One of the Most Dangerous Things Pastors Do


Are you derailing your leadership by practicing this subtle-but-dangerous ministry mistake?

The worst thing pastors can do is not be themselves!

Forgive me in advance for using language some might find offensive, but let’s face it: People have built-in crap detectors. Some have better detectors than others, but everyone has one.

The one thing these detectors sniff out faster than anything else is in-authenticity.

I think there are four major ways pastors fake it and set these detectors off:

1. We clone our preaching

I’ll admit it: I sometimes use other pastors’ sermon outlines. In fact, when I was a church planter I learned to preach by downloading Rick Warren sermon outlines. I was swamped as the only staff person in a new church, and Rick’s outlines saved me tons of time (which also saved my sanity and probably my marriage). During that season of my life,

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I learned two things about using someone else’s sermon outlines: 1) I’m not Rick Warren (although, for a time, I was guilty of trying to be), but 2) It is possible to “own” an outline I didn’t write. I learned I should never try to clone another preacher’s style, tone, rhythm or inflection because I’m not him! It took me a while, but over time, I’ve learned to leverage messages written by other pastors by filtering them through my own uniqueness and context.

2. We hide our quirks

I’m a geek and I’m proud. Yet, while I’ve always been a geek, I wasn’t always forthcoming about it. Getting bullied in junior high taught me to hide my geekhood. I’m a rabid Star Wars fan, but in the past, I didn’t reveal that to people up front.

My office used to look like most pastors’ offices. I had pictures of family and paintings of Jesus, lambs, lions and Bible verses hanging on my wall. I had tons of books people had passed down to me (too many for me to read in one lifetime).

Truth be told, I didn’t like or enjoy my office. Now I have pictures of family and tons of Star Wars memorabilia in my office—and only three bookshelves with the books I actually read. Now I love my office! People seem to enjoy it, too. They get a good laugh and learn a little bit about me.

Pastors, let’s own our quirks. They make each of us unique! Owning your quirks makes you more self-aware, more transparent, more fun and more authentic.

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Alan Danielson is the Senior Pastor of New Life Bible Church in Norman, Oklahoma. Previously he served as Central Team Leader for LifeGroups at in Edmond, OK, where he led over a thousand small groups on LifeChurch’s thirteen campuses in six different states. He then founded to help leaders master three essential leadership skills: vision-casting, creating strategy and fostering relationships. Alan is a popular conference speaker and consults regularly with ministries and leaders on topics relating to small groups and leadership. Learn more from Alan at

More from Alan Danielson or visit Alan at

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