All of these statements below are things I’ve heard a pastor say – some more often than others. Each time, I cringe a bit. Beginning with me, I urge pastors to be cautious about using these phrases.
- “The Bible says somewhere . . .” If you don’t know where the verses are, take time to find them. Too often, people use this phrase only to discover later that the Bible does NOT say it somewhere.
- “The Lord told me . . . .” I know the Lord speaks to us through His Word, His Spirit, and His people – but that’s different than our simply claiming an authoritative personal message from the Lord.
- “God’s using me to reveal His remnant.” You probably know why this statement bothers me: the pastors who use it are usually leading churches that are dying on their watch. This phrase is most often a spiritual copout.
- “I’m thinking about leaving.” The Lord may indeed be leading you to move, but sometimes using this phrase is only a passive-aggressive attempt to get people on board.
- “It’ll never happen to me.” “It” is a moral failure, and I’ve never met a fallen pastor who expected it to happen. Assuming it won’t happen is a first step toward disaster.
- “I didn’t have time to prepare, so please pray for me.” A lack of prep time may be legitimate in some few cases, but I suspect you won’t have to tell your church about it. They’ll figure it out.
- “I’ll never send out a resume.” It sounds more spiritual than sending out resumes – if God moves you without your sending out a resume, you’ll have more assurance of God’s leadership. On the other hand, it often takes more faith to proactively and prayerfully investigate potential opportunities.
- “I promise you it won’t go beyond me.” This promise of confidentiality without knowing what you’re going to hear can be risky. You might hear something that demands your getting others involved.
- “I understand what you’re going through.” If indeed you have been through what your church member is facing, you may have reason to use this phrase. If you haven’t walked in those shoes, though, your words ring hollow.
- “This is a true story – I’m not just preaching now.” I know it was a joke, but it wasn’t a helpful one.
What other phrases would you add?