Time Out: If the senior pastor isn’t perfect

Topic / Time Out

Time Out (by Jerry Schmoyer)

Many youth workers seem to have a love-hate relationship with their senior pastor. While respecting and admiring him/her as their boss, you may not agree with everything he/she says and does. Sometimes hidden jealousy arises from within the senior pastor. Or, they hurt your feelings since the youth program may not be getting the focus it needs. Other times a senior pastor may criticizes you and thus harm your relationship. These situations can be fertile ground, a danger zone, a place of destruction that the enemy can use to ruin ministries and churches. If you allow negative feelings toward the senior pastor to fester, the rightly lit spark can set a volatile fuel on fire.

Consider the following scenario. Someone in the congregation comes to you with complaints and accusations against the senior pastor. This happens over time until finally this person approaches you, and tells you that you’d make a better pastor. Perhaps they start a movement to eradicate the pastor – and your name is attached as support, because you listened to the gossip. Maybe the movement wants to withdraw completely from the church, and appoint you as pastor of a new church where things will be done “right.”

These temptations can appeal to our ego in an impressive way. But seldom, if ever, does God work in this way. If there is a legitimate complaint against the pastor, steer the unhappy person, or group, to the proper board or committee. If it is your own complaint, take it to the proper channels only. Be sure to walk through this minefield very carefully. Get good advice from a mature believer outside of the church who is informed of and understands the situation. Do not speak to others and thereby gossip. Search your own heart for hidden hurts, revenges, jealousies, etc. Pray for wisdom and discernment. Do the right thing, the mature thing, not the easy thing, or the ego-motivated thing. Put yourself in the senior pastor’s position and apply the Golden Rule. Treat him as you would want to be treated, because chances are, one day you might be in his position!

1 Timothy 5:19-21, “Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism.”

1 Chronicles 16:22, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

Psalms 105:15, “Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”

Matthew 7:1-3, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”


  • Do you harbor any hidden jealousy or secret resentment against the senior pastor or anyone in church leadership?
  • Are there any hurts you have not forgiven? Forgive them now!
  • Are you in any way responsible for passing judgment on anyone in church leadership? Confess it as sin to God. If the leader is aware, apologize personally.
  • Ask God to protect you from wrong feelings toward anyone in authority over you.


Jerry Schmoyer has been a minister in Pennsylvania for over 25 years and has worked with teenagers for 14 years, ever since I became one myself. He authors the weekly Time Out series here at Life in Student Ministry in hopes to spiritually refresh your soul as you continually pour so much of yourself into students. God bless!

Posted on April 20, 2008

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