10 Reasons Some Pastors are Mean

I recently published a post onWhy Some Church Members are Mean.” If you read this blog often, you know I love and respect pastors – but I must admit that a few pastors are mean, too. Here are some of the reasons behind their “meanness”:

  1. Some are not believers. That’s a hard sentence to write, but I’ve known pastors who genuinely come to know Christ after they’ve started ministry. Then, His Spirit softens that pastor’s heart.
  2. Some spend too little time with God. Pastors often admit they spend too little time in Bible study and prayer. They do those things in preparing sermons, but some find it hard to have consistent spiritual disciplines—and they’re not under the Word that changes people.
  3. Some are having troubles at home. Those troubles, too, might be related to the pastor’s attitude. What happens, though, is that he allows those troubles to influence how he treats people in the church.
  4. Some have been beaten up with criticism. Some of the criticism may have been justified, but too much of it can make anyone cynical and frustrated. It just gets tiring, and it’s hard not to retaliate in a mean way.
  5. Some are dealing with private sin. Continual conviction and ongoing defeat take their toll, and the pastor lets that burden affect his relationship with others. Often, he doesn’t listen, and he responds in a curt way.
  6. Some deal with anger issues. Perhaps they grew up in an angry home, but they haven’t conquered that issue yet. They’re mean when they let anger rule their life (see “10 Reasons Anger is Often a Problem for Pastors”).
  7. Some have been recently wounded. They don’t usually carry a grudge, and they forgive quickly – but a recent event is still creating some inner turmoil. That turmoil sometimes makes itself known in meanness.
  8. Some listen to nobody. That is, they don’t have a friend or mentor who can speak into their lives. These pastors walk alone, and nobody has permission to help them see their apparent meanness toward others.
  9. Some simply don’t recognize that others see them as mean. They’re not self-aware, and they can’t even imagine others seeing them as mean. They don’t recognize that sometimes their facial expressions appear angry and their words come across as mean.
  10. Some aren’t really called to this work. They might recognize that reality, and their daily work is more frustrating than edifying; hence, they allow their inner tensions to come out as meanness.  

What would you add to this list? Pastors, how can we best pray for you?   


  • Mark says:

    It is not that they are always mean to everyone. To whom or which group do they appear mean? Growing up, it always seemed that the preacher/pastor was mean towards kids. We got nothing from the sermon. We did not have children’s church. Perhaps it was because the older people in the congregation were happy with him that no one seemed to care about anything else. Some preachers/pastors don’t know how to deal with kids and younger people. Fast forward to college where there was chapel. Those who preached just seemed to lambast us and condemn us all to hell, even for the sins of others. I am sure their sermons were supported by the administrators who invited them to speak and the large donors. While they may have had decent motives, the delivery was terrible. I never understood why no one with power would ever tell a pastor/preacher that he was coming across as mean. All this did was run a lot of people right out of Christianity. If you don’t condemn it but sit quietly as it goes on, you condone it. That made me upset with both the mean preacher/pastor and the powerful person who could have stopped it but didn’t.

  • Rick Bowman says:

    Pastors are human. Below the angels. Sinners. The best fall short, And the worst can be devils.
    Look only to Jesus for direction, inspiration, forgiveness, and salvation.
    Perfection is found in God, not in a man.

    • No excuses says:

