David Hansen’s book The Art of Pastoring has a chapter on temptations, based on the temptations of Jesus in the wilderness. There’s some really good stuff in there.
On ambition: “There is no other possible conclusion: every pastor must choose between ladder-climbing and love. I’ve tried and tried, but I’ve never been able to mix ambition and love…I must live in constant repentance for my desire to climb ladders and in constant turning toward the God of love.”
On shortcuts: “We pimp shortcuts. Everybody wants them. People will pay good money for them. We love cheap love and hate the costly cross. By giving people shortcuts we are cheating them out of life in Christ, and it destroys us.”
On church leadership vs. management:
Most pastors think management is leadership. But the people know the difference. People don’t want to be led; they want to be managed…The strategy of management as ministry is to avoid the pitfalls of the corporate life of the church by abstracting the pitfalls and following a program to avoid them. But in the Christian life we are not meant to avoid pitfalls; we are meant to live our lives through the pitfalls as the actual stuff of life in Christ.
After many years of trying to sell programs to churches and watching others attempt the same, I am convinced that once the members of the group believe in the program, the process is over. For all intents and purposes, church members are perfectly satisfied…if they can simply come to believe that a program exists which will deliver them from their problems and usher in a new era of fulfilling the mission of the church. I don’t think that anyone really wants to follow the programs. People just want to believe in programs. This is why pastors and laypeople love going to seminars and convocations so much. They really have no serious intention of implementing anything they learn. They just want to experience learning about a new program.
Otherwise how can it be that our churches are analyzed over and over, we are presented with program after program, none of which works, and yet we want more and more programs?…We simply want to experience believing that they work, so that we can live our lives together without risking a thing, without repenting of a single sin.
This paragraph nails it:
The soul of the church is being lost to a pandering pastorate. The church needs pastors who lead the church in repentance with love. The church needs pastoral leadership that refuses to take the shortcuts and has the courage to allow the church to suffer so that the whole church can be a parable of Jesus. That is what is lost when pastors deliver shortcuts. When the pastor takes the church off the Way of the Cross, the church stops being the parable of Jesus, the body of Christ.