray for and with him.

This one’s probably the most obvious. During my first year pastoring, the qualifications struck me to the core (1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:7–9). There is a vast difference between studying them and realizing your position depends on them.

Lightstock

Pastors need prayer every day. Not only are they bombarded with menial administrative tasks that steal their time, they’re assaulted with temptations to pride, laziness, and lust, among other things. We ought to pray for their perseverance in remaining qualified—which includes being “above reproach” (1 Tim. 3:2).

Further, pray with your pastors. Seek them out. Their hearts are as heavy as yours. And there is no greater joy than knowing the people of God are praying for you.

Well…to read that part about pastor’s being “above reproach” caused me to almost spit out my milk all over my computer screen. Thanks Shawn Wilhette! So let’s see…you have a pastor (C.J. Mahaney)  who is dogged by allegations of covering up child sex abuse, blackmail, and of using money to sway people preaching at T4G.  He is no longer above reproach. Then you have Al Mohler who has been the recipient of C.J. Mahaney’s money prop him up. I would suggest Mohler is no longer above reproach. Then you have Mark Driscoll….yes I know he may not be the darling of the Neo-Calvinists yet for the longest time he was. I am still waiting for Justin Taylor to repent for how he treated Janet Mefferd and called for her show to be boycotted. After all Mark Driscoll’s plagiarism is a proven fact. Let me be frank…if the Neo-Calvinist movement actually practiced what they preached T4G would not be occurring. Also can I be frank…we all deal with temptations…each of us every single day. Also when I see C.J. Mahaney actually be humble, and Mark Dever willing to take criticism and listen to differing points of view, then maybe I’ll consider their “hearts to be as heavy as yours.” Right now I look at them as arrogant asses more often than not. That’s just me being blunt.

 

2. Talk to him about his sermon.

On average a pastor will spend anywhere from 10 to 20 hours on sermon prep. If he preaches two to three messages a week, that means he’ll spend 20 to 45 hours on sermon prep alone.

If your pastor is an expository preacher, come prepared to hear God’s Word. If he is preaching a topical series, contact the church office to acquire upcoming topics and passages. Study the text before coming to church and ponder thoughtful questions to ask.

A faithful shepherd finds great joy in explaining the Word of God. Ask what he learned from his study. Ask a question you had while reading it. Ask what theological issues the passage relates to and how. Begin a conversation about the sermon. After 20-plus hours of preparation, you have a source of wisdom before you.

Why do people always assume that expository preaching means God’s word? What about all that expository preaching that Mark Driscoll did…now look at him? Was he teaching God’s word in Mars Hill Seattle? Was God’s word preached in Mars Hill Seattle? Did that include all the talk about oral and anal sex….is that part of God’s word? Sadly I would venture to say that there are not many faithful shepherds out there. Instead you have many people benefiting and profiting from the pulpit, enriching themselves, and using it for personal advantage. That is a crying shame. Also I have to say that10 to 20 hours of sermon prep…? I’d say that is a little inflated. The poor suffering pastor…excuse me while I wipe the tears from my eyes knowing how C.J. Mahaney has suffered. (NOT!)

3. Tell him how God is growing you.

When I was a pastor, one my greatest joys was hearing sheep tell me how they were being refined. It was so encouraging to hear what they were learning and how the Lord was growing them.

Notice Paul’s response to hearing from a previous congregation:

But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us the good news of your faith and love and reported that you always remember us kindly and long to see us, as we long to see you—for this reason, brothers, in all our distress and affliction we have been comforted about you through your faith. (1 Thess. 3:6–7)

This report brought great comfort and strength to Paul. It put wind in his sails. And it will rejuvenate your pastors to hear about your growth in the Lord.

I think it’s a little presumptuous to say that God is growing a person in such an area. This is if I am going to be really frank and state the following…a person that can state with authority ‘God is growing me like this…’ has a really low view of God and doesn’t understand him in the end. Plus I would be willing to state their view is very simplistic. That is not how God operates, God is much bigger, majestic and complicated. I’ve given up trying to figure him out. But there is no one way to tell how a person is growing. Thoughts? Push back?  I welcome differing points of view below.