      To Rick Bowman…I don’t always reply to comments but I felt compelled to reply to yours. You made good points that pastors are human, with the worst coming across as “devils”. But to say just move on and only look to Jesus is not completely true, because it’s Jesus who appointed pastors in the first place. Remember the apostle Paul said to follow him as he followed Christ. A bad preacher or pastor can lead an immature or baby Christian changing the trajectory of his Christian walk (in the wrong direction)….it’s up to mature Christian’s to intervene if we see that happening. Why is it so easy for Christian’s to just throw our hands up and say “they’re just human so follow Christ “, when bad leaders in churches are everywhere and only get worse over time? Unfortunately, sometimes confronting a pastor even in the most respectful way can backfire, where you become the problem since now you’re the enemy of the church, according to the pastor who refuses to acknowledge he could possibly be wrong. Some Christian’s manage to mature in spite of, and not because of, the leadership, but what about those that don’t have strong personalities and no spiritual backgrounds? They can be easily led astray. In fact that’s how cults are formed. And even those that aren’t necessarily in cults, a bad leader in any church can cause unspeakable and sometimes irreparable damage to the body. It’s time for bad pastors to be confronted (at first in the kindest and most respectful ways possible, but much firmer if they refuse to change), when they exhibit bad behavior, especially if it’s been long-term, instead of us allowing them to get away with their “only human” cop outs. To make a pastor “untouchable” by saying we shouldn’t expect more causes people to get their eyes off of Christ and onto the pastor since the pastor can theoretically do no wrong, even if he IS doing wrong . Maybe God is saying to some to “wipe the dust off your feet and leave” but they shrug it off because they don’t expect much from the pastor since he is after all, only human, and why rock the boat? Saying he’s “only human” means to excuse everything he says or does, no matter whom he may be hurting in the process. In a way that’s exalting the pastor over Christ, since we also have a responsibility to the entire body of Christ and not just to look out for ourselves. A pastor is supposed to be a good example to the body, and if he’s not a good example then he’s either called but still rejecting the word of God, or he’s not supposed to be pastor in the first place. Either way, he’s doing more damage than good, and no man should be left in that position unless he sincerely repents and changes his behavior. If any “Tom, Dick or Harry” can do the job, then what do we need a pastor for in the first place? We’d be better off spiritually “self-governing”, but God appointed pastors, so there must be a reason for that. And although there are many great pastors out there, there are sadly many pastors that appointed themselves to the ministry, and were NOT called by God. Others may have been called but end up wishing they weren’t and do more harm than good, because they won’t receive correction even when presented in the right way. Their pride won’t allow them to be corrected by those they consider “beneath them”…We will know them by their fruit, and fruit can be good, or it can be rotten. It’s up to us to know the difference.

  • David says:

    Well written and helpful.

  • Jose Najera says:

    Jose Marzo 24 2019 6:00 PM
    El pastor es una persona que en su medio no solo lidea con las personas que lo rodean y que lo ayudan o estorban, sino que se cumple una vez mas el hecho que en su ministerio muchos caen en la soledad, dejando atras la relacion con las personas que los rodean, por no encontrar una relacion verdadera, ya que muchos tienen al pastor como una ser supremo, o especial, y prefieren rodearlo antes de buscarle y ministrarle porque aunque no lo entendamos, el pastor nesecita ser ministrado tambien por su iglesia y asi llevar una vida mas entregada al saberce amado y saver que no esta solo en el ministerio, sinembargo, la soledad de muchos pastores cuando llegan a cierta edad, y no encontrar esa respuesta de las iglesias que han servido o que sirven, les afecta en su caracter, y no presisamente que sean malos o molestos, sino que la gente los clasifica asi por su sombra que los sigue en sus vidas como seres solitarios que viven y sirven a Dios de la forma que Dios les permite y ayuda para asi poder lograr vivir su llamado.

  • No excuses says:

