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Falsehood belongs to the attackers of the faith, not its citizens nor its defenders.

“Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:9).

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Proverbs 12:22).

Lying is almost unforgivable in a pastor.

1. Do not lie to us about your resume.

If you say you went to school there or pastored that church, we want to believe you. If you earned a degree, say what it was. If the degree was honorary, but not earned, say that also.

What you must not do is give the impression you attended a school which you did not or served a church which you did not serve or possess a degree you don’t.

Why would anyone lie about their resume? Obviously, to enhance their prospects for a job.

But any position acquired as a result of a falsehood is worthless in the long run.

Regularly, we hear of high-profile executives, educators and coaches being caught for padding their resumes, for claiming degrees they did not have, for professing honors they did not earn. Perhaps the most shameful is the man who claims to have been a war hero, who wears the uniform and sports the medals, but who, it turns out, is a consummate liar.

Tell us the truth, pastor.

2. Do not lie to us about your testimony.

I heard a certain pastor’s testimony on more than one occasion. It was so moving that when he went to Heaven, I paid tribute to him on these pages by telling his story. 

Sometime later, his brother found the eulogy by googling his name, and called me. “You know there’s not a word of truth to it, don’t you?”

Joe McKeever After five years as Director of Missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner where he's working on three books, and he's trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way. He loves to do revivals, prayer conferences, deacon training, leadership banquets, and such. Usually, he's working on some cartooning project for the denomination or some agency.

More from Joe McKeever or visit Joe at http://www.joemckeever.com/mt/

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  • David Eyoma

    Pastors should note that there is a remarkable difference between Character and reputation. Character is what you really are and yet reputation is what you work out and make other people believe you are. Forged reputation will finally catch up with you. Remember all that is done in the dark will be told in broad day light. you cannot suppress the truth under the deep sea for one day it will float on the surface and you yourself will be witness to it. Lets be what we are.

    David Eyoma

    • Tom Burris

      Thanks for the re-iteration, Joe. Now retired from the pastorate,I serve as an interim (fifth church now), and must critically evaluate resumes. It is amazing how many times they are well, “padded”. I think the pressure to be “the best” and some desire to impress others is a seed that is planted in all of us. How many times do we, as pastors, stretch the truth about ourselves when it shows us in a glowing light? Name-dropping, associations with large ministries, however marginal, come front and center. What a contrast with the Apostle Paul who spoke of personal beatings and shipwrecks and imprisonments and loneliness as the marks of his ministry.

  • Emmanuel Daikwo

    Its true Most pastors lie about their testimonies and even expect their members to respect and worship them by force. When a member is taught the real tenent of christianity, you dont need to tell him of his resposibility towards you

    • Michael Henderson

      I would be careful in saying “Most pastors.” You are running the risk in teaching others to doubt anything a Pastor says. Only use the word “Most” if you have the facts.
      God Bless

  • Samuel R. Mackey

    One would not expect pastors tp tell lies, but, as a matter of fact the last person one should look at a liar is a pastor, because he know that God hear every word he says. He above all others know of the wisdom of God and should be careful to be truthful.

  • Richard F

    Those lies are of course horrendous, but there are many other more subtle ones too,

    1. This program is going well = it isn’t, but we are trying to make it so
    2. The church needs more of your money = we have not made appropriate reviews and savings where we could
    3. The church staff are rushed off their feet = they are not prioritising between important jobs and the popular jobs they want to do

    4. The church needs more staff = the existing staff are reluctant to work as hard as those in secular jobs
    5. The pastor spends many hours on his sermon = it is in the back of his mind as a concern for much of the time
    6. The pastor spends many hours counselling people = he has coffee with them, listening to their woes (but this is not counselling)
    7. The pastor needs to spend many hours counselling people = he needs to raise up homegroup leaders, a counselling team, or suitable elders to share this job (the pastor is not our mediator to Jesus)

    • Reginald

      I disagree with you Richard on number 6. A huge part of counseling is listening; both to the individual that is attempting to open themselves up to the man of God, without divulging the whole truth, and to the Holy Spirit that is revealing the trouble areas and the omitted truths to the man of God. Listening, along with prayer, are actually the initial parts of counseling.

