5 Really Bad Ways Pastors React when People Compare Them to more Successful Churches

This week I’m posting a series of blogs about how pastors respond when people in their church compare their leadership and preaching to others or when they brag about another church by insinuating that we don’t measure upreact, reactions, emotionality

Yesterday I posted 5 ways we should respond when we feel compared to others more ‘successful’ than us.

Today, we’re looking at really bad ways to react when someone in your church compares you to others. I’ve listed five unhealthy reactions here.

  1. Find something about the other ‘guy’ to criticize, like, “We’ll, I’ve heard he’s a real jerk when he’s one-on-one with other people.”
  2. Tell the other person that maybe they need to start attending that church.
  3. With a sarcastic tone tell that person, “Thanks, I really needed that!”
  4. In your mind, beat yourself up about what a failure you are.
  5. Go home and overeat, take your anger out on your spouse and kids, or look at pornography.

How have you or your friends reacted when felt compared to those in ministry more ‘successful?’

When Pastors don’t Measure Up to Others’ Expectations

meeting pastoral leadership expectationsYesterday I began a series of blogs to unpack this issue: what should pastors do when people in our churches compare us to other more “successful” pastors.

In that blog, I shared an email a pastor received from someone in his church who boasted about another super-successful pastor and his church. He was tempted to respond with sarcasm.

I don’t recommend sarcasm.

So, how should we respond when we feel compared to others?

Here are my thoughts.

  1. Recognize that comparison comes with the territory. As the old adage goes, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
  2. Ask yourself when you feel compared, “Is God trying to teach me something?”…about my confidence in where God has me…about what I can learn from this other pastors…about how I receive unpleasant messages.
  3. Respond with a gracious spirit to the person who compares.
  4. Don’t read in ill motives. Perhaps someone in your church simply wanted to share how God used another spiritual leader in his or her life.
  5. Thank God for blessing the other pastor.

How have you responded when someone compared you to another?

When Church People Compare their Pastors to Mega-successful Pastors

comparing your pastor to mega-church pastorsMany pastors secretly struggle with measuring up to the very successful. One pastor I know who has grappled with comparison received this e-mail from someone in his church. The names are changed to protect the innocent :)

Hi Pastor Jim:

Sharon S. here. How are you? I have been meaning to send you a note for quite some time and tell you about a pastor in California that I thought you might be interested in. Yeah, I know. If I were you I’d be rolling my eyes about now. But I must say, this guy is awesome and has challenged me personally in my life over the last year.

He has pastored [God’s Favorite] Church just outside [Utopia] for about three years and has grown it from 150 people to over 3,500. I have never seen a young guy with such a passion and a heart for God, willing to go against the “appropriate” evangelical grain and just teach the scriptures.

He just started a new series a week and a half ago. I am going to attach the first message because I would love for you to listen to him.  I can’t tell you how many people I know listen now. His name is [Gabriel, the archangel]. He has some of the best teaching I have ever heard on leadership in the church, justification, and some other tough subjects. He is a lot like [another famous pastor], who is his friend and a “fan” of his. Anyway, I have felt led to connect you with [Gabriel] for a long time. I’m not really sure why. Take it for whatever it is worth. 


“Jim” emailed this response back.

Dear Sharon,

Thanks for reminding me that my preaching stinks. It’s great to know that people in my church are making sure they get podcasts from somebody who will never know their name or answer their encouraging emails.

You’ve really made my day. I was studying for this week’s message when I got your note (I’ve already spent twenty hours on my sermon). I immediately stopped to download his magnificent sermon. It’s also wonderful to know that his church has exploded in growth; as you know, our attendance declined by 3% last year because people like you stayed home to watch guys like him on TV!

Gotta go finish my shallow sermon.

God’s blessings on you,

Pastor Jim

“Jim” didn’t really send this e-mail—he only wished he had. Have you ever felt that way when someone compared you to another?

Although we pastors often struggle when we compare ourselves to others, it really stings when those in our church compare us to others more ‘successful.’

This week I’m beginning a blog series on this issue, when church people compare their pastors to mega-successful pastors.

I hope you will join the conversation.

What’s your story? Have people in your church ever compared you to others?

Related post: The Curse of Comparison

8 Mistakes I’ve Made when Hiring Church Staff

pastor's mistakes when hiring church staffI’ve hired several pastors and admin staff in my ministry of 30 plus years and I’ve made some great choices and some not so great ones as well.

These mistakes have contributed to my poor selections.

  1. Not pursuing the yellow flags that nagged at the back of my mind.
  2. Refusing to REALLY ask other key influencers what they REALLY thought.
  3. Thinking I could fix the hire’s glaring deficiencies over time.
  4. Rushing the process.
  5. Letting my emotional attachment to the potential hire overshadow thoughtful reflection.
  6. Being too nice in the process (that doesn’t mean that I didn’t treat the potential hires with respect).
  7. Not praying enough.
  8. Not listening to my gut.

What hiring mistakes have you made?

Related post: The 360 Degree Assessment-an invaluable tool for leadership development

iPad Preaching with a Virtual Whiteboard, what I Learned

ipad apps for pastorsI posted a blog entry a couple of weeks ago (see it here) about my plan to use my iPad as a virtual whiteboard.

I used an app called Airsketch which allowed me to create a virtual whiteboard. It connects to a local wi-fi network which lets a computer become the whiteboard. Then the signal can be sent to video projectors used during services.

As I taught on spiritual warfare, I was able to underline, draw, and write words just as if I had used a white board. Here’s a picture of one of the screen shots. Everything in red I added while I taught. The icons at the bottom don’t show up on screen, but are available to you as the presenter.

I used this tool two weeks in a row. The first week I included my prompts on screen. The second week, I pared down what appeared on screen and used printed notes to the side to prompt me.

Overall, I got lots of positive comments, with one negative one. Here’s what I learned.