10 mistakes that even smart clergy make

Here are ten mistakes that even smart clergy make. I’ve made all but two myself, several more than once.

  1. Feeling like the future of the congregation is all on their shoulders. I’ve been there. It’s exhausting, and it won’t get you where you want to go.
  2. Complaining about church members to staff, other church members or their spouse. Sure, we all vent occasionally. But remember, you are creating anxiety-driven triangles which won’t help you discern how to approach the problem.
  3. Offering to reduce their salary to balance the church budget. I know some churches are facing big challenges in keeping up with salaries, let alone including even cost-of-living increases. Changes may realistically need to happen. However, when a pastor volunteers to take a pay cut, that’s overfunctioning. (I never did this, but I did volunteer to give up most of my continuing ed. money one year. Big mistake.)
  4. Not taking a day off. If you have more than a week without a day off, reconsider your commitments.
  5. Spending as much time talking to people as they want to talk to you. Some people will take up all your time if you let them. They are not usually the most mature. It’s better for them (not to mention you) to set limits.
  6. Allowing staff to get away with bad behavior. I don’t know about you, but I learned nothing about supervision in seminary, and I can be congenitally nice. If that’s you, remember: It’s not helpful to put up with staff who refuse to do their job (actively or passively), lose their temper with members or other staff, or can’t learn what they need to do their work. 
  7. Avoiding difficult conversations. Sometimes you simply have to say, “You can’t act like that here.” With certain people, you need allies to say this with you. We have to overcome our niceness to be the leaders we need to be. 
  8. Thinking that rational persuasion will convince people of something they don’t want to be convinced of. My advice: don’t try to talk people into or out of anything.
  9. Thinking they don’t have time for any outside interests. (I always managed to at least keep reading fiction if nothing else. And I still do.)
  10. Saying yes to everything. (See #4, above.)



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