      Simply giving advice without taking the time to see what’s going on inside a person’s heart, mind, their present or their past is what we call supposition; which is not a Holy Spirit anointed ministry.

  • Tiffany Pierce

    I love this article!

  • Anonymous Person

    Dear Pastors,
    Great Christians have written sermons for centuries. There’s no need for you to reinvent the wheel and try to dig up something unique. If you’re spending more than a day doing sermon prep, maybe you’re spending too much time. I don’t remember even one sermon preached at my old church. But I am moved deeply every week by the friendliness of the pastor at my new church. We aren’t just a number to him.

    • Richard F

      Anon

      1. I do in part agree with you that too many pastors spend hours/days only to produce something much weaker than others of old, and that their excuse of ‘needing to make it relevant’ can be overdone
      2. But I still think that preaching should be the pastor’s primary function; indeed it is the way he can best pastor. After all, we are transformed by the renewing of our mind, not by a warm smile at the door. Churches based on smiles are fun and cosy but can become Laodicean over time

    • i12know

      I wish I could do what you said. But I read the story of prophet Micah yesterday in 1 King 22 and it seems that if I do not spend the time to hear from God, but rather just repeat the words of other prophets, I will be held accountable before God…

  • Larry C.

    I knew a well-known evangelist whose books were copied almost word for word from other authors. I knew this because I had read most of the books listed in his bibliography. Give credit where credit is due.

  • Larry Pearson

    Right on again, Joe! Thanks for the article.

  • CB

    More pastor beating. Oh, goody. I was thinking there was a day I’d go without one.

    • Epichette

      Pastor beating? This article speaks to the integrity to which all believers should hold to, not pastors alone. Pastors, (self included), ought to demonstrate and if anything hold to a higher standard of integrity as an example to the body. This author is not bashing pastors but calling them to their healthy and responsible function in the Body. Are there pastors who do what the article describes? Of course! Do MOST pastors hold these habits? I hope I can accurately so no. Still, let’s not get upset about holding high standards. Pastors should never be without accountability, that is a set up for disaster and much hurt.

      • Joe McKeever

        Thank you, Epichette.

  • Ramona

    Follow me as I follow Christ. People need to take their eyes off man and look to Christ because we all fall short of God’s glory even Pastors. That’s why we need to learn the word for ourselves and we will understand just how filthy as rags we all are. There is not one perfect except Christ. We should all hold ourselves to higher standards than we could keep our own flaws in check rather than point out the flaws of others. If Pastors were without err there would be no pastors.

  • Rod

    Great words of wisdom.

  • Rachel Stocker Allen

    I love this article, it really hits home – another thing I would add is If you didn’t write the sermon you just preached, make sure you don’t try to give the impression that you did… I’ve seen this alot and it breaks my heart. At one point, a few young people came to me after a particularly anointed and powerful message and showed me the speaker’s sermon on a well known evangelist’s website and asked me WHY? It was so disheartening for me and disillusioning for them… I think we have all been guilty of this kind of stuff at one point, and we are all definitely tempted, but lies are things that catch up to us… ALWAYS. On the flip side, another thing that scares me, is “judge not lest you be judged” and “you will be judged with the same measure in which you have judged”… when we catch someone in a lie or take it upon ourselves to expose the lies of others, I think it’s important to know that any lies that may be hidden in our own past, if not dealt with and repented of and made right, will most surely “find us out”, aka, come out in a similar fashion. I’m not saying that lies don’t need to be exposed, only that we need to make sure that the plank in our own eye is dealt with first, and even then, to prayerfully consider how to handle it, how to react and deal with the offender, and how to win them back into fellowship.