 

4. Care for him financially.

Pastors typically make little money. Your pastor may even qualify for food stamps, though he’d never tell you. True, he ought not shepherd the flock of God for sordid gain (1 Pet. 5:1–4). But if your pastor isn’t being paid generously, his mind and heart are likely divided:

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and “the laborer deserves his wages.” (1 Tim. 5:17–18)

We ought to make sure our pastors are financially stable. The local body combines their financial resources; they give to their pastor to free him to shepherd without concern for his poverty.

Watch his kids to give him and his wife a date night. Provide them with a family outing on your dime—perhaps anonymously. Be creative and generous with your financial care.

First let me say that the Pastor’s salary should be available to the congregation. Transperancy is everything and it is especially true here. I mean consider…salary information for teachers, civil servants, members of the military are all available. You tell someone you’re an Air Force Captain and they can figure out your rough salary online as its public knowledge.  Likewise you can find the salary information for a civil servant employed by the FDA. The other aspect I find troubling is that this article feeds a sense of entitlement. For example C.J. Mahaney told people to give until it hurts. Some people were giving so much dinner was oatmeal! Meanwhile on their dime C.J. was taking his family to Disneyworld! Maybe as part of his repentance C.J. Mahaney can foot the bill for people from SGM Survivors to go to Disneyworld. Many Neo-Calvinist pastors are already living a life of privilege and excess. When the pastor is living better than the congregation that should be a red flag. I would honestly then ask….what are his reasons for doing ministry? To help others or help himself? I mean its awful to say this but the Bereans need to be dilligent in asking these questions.

5. Care for his wife.

The pastor’s wife has a difficult role. As a pastor, it always discouraged me when I heard about a problem in the church from my wife. “How’d you hear about that?” I’d ask. Someone in the church told her.

Caring for your pastor means helping him protect his wife from much secret and ugly stuff in your church. I promise you, she doesn’t need to know everything.

Moreover, have realistic expectations of her role. She’s exactly like you, a servant of Christ. She’s exactly like you, a wife trying to honor her husband. She’s exactly like you, a struggling and discouraged mother. She’s exactly like you, a woman trying to honor the Lord with her life. She’s exactly like you, an ordinary church member. Love and serve her, then, as you would others in the body.

So let me get this straight….something illegal could be going on and the situation could get worse but the goal is to “protect” the wife from any bad news, or issues. I think in reality people have to remember that the wife of a pastor comes along with the package. You can’t get one without the other. As a result I would think it would be in the wife’s best interest to have a pulse as to what is going on and know the details and dark stuff. If there is a person that is attending who is on probation and released from prison for downloading child pornography and is sexually attracted to children, shouldn’t the wife of the pastor know the details so that she too can look out for others and make sure the law is being followed? I am using child sex abuse as an example…but really it comes to so many other issues..finances, major decisions, elder meetings, and much more but shouldn’t the pastor’s wife know about the inner workings and members so that she can look out for her husband, and maybe mediate? That is very reasonable.

 

6. Build his library.

Your pastor’s library is one of his prized possessions. He loves his books and, he needs them. And he likely needs to acquire more. They will help him become a better pastor, theologian, Bible interpreter, counselor, husband, and father.

Note the short list of items Paul desired as he neared the end of his life: “When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments” (2 Tim. 4:13).

At the end of his life, the imprisoned apostle wanted the companionship of his closest ministerial friends and reading material.

Don’t necessarily buy your pastor books you’re reading or think would help him. Do some digging. What’s he preaching on? What’s he studying? Does he love biblical languages? Ask one of his trusted friends. Does he have an Amazon wish list? If not, ask him to create one.

Build his libary…Sweet! In that case the first contenders would be Philip Yancey, Greg Boyd, Peter Enns, and so much more! Where do I drop the books off? 🙂 On the flip side if he has C.J. Mahaney or Mark Dever in his library can I help carry off those books to use at the baby diaper changing station? You know…an emergency stash so if you run out of baby wipes you are good.

7. Follow his leadership.

I purposely saved this one for last. Submitting to your pastor may be difficult. But you’ll bring joy to his heart—and to yours—if you fall under his godly leadership:

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb. 13:17)

A direct correlation exists between your obedience and your elders’ joy. Work hard to submit—gladly, not begrudgingly—to their leadership. It’s your Savior’s means of providing spiritual oversight to your soul.

