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25 Things Pastors Cannot Do

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


Unfortunately, some people have unrealistic expectations about what their pastors can do. In fact, they think the leader of their church can do everything all the time. They mistake their pastor to be like God by being omnipotent, omniscience and omnipresent.

Even though pastors are very busy and do a lot of things for their congregation and the community, there are many things they just cannot do. They might serve diligently Sunday after Sunday and Wednesday nights, but they are only humans and should not be expected to do everything. After all, they are not superheroes or magicians. They are humans like the people they serve

Listed below are 25 things that pastors cannot do. Most of them, they shouldn't do even if they could.

Disclaimer: Throughout the article, the word "pastor" takes on the masculine noun to avoid saying "he or she." This writer is well aware that there are also many female pastors.

1. Know Everything

Pastors might know a lot. However, they do not know everything. Parishioners should read their Bibles and not leave it up to hearing a one-hour sermon once a week. Most pastors do a lot of studying, but that does not mean that others can't study the Bible who have not been called to preach.

Everyone is commanded to "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," according to 2 Timothy 2:15.

2. Do Everything

The leader of a church might be versatile and can do many times. In fact, people might look at him and think he is the "jack of all trade" but the rest of the saying is "and master of none." Do not rely on your pastor to do for you what you can do for yourself.

It is a terrible mistake to think just because someone is a pastor, he is effective in everything he does. It is a worse mistake for the pastor himself to believe that he can do everything.

True Account
I was in a church service where the pastor stopped the musician from playing the piano. He came down from the pulpit and removed the pianist from her seat and he sat down at the piano and began playing himself. At the end of the song, he took his place at the pulpit and continued preaching.

The church is a body made up of people with different gifts. The gifts are distributed and all of them do not belong to the pastor.

3. Be Everywhere

God can be everywhere at all times because He is omnipresent. Your pastor is not. It is wrong to think your pastor can and will be with you every time you request his presence. After all, you are not the only member of the church.

4. Read Minds

Many church members hold pastors accountable for unrealistic expectations. They think the pastors should discern when some is wrong with them. The pastor can't read minds and know what is happening in your life unless you confide in him.

5. Remember Everything

Have you ever told your pastor something and he did not act upon it? Perhaps he forgot. He cannot remember everything. Don't feel bad if he asks you to refresh his memory.

Attributes of God

Attributes of God

6. Be God

Your pastor cannot be God. Even though he is in the position to be the head of the church, he cannot be God and should never try to take the place of God. Some people think highly of their pastor, and they should.

Pastors should discourage anyone who put them on God's throne. God is a jealous God and has said, "Thou shall have no other gods before me" (Deuteronomy 5:7).

7. Change Hearts

Your pastor can preach his best sermons. You can listen to them year after year, but if your heart is hardened, it will not make a difference. Your pastor cannot change your heart. Only God can do that when you are open for that to happen.

People in church

People in church

8. Please Everybody

Even Jesus could not please everybody, so do not expect your pastor to do so. He cannot please everybody with every sermon he preaches. If you pay attention to the sermon and meditate on it after the preacher gives the benediction, you will probably be pleased with what comes to mind.

9. Live A Sinless Life

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," according to Romans 3:23. That includes your pastor. He is like the rest of us. We all sin.

Pastors don't live a sinless life. They do not dot every "i" and cross ever "t" all the time. Pray for them as they hopefully pray for you.

10. Make Churches Grow

Some pastors favor large churches and they want the church they are pastoring to grow. When that doesn't happen, they are willing to leave to go to a larger church.

No matter what pastors do and no matter how many Sunday afternoon programs they have, only God can make a church grow with people and finances.

11. Be a Financial Expert

Pastors were called to preach, but they might not know how to handle their own finances and the finances of the church. Pastors are not financial experts.

This writer found it strange and disappointing that a former pastor wrote her a check that bounced not once but on two separate occasions.

12. Avoid Mistakes

Pastors make mistakes just like laypeople do. Everyone will mess up. Most of the time, it is unintentionally and unknowingly. Don't expect your pastor to be perfect because he is not.