    • cyntha parker

      Praise the Lord!
      I love what you posted Sister Rachel and I want to just say, real men of God speak the things of GOD. They don’t get their information from a book or other men’s sermon’s, unless they are making a quote from him. I thank God for the men of God in our organization who are being led by the Holy Ghost to speak to the people of God. Our lives are at stake and the men of God also have to give account to God for us and save themselves.
      I also thank God for the judging expressions you made. I want it to be known that you should not put your mouth on the man of God, even if you see something. One, you should only testify against him with two or three witnesses. YOu should also do it with the fear of God and remember yourself, as to want the man of God to come to repentence. After that, the saints should be ready to forgive him. The love of God says so. Lest ye be tempted also. Amen.

  • Thomas C Dietz

    Lord, I pray that I honor You with everything I do or say or think. Thank you, God, for reminding me that I preach to myself, and allow others to listen. Your kingdom come into my area of influence today, and may I live in grace and truth. I’m reading “gods at war” now and find so many ways that I unintentionally tell God to share His throne with a liitle bit of this and that. Satan is THRILLED to sabotage our power and authority by using our godly intentions. I am given a gift of grace and truth through Jesus (John 1:17) and it is only usefull if I accept the gift as it is, and don’t try to remodel or change it to fit my “needs” His grace uses me in my insignifigance and brokeness for His glory and for my blessing. And His truth is exactly what it is. It doesn’t need my help to make it look or sound better on a resume, or to other people.

  • Samuel T Lartey

    Thank you for this article. Simply , it’s highlights our morality as ministers

  • ffinder

    When pastors lie i seriously doubt they have the Spirit of God inside them.
    Probably they are backsliders.

    But subtle lies and exaggerations are what some pastors use
    thinking they are saying the truth and that they have no problem with God at all.

    They are deceived.

    I know a certain denomination, the pastors never delete members that
    left their church therefore giving big membership numbers to the central church authority, while the actual church attendance is significantly lower,
    around 1/10th.

    They are deceived.

    God counts subtle lies and exaggerations as OUTRIGHT LIES.

    ff

  • Michael Henderson

    I think this article is too the point and in too many cases true. All I would say is be careful how you speak about those called of God to minister. Make sure your words do not lump all Pastor’s into the same bucket as the hirelings. I too think that Pastor’s should be held to the highest degree of scrutiny as they are handling God’s word. They are to be leaders that the flock can emulate. But be careful to remember we are all saved by faith and God’s Grace. Do not throw stones if there is the possibility of them bouncing back at you. In the end we are all human, each at a different level of spiritual maturity.

    Yes there will be some things that one may notice or disagree with. If so follow Matt. 18 and confront the Pastor privately. If he is in the wrong and admits to it, you have one him as a friend, brother, and even a confidante. If he does not then pray about next steps. But also be aware that there needs to be two or three witnesses to the unscrupulous issue.

    Pastors are fallible and sometimes we too can stumble. If you run in Pastoral circles you will find that most are very private and many have no one to confide in. Maybe as a result of the article God will lead you to become closer to your pastor and in the end give him a shoulder to lean on.

    God Bless

    • Beloved

      Amen. Well said not being judgemental.

  • Marshall

    Excellent article. In my position in church leadership, I have, unfortunately, witnessed almost all of those instances of lies/sin from those in the pastorate. I suppose everyone wants to feel/be successful, but as you say to lie about attendance when it is easily verifiable still dumb founds me. These lies eventually will catch up to those men and they often lose their ministry. When you lie, you lose credibility,when you lose the congregations trust you are through.
    Thanks for the well thought out essay.

  • Cobus

    I read this with great interest. Reason, I am serving on a church’s leadership team. I agree that it is a good article but need to point out the following. Many articles is pointing to the mistakes of pastors but the church by itself many times tells lies when they call pastors. As a church leader I need to point it out that many pastors receive incorrect CV’s from churches. Churches or call teams or elders in some instances, do not give out the correct CV for the church. They lied about numbers, the state of the church(division, disunity, power brokers, gate keepers etc.) Then when the pastor arrived it is not long that he or she realised they got a complete wrong CV from what the church is all about. My prayer is that we honestly think broader and not only pointing out the lies of pastors but also the lies of church leadership teams representing the church.

