An Open Letter To My Fellow Pastors

Jan 14, 2007

I am sitting in my study at home right now, preparing for bed. I have several things to do—but before I go to bed I wanted to share a thought I had with my fellow pastors…in the hopes that someone will be encouraged and challenged.

WARNING: The following will be blunt and honest…and extremely transparent.

Pastors…sometimes I know it feels like you just can’t win!!!

For example—here is a copy of an e-mail sent to me last week…

I’ve taken a moment away from my beer and cigars to apologize for not having continued the conversation. Personal reasons have not allowed me the thoughtful time I DO want to give to a response to you. However, your latest post and your responses to people at Out of Ur suggest that although you have many wonderful strengths, you lack humility. Why can I identify it - because I struggle with the same issue.

A little humility would go a long way in proving the validity of your argument. The lack thereof is going to bite you in a place where it will make it painful for you to sit down.

You’ve bought the lie that because you’ve grown a megachurch, might makes right.

Now…this guy doesn’t know me. We have e-mailed one another several times and are currently in a dialogue with each other, trying to understand the others point of view. But my post on being fired up set him off I guess…and so he responded to me in this manner.

(And for the record—here is the post he was referring to…and also my responses to the Out of Ur blog were passionate and real…for some reason it is ok for people to launch attacks against me and the church I serve—but when I speak back it’s wrong.  SORRY…I do not play that game…God has called me to shepherd this flock and when the wolves arrive…I FIGHT!  I will not run…not from anyone.  NewSpring, God has called me here to serve you…and in doing so I will not take any flap!)

As I was trying to weigh out what he wrote…and seeking the Lord as to whether or not there was any truth in this matter…my friend Mark Waltz posted this about me in his compiling a list of the most influential people in his life…I was #22! :-)
22. Perry Noble

  • Your “raw”, “here it is, take it or leave it” approach redefines authenticity. I want to always be honest.
  • Your humble, teachable spirit shocks me. It’s a pretty rare combo with my first observation.
  • I thank God for the privilege of being around you enough to see both characteristics.

(Thanks Mark…that post was an answer to prayer…and it meant more than you know!)

And let me say this before I move on…the difference here is that Mark knows me…the other person who e-mailed me does not…and that does make a difference.

Isn’t that crazy—in the same week I get told that I am not humble…and then I get told that I am admired for my humility!!! AHHHH!

Pastors—EVERYONE has an opinion as to who you are! There are people out there who will take a blog post OR one sentence from a sermon OR something that they heard that you said and proceed to make a call on your character, saying things about you that are not true.

AND…at times the people who do so seem to be the loudest people in the crowd!

AND…please get this, when you do not listen to those who are the loudest you will labeled “cocky” and “arrogant” and “one who lacks humility.”

AND…if you are a pastor with a vision & have the passion to back up that vision…YOU WILL get called these things because most people are used to dealing with a pastor who, in reality, should be wearing a dress because he checked his manhood at the alter when he “surrendered to the ministry!”

My advice to pastors is this—YOU CAN NOT LISTEN TO EVERYONE!!! Nor should you try! You can’t—different people have different opinions…and you will go crazy if you try!!!

BUT you should listen to someone!!! You are NOT called to go at this alone. AND…I can honestly say that the reason that NewSpring is where it is today is because I do not always get my way. If you are a pastor you should surround yourself with people who have the following characteristics…and in this order…

  • #1 - Someone Who Loves Jesus
  • #2 - Someone Who Loves The Church
  • #3 - Someone Who Loves You

And when you find someone like this—LISTEN TO THEM!!!

Now this doesn’t work if they love Jesus and love the church but do not love you—because people like this usually try to “run the pastor off.”

And it doesn’t work if they love the church and love you—but leave Jesus out of the mix! Because the advice they give you will be, most of the time, self seeking.

AND…it doesn’t work if they love Jesus and you but not the church…because if they do this then they will put your needs before the needs of the church…and BAD decisions will be made.

Nope…they MUST have all three characteristics!!! AND, like I said, WHEN you find someone like this—LISTEN to them!!!

Now this begs the question, “Perry, do you listen to people who do not have these characteristics?” My answer—VERY RARELY!!! You see, we get tons of e-mails here…and there is a pretty wide spread opinion about me in “blog world.” And…if I tried to listen to everyone who says something about me and follow what everyone thinks…to be honest, I would not be able to stay in the ministry!!!!

I made a decision a long time ago to play for an audience of one…to be true to my calling…to surround myself with godly men and women who will speak the truth in love…and as for the rest…they can scream, they can shout, they can blog—but they will not cause me to alter who I am or who God has called me to be…and I could care less who that offends.

I write this because as I went through what I went through this week I feel like there are pastors out there that are struggling with the desire to be liked…and usually that means caving into the loudest! Don’t do it!!! Stay true to your calling…be who God called you to be…lead in the way He has called you to lead…and don’t give in to e-mailers and bloggers who have nothing better to do with their time than to launch verbal assaults at you when they don’t even know you!

Should you cut the world out and “do it on your own?” NO!!! We need one another—just make sure that the people you surround yourself with have the freedom to speak into your life and tell you the truth…and HOLD ON…BE TRUE TO THE ONE WHO HAS BEEN TRUE TO YOU! I know that attacks hurt—but when you see lives changed…it just makes it all worth it!!!