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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

Alan Danielson

Alan Danielson is the Lead Pastor of a church that’s probably a lot like yours. New Life Bible Church is a church of a few hundred people, but not long ago he was on the executive staff of Life.Church in Edmond, OK. Now, along with pastoring New Life, Alan is a consultant and has worked with many of America’s largest churches. Despite this, Alan has a passion for the small church. That’s why he lives by the personal conviction that no church is too small for him to work with. Alan founded Triple-Threat Solutions to help leaders of and churches of all sizes grow. Learn more from Alan at

Alan on ChurchLeaders   Alan's Website

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