  • Tim Herron

    For every one Pastor that lies there is a hundred others that sacrifice give over work go way beyond the call of duty walk in integrity serve God Community and Church.

    • Deb

      I think that’s an exaggeration. We will likely never know how many are honest or not. But I’ve seen enough dishonesty in the pulpit to know this problem isn’t rare.

      • heanre

        i completely agree

  • Namwinga A. Chibuye

    Thank you for sharing. It’s my prayer that I will always be attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. That I will not be too proud to receive counsel.

  • Audrey O

    Amazing. Thank you for these sobering words. I joined in prayer, may we be people of truth who reflect the Truth!

  • Rev. Rai

    Thank you for these ruthless words of admonishing. God bless you. I am a senior pastor of a church for last 11 yrs. Yesterday was my 11th year completed.

    • Joe McKeever

      I hope the words were not ruthless. Did not mean them to be harsh.

  • ben

    Just one thing bothered me about this story: The thieving preacher that was getting paid double for his trips. Wasn’t sending him “quietly” on his way also a form of being part of another lie? (I saw a worship leader “quietly dismissed” once and it became one of the contributing factors in a well meaning pastor eventually being fired. In my on opinion if it had not have been handled covertly, it would have made a lot fewer people to distrust our Sr. Pastor.)

    • Joe McKeever

      Note that I did not say he went to pastor somewhere else. They terminated him. He went to work for a fundraising company. You may have read into my use of the term more than I meant.

  • Cobus

    The way I see it, we are all broken people. We all made mistakes, pastors do make mistakes, leadership teams make mistakes and church members make mistakes. Not all mistakes are sin. Then there is sin that needs to be confronted. We all do ARMITHEAS (the greek word for sin meaning missing the mark). That is why 1 John 1:9 is in the Bible, it is for Christians missing the mark. It is not a licence to sin. Jesus Christ is TRUTH and also GRACE. He do not balance GRACE and TRUTH. He is GRACE and He is truth. In church we do not get this right, some are full of truth without grace and then others are full of grace without truth. That is one of the reason some like to nail the sin of pastors and forget the church is full of sinners. In fact we are sinners saved by grace. I honestly believe that it is a small group of pastors doing the sins listed. We need to be careful not to fall in a trap thinking pastors in the broader sense are doing wrong. God call humans, sinners saved by grace, to do His work. I served under few pastors in my life, they do have mistakes, they all made wrong decicions but honestly, the were great GODLY men and I admired them dearly. Some gave up careers, houses and lands, to walk they way with me. I am greatful for them and I am greatful that the Lord grant me to walk under great pastors.

  • Daniel Medina

    I am so much blessed with the contents of the messages particularly on the “Do YOu Remember Why You Became A Pastor? and others.” I even printed a copy to be distributed to other Pastors.
    We need more Sermon Outlines and Illustrations.

    Thanks you very much and more blessings.
    – Pastor Daniel Francisco Medina
    Minister, Church of Christ
    Colorado, San Guillermo, Isabela
    For more info: Search Colorado Church of Christ San Guillermo Isabela Philippines

    • Daniel Medina

      Thank you very much and more blessings.

  • Cathcartboy

    Joe, Your experience is considerable. It is disappointing that of all the hard-working, conscientious pastors I know, you appear to have come across none but the unscrupulous figure highly. You are right that such have no place in ministry. For myself, i wonder what company you keep.

  • junot

    THANKS for your teachings. I’ve already met a pastor whose integrity is not so great, especially about finance.And I’m sick of it.

  • Pastor V.

    Wow – These simple truths are a constant reminder that we as Pastors are to do what is right, as well as, preach what is right. Thanks for reminding us that there is a “Plum Line” that keeps us true!