Preachers are liars. There, I said it. Every preacher I have ever met was a liar. Furthermore, if you are a minister reading this, you are probably a liar too.
And here is the thing, we all lie about the same things. Pastors and ministry leaders are notorious for telling these three “Ok” lies.
1. The church/ministry is doing ok.
This is the lie we tell when we run into acquaintances at various church-related functions. Inevitably, the question will come.
“How’s the church?”
Despite the fact that you just had the worst Sunday of all (in a 6-month long run of terrible services) and two councilmembers just walked out, taking 14 families and 47% of your annual budget… you look your ministerial colleague in the eye and say “doing just fine” or “hanging in there.”
Sadly, we are so often afraid to admit our weakness or to appear that our constant ministerial trajectory is anything less than stellar. This fear often hinders us from receiving inspiration from the stories of struggles that have been overcome by our friends and peers. It also may hinder us from receiving the very advice that is exactly what we need to break out of our current rut.
Of course, we can not pretend this fear is not sometimes simply self-preservation. Sadly, it is not always as easy as it should be to find a true friend among the ranks of ministry. Politics and carnality have left ministers afraid that any struggles they share will simply become fuel for the gossip mill or will be used to undercut their influence by the envious.
Thus, by fear or by pride, we lie and say “It’s doing OK”
2. The church/ministry is doing ok.
No, you aren’t reading wrong, and it is not a typo. The first and second points are exactly the same. Or, at least the phrases are the same.
We use “Ok” to tell two very different lies when asked “How’s the church?”
The first way we use “Ok” is to cover up for our church’s struggles. The other time we use “Ok” is to cover up for our church’s successes. Minister, it is acceptable for your church to have some great seasons, some remarkable breakthroughs, and to have momentum on your side. Yet, how many times have you been overflowing with a sense of satisfaction and gratitude for how God had been blessing your work, but you still felt like you had to keep it to yourself.
What a sad state it is when we not only struggle to find a friend to weep with us, but we also fear asking our brothers and sisters to celebrate with us. In fact, it is often easier to find people willing to pray with you in your losses than it is to find people willing to praise with you in your wins.
The pastor or ministry leader often fears that they will be seen as prideful, or that their success will build resentment in the hearts of their colleagues (sadly, it often does). So, when asked, “Ok” is still the reply.
3. I’m doing “Ok”
How many times have you told that lie? Career pressure, spiritual drain, family issues, financial struggles, personal health, and a plethora of other issues constantly weigh on the minister. Yet, ask any of us, and you are probably going to hear that we are some version of “Ok,” and that is only if we do not use some cliché about being blessed or hide behind a comment about our business.
The past week has seen many articles, videos, and comments about ministerial stress hit the internet. A very public suicide has reminded us all just how vulnerable spiritual leaders really are. Perhaps, some conversations, peer support groups, or resources will be created in this moment that will help hurting ministers for years to come. However, in a few days, the news cycle of our circles will move on, and the hurting among us will try to move on too.
We all say we are “Ok” when we are not. It’s a vicious lie that leaves us even more isolated than before we were asked. To some degree, there will always be some thing or the other that is not great in our lives. Yet, there also times when the pressure is high, and we can feel ourselves burning out or being overcome. It’s in these moments that it becomes so important to stop telling the “Ok” lie, especially to ourselves.