Needy pastors

Behind authoritarian leadership
"You know, Mom, the trouble with our new pastor is that he needs us to love him so much that we can’t see God anymore.” This was the assessment of a 13-year-old boy talking with his mother about the struggles they were having at their church. A new pastor had arrived, and in a rather short time he had torn apart the fabric of Christian community that had been nurtured in that congregation over several decades.

Most of the adults had identified the problem as something else: an authoritarian leadership style, too many changes in worship practices, an inability to listen, an unwillingness to understand the congregation’s distinctive history. But once this young teenager described the issue in terms of the pastor’s neediness, the other descriptions faded into the background.


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