13. Avoid Favoritism

It would be good if pastors could avoid favoritism, but they cannot. They will have favorites and friends in the church because it is natural.

Most pastors have members of the congregation who become "flavor of the month." That is a dangerous habit because someone has to be kicked to the curve to make room for a new flavor during other months.

14. Share Everything

Pastors are not required to tell the congregation everything. They can be transparent about some things, but Jesus did not reveal everything to His disciples because they were not at the point where they could receive the news.

Sometimes pastors tell things that leave members of the church and visitors baffled. Pastors should not be so willing to tell confidential information about others from the pulpit or in private conversations.

15. Ignore Sin

Pastors cannot ignore sin and continue to be a good pastor. He must address sin even though that's not a popular subject. If he recognizes someone in his congregation has a lifestyle of sin, the pastor should not ignore it. It is like that one bad apple that spoils the whole bunch.

First Corinthians 5:1-13 makes it clear what happens when sin runs rampant in a church. A man was guilty of fornication with his father's wife. He was put out of the church. After he changed his lifestyle of sin and repented, he was forgiven and reinstated into the church (Second Corinthians 2:5-11).

16. Empower You

A pastor of a church can preach, teach, and pray with others. People need to do what the Bible says to encourage themselves and live under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

The empowerment of a person must come from God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are the Trinity that does not include pastors.

17. Erase Anybody's Sins

Surely pastors can forgive someone for things they have done. However, no pastor can erase sins. Only God can do that.

God can create in people a clean heart and renew a right spirit within them (Psalm 51:10). Pastors are not equipped to do that.



18. Put People In Heaven or Hell

Pastors are God's leaders to help people lead a righteous life. It is a mistake to think they have the authority to say who is going to heaven and who is going to hell. The leader of a church should caution people and make sure they know this.

19. Make Money Come To People

Many pastors preach prosperity and give congregants false hope that money will fall into their lap. They find it easy to preach that God will give them a financial blessing no matter what.

Pastors cannot make money come to people. What they should do is to preach God's principles instead of promising something on behalf of God.

20. Preach Every Sermon With Perfection

Every sermon will not be perfect no matter who the pastor is or how long he has been one. Everyone has an off day including pastors. To think every sermon is without flaws is a misconception. No sermon can be perfect every single time.

21. Force People To Be Like Them

Pastors cannot expect people to be exactly like they are. They can preach and teach them to live righteously, but everybody has free will. Being the exact replica of one's pastor is unhealthy and not according to the word of God.

22. Monitor People

Pastors see members of their congregation only a few hours each week. Therefore they don't really know what is going on after the church doors are closed on Sundays after the worship service and on Wednesday night after Bible Study is over.

Pastors cannot and should not monitor people on a daily basis, but it would be wise to do what some country preachers do in small churches. They are with members of families throughout their rites of passages from birth to baptism to weddings.

23. Understand Everyone

The congregation is made up of various people with different personalities and attitudes. Pastors might want to, but they can’t understand everyone.

What the pastor can do is try to get to know those he serves. He does a disservice to those he preaches to if he doesn't know what their needs are.

24. Force Everybody to See Things Their Way

Pastors can be wrong and should be adult enough to admit it and make corrections. Many times they might mean to say one thing but make a mistake and say something else in their sermons.

Calling James when he means to say John is just an honest mistake that can be easily forgiven. However, when the pastor makes the same mistake Sunday after Sunday about a doctrine that can cause someone to stray, he should acknowledge it as soon as possible and make the correction.

The Holy Bible

The Holy Bible

25. Impart to Congregation What They Don't Have

People in the congregation can only go only as far as the pastor can lead them. If the pastor is deficient in his knowledge, obligations, responsibilities and obedience, the people's spiritual growth will be stunted.

No pastor can impart into or pass on to the congregation what he himself does not have.


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on March 06, 2019:

Ellison, as usual, thanks for your valid comments. Some people look at pastors as being superheroes, magicians and invincible. They are humans like the people they serve.

Ellison Hartley from Maryland, USA on March 06, 2019:

I think this article makes a really good point. I think a lot of people do have unrealistic expectations about what they can expect a pastor to do. They are human beings too, aren't perfect and can only do so much.

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