Here are five warning signs that a pastor might be too controlling.
Whenever a pastor begins to “do it all,” and refuses to delegate anything, then that pastor is far too controlling. Our church has a deacon, a deaconess, and an elder, so it would be a shame to not utilize these men and women’s gifts and ministry to the church. The church is composed of many members, and Jesus is the Head of the Church; not man (including the pastor), but all members must be allowed to minster in their particular place in the body. One man can’t do that!
I talked with a young couple who were afraid to bring up a serious sin issue in the church. There was an unmarried couple living together who also had children who attended. The young deacon thought this shouldn’t be allowed as living in sexual immorality is something that the New Testament church never allowed. The Bible strictly forbids any kind of sexual immorality, but every time the deacon approached the pastor about this he told him, “It’s none of your business. I’ll take care of it,” so obviously the pastor already knew. Later on, the pastor even baptized them in the church and they were still not married. If a pastor is so unapproachable and open to constructive concerns or criticisms, then he’s got too much control in my opinion. As you can imagine, the couple ended up leaving the church.
Building His Own Kingdom
This is a real danger for pastors. When a ministry begins to flourish and becomes broader in scope, there is a danger that the pastor starts building his own kingdom instead of the kingdom of God. What happens is that slowly, over time, and almost unnoticed, the pastor becomes the center of attention and Jesus is replaced on the altar by the man. One thing’s for sure; this kingdom will not last because it is of man. It might flourish for a time, but so does a flower, and then it’s gone.
He is Always Right
No one is always right… at least I can be right about that! Otherwise, even I, as a pastor, can be wrong. I must admit that, and I have a few times from behind the pulpit when I either gave a wrong interpretation of it or I gave the wrong chapter and verse. For one thing, it’s not for me to interpret the Bible; my job is to preach it and teach it. It’s not based upon what I think; it’s based on what God says. If your pastor never admits mistakes or doesn’t accept an obvious mistake, then he might be too controlling.
Overrules the Board
Having a “loose cannon” for a pastor is a warning sign of a pastor that is too controlling. That’s why I don’t even want to have the church checkbook in my possession. Our deacon has that and it requires two signatures, and I’m not one of them! I want it that way, but if you see a pastor start breaking some of the rules of the church, you might have a controlling pastor. Rein him in before it’s too late. At our church, I am accountable to the church and I like that. That’s a great way to make sure I stay above reproach in my pastoral duties.
Pastors that never delegate, never allow input, refuse any correction, are building their own kingdom and not God’s, say they are never wrong, and does what he wants, regardless of what church policies and bylaws say, is most certainly a controlling pastor. No church will survive long under such leadership.