Pastor, you believe lies. You tell lies. You tell yourself lies. Like every human being, you are quick to recognize the lies that others are believing and telling themselves, but you are slow to recognize the lies you tell yourself.
I spent 11 years in a normal church setting as a student pastor. I currently travel the country in a para-church role (something I’ve done part-time for the past 17 years) speaking and preaching in all sorts of churches and ministries. I have met all sorts of pastors in my almost two decades of ministry. One reality I’ve seen across all of these leaders that span all sorts of ministry roles is that they are tempted to sin and seek to hide their own sin just as much as the people they lead. Yet, the reality for many pastors is they feel completely isolated as they deal with their wayward hearts.
In Lies Pastors Believe, Dayton Hartman tackles many of the unique struggles that pastors and ministry leaders face on an all too frequent basis. Hartman takes a balanced approach as he points out blind spots in both the pastoral and personal aspects of a man’s life. He takes aim at specific lies that leaders tell themselves in an attempt to allow the reader to search their own heart for any sort roots of these lies that may be growing underneath the surface.
Each of these lies has a unique “name” and identity that needs to be rooted out of the heart of the pastor. Some of these lies are:
- “The Visionary” – More concerned about building a brand than the body of Christ.
- “The Iron Chef” – This is the guy who let’s their personality, and not Christ, take center stage.
- “The Holy Man” – How people view them is more important than the true status of their heart.
- “The Anti-Family Man” – This is where shepherding the church always comes before shepherding his own family.
The lie of “The Anti-Family Man is one that hit me the hardest. I spent 11 years of my ministry life as a student pastor who was always pushing the parents of our ministry to make disciples of all their kids. Yet, amidst the barrage of meetings, sermon prep, trip prep and other ministry responsibilities – I failed to consistently pursue my own family. As Hartman clearly puts it, “Many pastors fail at being the pastor of their own family.”
Each chapter is effective in cutting away the blindness in any pastor’s heart to lay bare areas that need to be tended to, but the book doesn’t stop there. Each chapter finishes with pointed reflection questions and very practical action points, which can be used effectively with another brother who is a pastor’s accountability partner.
Dayton does an excellent job of pairing the biblical realities of being a pastor/elder with a winsome writing style that draws on his pastoral experience. Lies Pastors Believe is a merciful short book for pastors who are almost always busy and readers stay engaged thanks to plenty of wit that Hartman peppers throughout the book.
In a day and age where many pastors feel tapped out and alone, this is the ultimate heart check and encouragement for anyone involved in ministry. If you’re in ministry, you should grab this book. If you know someone who is serving in ministry, you should give them this book.
Ultimately, Lies Pastors Believe is the carefully crafted reminder that Jesus is the hero of the church, not the pastor.