The Mercenary Pastor- hired today- gone tomorrow.

When I hear the term mercenary for some reason I can’t get Jean Claude Van Dam out of my head and hear the word Legionnaire playing over and over.  The recruiting sergeant saying, “There are only three ways you can return to France. One, fulfill your contract. Two, disability. And three, in a box!”

A mercenary in my mind is someone who, out of self interest, loans him/herself to a cause for money usually at the cost of their ethics.  They are money oriented, bribable, and greedy.  They are typically hired, paid or bought for a specific purpose and are loyal in so far as it is beneficial to them.

OR I also think of a professional soldier hired to serve in a foreign army.  They will move for the higher pay or leave when the cost seems too great or exceeds their compensation.  The grass is greener.

The Correlation to Pastoral Ministry?

what are the three significant transitions for a pastor:

  1. How pastors arrive at a church
  2. How pastors leave a church
  3. How pastors plant a church

Is our western concept of pastoral ministry more similar to the New Testament example or more in line with a mercenary mentality?

I hate thinking that this concept of mercenary may be true of pastors but Id like to see the positive—they go where they feel that God is leading.  They go with great motives: to help shepherd a community of people. To help move people closer to Jesus.  To deepen our understanding of who God is. But is it more in a mercenary fashion of leaving one church and going to the next?

Though some potentially grow up in a church- feel a call to vocational ministry-  Attend a bible college or seminary and begin leading in that church…that doesn’t feel like the norm….instead they finish that and begin the process of finding a different church to pastor.

Maybe they stay at that church a few years.  Maybe not.  Then off to another church with hirer pay, a different position, or a different location.

Or even worse, a difference of vision and direction within the church and what could be called a church plant is rooted in a disagreement and a frustration within the staff.  The church “plants” not out of health but out of disagreement.

The mercenary pastor is born.

Do you see our culture breeding mercenary pastors or pastoral leadership raised up in a church and sent?  Is there anything wrong with our cultural norm of pastoral leadership?  



7 thoughts on “The Mercenary Pastor- hired today- gone tomorrow.

  • I think it’s hard to generalize, because I’m sure there are many positive and negative examples. My former pastor left the church to plant a church. He left a high-paying pastoral position that he loved in order to follow God’s call to plant a church in a college town, and he was quite honest about how he and his family of five had been timid to take such a massive paycut. It’s hard to say his motives were impure.
    Yet, I’ve also seen many examples of the bad.

    • And not to say this isn’t true….but maybe there were factors that you may not have been privy to…..maybe.

      Or he really did feel like it was the next step…not rooted in any conflict or uneasiness or failure about where he was at….but is the way he did it the way the new testament points to?

      “Thanks guys—its been fun but I shouldn’t be here any more?” Or is it the church sending people/pastors and resources to another place in prayer and maybe even a team to go with and have continual connection as an extension of themselves?

      Thanks for the thoughts Loren!

  • These are some very challenging and well expressed thoughts, David. I think it’s true to say that we see a combination of these two: faithful leaders who are governed by the leading of God and a desire to serve, and those who are, sometimes unwittingly, moved by their feelings, hurts, or other even less noble motivations. The latter is always a sad situation and though I’ve never experienced it first hand I’ve known it to cause a lot of pain and heartache for all involved when it happens. The troubling thing is this is not always restricted to leadership. You see the same trend growing in relationships, in attitudes to marriage and friendship. It seems more and more we’re learning to value our own concerns over those of the other party, to be committed primarily for our own sake rather than that of the other. Seeking to receive/consume rather than give/serve. It’s something that needs to change, and also something that makes it all the more important to value good leadership and relationships when we see them. They’re not quite as common as they used to be.

    • man micah great point—–marriages and even friendships that have issues and cause people to move on without ever resolving the issues. Sucks.

      For me, challenging to see it in a church, and know that some one who may be leading and shepherding people is going unreconciled with other staff….or using God as a scape goat for why they had to leave…..I was called- terrible excuse.

  • Hello David,
    Hearing and obey the voice of the Lord is essential. If He calls us to move than we should obey. I think it’s important to know that it’s God calling us to move and not our own motives or feelings. Making sure that we don’t want to relocate due to going through a difficult leadership season or emotional time. Great thoughts bro!

    • Dan you are good man…amen to hearing and obedience…I would agree with your next statement of the difference between motives and feelings of insecurity and good feelings of joy and health.

      Gods call seems to be partially about feelings. Where am I going to experience the deepest joy is involved in determining Gods call….but not at the expense in my mind of feelings of joy because of an escape from something or running away from something.

      always love your thoughts man!

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