10 Characteristics of Defeated Pastors

Over the years, I’ve worked with a lot of pastors who are defeated in the work of ministry. Here are some of the characteristics of those leaders. Not all have each of these symptoms, but many do.  

  1. They’ve lost their vision. Ask them what they want the church to be like five years from now, and they have no specific answer. They’re trying only to make it through the next day.
  1. They’re angry. Sometimes they’ve carried bitterness toward church members (even church members in a previous church) for a long time.
  2. They’ve lost hope. They might preach about faith and hope, but they have trouble applying their words to their own life. 
  3. They’re living in retreat. They show up at church, but they’re emotionally checking out. Distance feels safer to them.
  4. They cast blame. When you’re hurting, it’s easier to deflect the blame to others. When church members are the problem—and that happens—it’s also easier to magnify their failures. 
  5. They’ve lost their community burden. It’s hard to hurt over a community’s lostness when you’re praying to get out of that community. 
  6. They’ve dropped their own spiritual disciplines. They didn’t intend to let that happen, but worries and difficulties have strangled their personal spiritual walk.
  7. They’re losing (or have lost) their joy in preaching. The work becomes a necessary task and burden, no longer an incredible privilege. 
  8. They’re often wondering about their call to ministry. What was so clear and strong in the past loses some of its force when ministry is hard. 
  9. They don’t look forward to Sunday. The celebration of the Lord’s day is no longer that; it’s a day to endure. If that’s where you are, check out last Friday’s post on this site. 

If you’re a pastor in this state, please know that we’re praying for you. If you’re not a pastor, pray for your pastor right now. In either case, I also invite you to consider joining Thom Rainer’s “Church Answers Central” community where you’ll find support from other church leaders. Sometimes it’s just good to have someone who will help shoulder your burden—even if only via online conversations and prayers.  

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