    I’ve attended a few churches since becoming a Christian, two were long term, the others in between, a few months, then leaving. I love church but have been disappointed by the actions of church members….in reality, it’s the pastor, or others in leadership, that usually sets the tone for those in the church. If the pastor or another leader is mean and gets away with it, then the result is members who can say or do whatever they want to, without regard to the feelings of others, and not fearing they’ll ever be called out for it. In one short-term church I attended the pastor said some unbelievably mean things from the pulpit, often pointing out people in the pews, making one person (his “person of the week” you could say, and sometimes the same person more than once) his scapegoat while the rest of the congregation giggled at his so-called “jokes”. I didn’t stay long there, but long enough to see the evil of it….praising God in worship service then cursing people made in Gods image for the rest of the service. SUCH hypocrisy!!! I kept waiting for someone with any level of authority to meet with the pastor and point out what should have been obvious to everyone in the church, but that apparently never happened and just kept getting worse. So I left. In hindsight I saw that God was keeping me from joining as a member because every single time I went to sign up something happened to distract me and I left without ever taking the necessary steps towards joining. I stayed for three months . I would have left sooner but I kept hoping it would get better. Before I left I tried to meet with the pastor to voice my concerns. Even though I hadn’t been there long, I knew in my heart I would probably be leaving soon. I couldn’t bear to see church members get beat up like that and no one coming to their defense. I thought maybe saying something to him in a respectful way, telling him what I had observed, might make it easier for those that would attend in the future. A truly humble man would have welcomed the insight, but then again, a humble man wouldn’t have done what he was doing in the first place. I thought maybe he’d see how he was coming across and get some help. I had only good intentions. When I asked for a meeting requesting only 15 or 20 minutes of his time, he said he had absolutely no time to spare. I guess I wasn’t worth his “precious “ time. Who doesn’t have 15 minutes to spare, especially someone who’s supposed to care about the flock? I’m not and have never been a high-maintenance member of a church. I’d met with the pastor of the church I attended for over 20 years only twice that whole time, I don’t demand special treatment in any church I’ve attended and I try to be respectful of other people’s time. If I can find solutions without going to the pastor, I pray about it and God shows me what to do. With the pastor I mentioned I guess if I was the mayor, or a high class member with plenty of money, he’d have FOUND the time in his busy schedule to meet, and probably way longer than 15 minutes. He’d have cleared his schedule for that!
    One of the worst experiences of my Christian life! Over a year later, after I’d moved on, I had a dream even though I had not been thinking of that pastor in a long time. In the dream I was driving down a highway and the pastor was in a car in the lane next to me and swerved right in front of me cutting me off and then instead of trying to see if I was alright he and the man with him (another local pastor I recognized) started laughing hysterically and kept on driving. Further down the road I saw people getting run off the road one by one, some young, some older, by this pastor running them off the road, and I understood God was saying this is the damage they were causing, and didn’t care. The strange thing is, I never knew these two pastors were connected in any way then found out from a friend later on (without me saying one word about the dream to her) that Pastor ——- and Pastor ——- had been friends for years, and one of them had mentored the other in how to pastor a church. I prayed about the situation, but I have no idea if anything has changed, since I’ve not seen either pastor in several years. I’ve not talked with anyone from either of their churches and I don’t feel compelled to, unless God would put it on my heart to reach out in that way. But none have crossed my path and I’m not the type to kick doors open. In the dream I sensed Gods strong displeasure in both of their behaviors. Some pastor’s (not all; some pastors are great men of God) think that since they’re pastors, “giving up so much for their calling”, God gives them mercy he may not give others, but the opposite is true, since,as leaders, (leaders are, after all, teachers) will be held MORE accountable, not less.I’ve seen bad behavior from Christian people both in the pews and in the pulpit, and I’m getting tired of hearing “they are after all, still human”. I agree with that statement, but when someone becomes a Christian, their heart should change and they should be more like Christ, their language and attitudes should change, and they should be kinder with one another, without compromising biblical values. I’ve seen way too much of the opposite behavior, and I think it begins with many pastors not emphasizing the nine fruits of the spirit, not for themselves and not in their sermons. I hardly ever hear a sermon on that no matter which church I’m in… That’s a good way to see if we as Christian’s are growing in the love of Christ, or just going through the motions.

  • Mary says:

    I went through something similar as above. Left this church 20 years ago and they still approach me in weird and hurtful ways and have never let go of me and moved on like a normal church group. Everyone is a scapegoat for their hurts. I have had to ask the police what to do with the types of dysfunctional personalities in these leaders, and have followed their advice to a T. Any form or resemblance stalking people pressurring them to give you attention or power or whatever, is wrong, evil, and sinful. God spoke to me about staying away from them, and this is what I do.

    • Mary says:

      The second to the last sentence should read: Any form or resemblances to stalking, like the behavior this Marietta, GA. church uses to pressure you to give them attention, power, or whatever else that is unwanted and not from Jesus, is wrong, evil, and sinful. I would hate to see their Judgement Day!

  • Mary says:

    The second to last sentence should read that when stalking people stalk or act in a way that resembles stalking and they make excuses for it, they just want attention, power, or they really want to hurt you like they are hurting. This is not about anyone but them. If they are trying to pressure people into doing something like come to their church, it is never going to work, because to say it nicely, oil and water don’t mix and I can’t mix with those people.

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