It may be helpful to start a conversation with your senior pastor, elders, or others to determine what this might look like for you. If you struggle to submit, be honest about that with others in your life. There are times it’s wise to leave a church. Either way, initiate the conversation.

How are you presently caring for your pastor? What are some other ways you could care for him? I pray you’ll be encouraged to do so and begin implementing some of these ideas.

Hands down categorically there is one thing we as Christians are called to do before we are called to submit. We are called to search the scriptures, question and challenge when appropriate. Pastors can be wrong. Look at Mark Driscoll and his rants about the Biblical basis for oral sex. Look at John Piper who can’t even admit that he was wrong to support Mark Driscoll and repent of it publically. Christians are called to be discerning and sharp. They are not called to be dull, blind followers who have Kool Aid being ingested by an IV system. The pastor is not responsible for my soul. Jesus is…the pastor did not suffocate at Calvary…Jesus did. The pastor is not the final answer, Jesus is. The pastor is not God…Jesus is. This take that Shawn promotes deifies the pastor and makes him God. It neuters the sheep and creates problems. I wrote a post about this the other day in how celebrity pastors spiritually cripple the sheep. In that they dumb down, neuter, and stunt them in the end. You want to cripple a person’s faith…have them read John Piper. How and why? People are crippled because they adopt John Piper’s thoughts and cease to think for themselves. Basically you create clones who follow blindly who spit out another’s person’s answers. They however have not dealt with those answers themselves. When their faith crisis or trial comes these are the people who will be the first to go by the wayside.  

By the way I must ask…why is every pastor viewed as Godly? C.J. Mahaney is a blackmailer who allegedly covered up child sex abuse. If you want to read about his blackmail you can do so here.  Mark Driscoll is a plagiarizer. Al Mohler accepted large amounts of money from C.J. Mahaney which was documented at The Wartburg Watch. (Can we say Gospel Centered Bribery?)  Neo-Calvinists are teaching people to practice blind submission which is enabling and creating problems. God gave people a brain, he created it so that people can use it. By blindly submitting people are neglecting their greatest gift that the Lord bestowed on humanity and mankind. That of utilizing the human brain. I’m a surgeon’s son, and my Dad used to marvel at the intricacies  of the brain which he learned in medical school. The best way to honor God is to utilize that brain, ask questions and challenge your pastor. If your pastor is loving he will appreciate a good challenge. It’s with that in mind that I am done reviewing this article. I have one request for many in the Neo-Calvinist world please grow up. Act your age. Please? Thanks guys as always I love you.

9 thoughts on “The Gospel Coalition on how People are to ‘Care for their Pastor.’ Are Neo-Calvinist Pastors Coddled too Much? My Unique Push Back

  1. As a whole, for specifically Shawn’s post, I could take it or leave it. Coming from the TGC, a lot of it strikes me as disingenuous. But from the standpoint of someone who grew up in a pastor’s family, I recognize some truth in many of his points. However, 2 points struck me as odd.

    First, the notion that the pastor’s wife gets her info second hand from disgruntled people. A pastor’s wife is often his confidant, the person who helps him stay sane when the politics of church leadership (and it is mostly politics) get to be too much. I find it incredibly odd/troubling that any pastor’s wife would be told something she didn’t already know at least some details of.

    Second, the “submit or find a different church” comment made me sick. Basically, he said “if you struggle to submit, find someone who’s willing to put you through the conditioning program. Of you still have problems, leave!” This mentality specifically is one that quickly breeds abuse and cover up. A very dangerous ideology.

    Anyway, like I said, the other points didn’t strike me as odd, except in retrospect of the place where they were posted. But those two specifically would give me cause for concern coming from any source.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good points Nate. Many Neo-Calvinistr struggle with differing points of view. You nailed it there with this “leave..” That in itself is immature and shows how many are drunk on authority. They want to control people. Great comment bro!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently looked up every reference for the Greek word Poimen, which is translated as Pastors ONCE in the NT and Shepherd the rest of the time. If I recall this word features about 16 times.

    Have a guess how many times its used in context to describe a salaried, religious professional?

    Guess how many times the Poimen is Jesus?

    How to care for your Pastor?

    Give me a break.

