Dr. Jay Adams: Pastors and Problem People

For those who know of him, Dr. Jay Adams is blogging. He’s known for popularizing Biblical Counseling. I believe that he started the modern movement. Now at 80 years old, his ability to travel is more limited and he’s been using a blog as a ministry tool. I find many of his articles interesting. I once started a Biblical Counseling program, but didn’t get very far. The school wasn’t accredited, and by the time I figured out what that meant and why it was a problem, I came to realize that the world would be a happier place if I remained involved in lay ministry and kept my professional expertise in IT or engineering. I dropped out of that program and enrolled at the University of Phoenix for my IT degree.

I still maintain a lot of enthusiasm for Biblical Counseling, and I was happy to see Dr. Adams start blogging last year. I read a few of his books during my studies, and I do own a copy of the Christian Counselor’s Manual.

In a post today, Dr. Adams explores the issues surrounding pastors and problem people. To be honest, that was another factor in my decision to stop pursuing ministry. I realized I would have to deal with self-appointed prophets who see everybody else as doctrinally incorrect and make it a point to be sure you know it. I would also have to deal with people who behave like a dog returning to it’s vomit; people who, no matter what good advice they are given, continue to pursue destructive paths. Although those wasn’t my only reasons, they did make the list. I’m not sure I could handle those with the dignity and grace I have seen other ministers handle such people with. It’s all I can do not to hit people who are broke or miserable in their jobs and yet won’t read a single book on personal finance or self-improvement. I know both markets are flooded with crap, but there are many very good and helpful books out there. I was trying to encourage one person I know in deep financial problems to read Dave Ramsey’s book. I was told that this person doesn’t have time. There is no way I would have the patience to deal with that professionally if I were a minister.

When I read “The Four Hour Work Week”, I read once again about the so called “Pareto Principle”, or the 80/20 rule. The rule as applied to productivity states that you spend 80 percent of your time on 20 percent of your action items. The trick is to work on the right 20 percent. It struck me as odd that ministry is sort of an inverse of that rule, especially when dealing with people. Ministers could be said to spend 80 percent of their time on 20 percent of the people, and in this case, it’s the neediest people. My wife and I went through a small soul-searching period in regards to our church. Because of a long-running aftermath of a very hurtful incident in our church, we started to feel like we were being left out of a lot of things because all of the attention went to the people and activities involved in healing, when it didn’t seem like anybody was healing, they were just basking in the attention. We felt like the church was focusing only on the neediest people, and after a while it gets annoying. I should not go any further. We are dealing with human beings and human nature here. Let’s just say that a realization was made that the church needs to stop running in reactive mode and a switch to a more proactive mode was made. We now feel much more involved. I’ve said before that the biggest problem with the church is that it let me in, and it lets in a lot of other people like me. Where people are involved, even the redeemed, there are problems, misunderstandings, and unmet needs. But as a follow up to my “Are You Ready to Quit Church” post, we are still involved with our church family.

I’ve always been curious if any pastors have read Tim Ferriss’ “The Four Hour Work Week”. What was your impression of his explanation of the 80/20 rule? Did you read that and think “Yeah, right, like that’s possible in my line of work”? Or is there a way that a pastor can effectively manage his time while still meeting the needs of his flock? I know a couple of pastors read my blog from time to time, and I’m interested in your perspective on this.

Books Mentioned in this post:

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