    Let’s worry about the orphans and widows first.

    The devourers are at the bottom of the list.

    I encourage you to look up those Poimen passages.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was in and out of a lot of churches growing up because my mom was a professional musician. I have been astonished at how much the function of pastor has changed in the SBC over the years. I put the change squarely on the shoulders of seminaries.

    Whereas they were once viewed as basically paid employees who were part of the priesthood, they are now viewed as practically the paid Holy Spirit for the congregation.

    There will always be narcissistic charlatans attracted to ministry but what bothers me the most is how much congregations have changed. They now seem to fall right into line with the idea that God appoints pastors to teach them what to believe. There is no more dangerous idea. It is as if the last 300 years did not happen and people are reverting back to a sort of state church mentality ignoring the concept of soul liberty and individual Holy Spirit.

    the grown ups in my childhood would never have paid a pastor to lord it over or claim some sort of authority over them. That is just not how it worked.

    A lot of this is culture change. People want gov to take care of them and pastors to tell them what to believe spiritually. And we are talking about literate people who can study and pray on their own!

    Oh yes, Neo cal pastors have it tough. I know the drill as I live at ground zero and can’t swing a dead cat without hitting one. They cut and paste Piper sermons, go on church paid mission trips with buddies and conferences. They would not understand hard work. They have little accountability except to their like minded buddies. They have convinced themselves this is all very spiritual.

    I just don’t see the need for preaching anymore. The same resources are at our fingertips for free. And they often have an agenda with scripture that is not a simple quest for truth.

    It makes one go to scripture to take a hard look at “pastor’. Anyone can be a pastor. Most of us pastor people all the time.

    I just find it bizarre people pay someone to behave in the ways we have seen. Obviously they are not growing in wisdom in those sorts of churches or they would stop giving them money.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “Let’s worry about the orphans and widows first”

    These perfumed princes who are so caught up in themselves and how we should minister to them should learn from Paul. He was wearing people out in his travels taking a collection for the persecuted Jerusalem church. And Paul had few comforts.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. ” Basically, he said “if you struggle to submit, find someone who’s willing to put you through the conditioning program. Of you still have problems, leave!” This mentality specifically is one that quickly breeds abuse and cover up. A very dangerous ideology.”

    I see this happening all over the place here. Often YRR have stealthily taken over a debt free church that have some large legacies left by older people who died to live off but at some point the money will dry up if they put out everyone who dares speak up. The YRR church plants usually have subsidies from the SBC or well heeled friends of Mohler.

    I watched one recent stealth takeover and within one year it went from a consistent 500 to now 250-300. Most don’t say a word. They just don’t like what they see and leave. But the church pays the M.Div YRR dude bro 80,000 a year. More than the previous PhD who was one of the priesthood.

    The YRR talk a big game and then blame others. It can take a while to figure out because they pull the “dude bro” bit and whine.

    They are a shallow whiney lot. Thank you, Al Mohler who also was given way too much power roo soon and never gained real wisdom.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Well this certainly puts a whole different spin on pastoral care. Wilhite puts in the imperious reference to us non-pastors as sheep and our job is to care for the “pastor”. I put scare quotes around “pastor” because it upside down. If Wilhite thinks “pastors” are not one of the sheep then I must conclude he must be one of the wolves.

    And what missive from TGC is complete without the obligatory reference to (Heb. 13:17). I think if you search the internet for “misused bible passages” it may come out on top. Their continuous demands for the sheep to submit to them exposes the villainy at TGC.

    Wilhite also exposes a sense of entitlement. I have run into this from both ends, “pastors” who think they “work so hard” and the people who have fallen for it. Sure some may work hard, but I’m guessing that a good deal of their “sheep” work even harder. The “pastor” at my former church even preached a sermon on how we should respect his day off even though many of my peers there worked a good deal more than forty hours a week, volunteered their evenings and weekends, and taught on Sundays. But the “pastor” thinks he should also get Friday off and not be bothered by the sheep because he works a couple hours on Sunday. If he works Sunday, try contacting him or finding him in the office Sunday afternoon.

    And by the way, I’m working this weekend. I’m writing this while waiting for a database to be updated. After that I’m working on some non-profit board stuff. Don’t you feel sorry for me too?

    Liked by 1 person

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