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5 Fail Safe Ways to Spot Irresponsible Religious Leaders

Updated: Oct 15, 2022


Learning how to spot irresponsible religious leaders is crucial for your church. In this article, I provide tips, as a Pastor, how you can recognize these phonies.

Irresponsible Religious Leaders are Indifferent

These are those Jesus referred to as “lukewarm so He would vomit them out of His mouth.”

I have recently become acquainted with the reality that these are the worst kind of religious leader(s).

As much as it pains me to say, several of my preacher friends, locally, fit the bill. They are who I call “God Guys” because they are not intentionally trying to hurt anyone. They love their flocks but when it comes to their brother church leaders, they hate them.

I know that is a strong word but let me ask you a question. If you see someone walking towards death and you said nothing to warn them, do you love them? Of course not!

God’s Word says:


There is no mistake and context needed! This text was written by an Apostle (Paul), to a young church leader named Timothy.

There are very few church leaders I know that will speak this kind of truth to other leaders.

Further, this text (and so many others), deals with “righteously judging others.” Specifically, these are Preachers spoken of. When we fold in Matthew chapter 7 and Romans 3, we find that righteously judging others is Godly.

The God Guys warn their flocks without fail; however, they act as if what those who are “cold” (fallen away/lost) are doing isn’t their problem.

A high-level church leader in the state convention said as much about his supposed ‘friend’ and fellow Pastors. The brother (one of the God Guys), was under attack and this Vice President of the convention said: “I know he has a problem but that is his problem and not ours!”

No calls, prayer, or anything.

Their indifference comes from a trait these several brothers share - fear and weakness. Sure, they couch it in the language of “love” and “grace” but biblically, neither is true.

I must admit that I, at times, am indifferent as well. Surely not out of fear or weakness but because I tend to wait matters on a scale of “importance.”

What is important is we all understand that each soul and situation is critical to Jesus Christ. We must treat it as such.

Irresponsible Religious Leaders Give Dumb Advice

Being a responsible religious leader means being watchful and constant prayer. Religious leadership has become more diverse, as well as more complex to manage.

Irresponsible religious leaders are the opposite.

As mentioned previously, it is not my intention to turn this platform into a full-scale Christian apologetics operation. This does not mean no biblical texts, narratives, or other will not creep in. His Word, as Jeremiah said: “is in my heart, and as a burning fire, shut up in bones.”

Nevertheless, it is given to some to absorb the revelation of God’s Word, pass it on, and in a digestible manner. When I began pastoring, more experienced church leaders whispered much advice.

Unfortunately, most of it turned out to be ineffective, philosophical non-sense. While I am sure they meant well, most of this advice, had I listened, would have damaged what God sent me to accomplish.

Putting into practice most of this ‘this is how we do it’ advice, would have clipped my wings before I ever got off the ground. There was only one bit of advice, from a REAL Pastor, which was heeded: ‘watch and pray.’

Too many of our religious leaders teach prayer as a medium to accomplish something. Prayer is much more than that. At its core, prayer is about acknowledging God’s sovereignty.

I have preached at other churches, socialized with leaders, broke bread with, observed, as well as being a member of several Baptist associations.

In all that time, I have only met a handful of leaders who have any interest in engaging in an advanced, prolonged, biblical discussion. Not debate — discussion. This is not to demean anyone. We all have varying gifts, talents, and anointings.

For instance, some of these same brethren have an AMAZING gift of spiritual discernment which I lack. Let me never appear as either arrogant or better than anyone.

God forbid!

However, always be watchful for those who offer what can only be called DUMB advice. I followed through on some of this and it was a disaster!

Bad Religious Leaders Value Education More That Holiness

With the shift towards ‘Christian education’ and the younger generations adoption of it, this deficit will be mitigated.

Christian higher education is a great thing, but it must be kept in perspective! My generation and older have allowed a religious degree and seminary participation to replace holiness.

It is as if we got a taste of something new and left everything else behind.

Our churches are in the condition they are because church hiring groups are more interested in college transcript ‘verification’ than lifestyle verification. Worse, it no longer seems to matter if a potential church leader was ‘called by God’ or ‘sent by the enemy.’

Congregations who choose these sorts ALWAYS believe God sent them! The Holy Bible addresses this (Jeremiah 5:29-31)


The ONLY thing which matters to this type of search committee is if the candidate have some fancy sounding religious title or degree.

For instance, my first church leader (post-call) had faith that I yet marvel at. He was the rare leader who I know was called by God and had religious education as well. However, he is the exception and not the rule.

Nevertheless, he still had educational knowledge deficits. When I approached him with the deeper Word of God, he would give a ‘blank stare.’ Pastor most often had no idea what I was talking about.

Some may be thinking that he simply was not interested. That could not be further from true. My dear brother, more than anything, was afraid to appear incompetent. I followed him long enough to know if such conversations could be had it surely would have been.

Yet when he began to speak to me about broad concepts of wisdom, I ALWAYS developed that same blank stare!

The point of all of this is that religious education from colleges cannot replace either “call” of gifting. Pastor possessed the gift of ‘Word wisdom’ and God gave me ‘Word knowledge.’

An irresponsible religious church Pastor may have degree, but they don’t have God’s Blessing.

Irresponsible Church Leaders Shun Accountability

Showing this kind of Holy Ghost honesty takes courage most lack. If you are a teacher of the Word and dare confront an irresponsible church leader: shunning will be the result.

Let me provide an example. I met a new Pastor, and he is the second brightest Pastor I have met over the last number of years. Sure, he has educational credentials galore, but his knowledge comes from gifting as opposed to any degree program.

When I compared this brother (full of knowledge), to my former pastor (full of wisdom), it becomes evident that God gifts us in diverse ways. However, His word both are: “for edification of the body of Christ.”

I spoke something publicly while instructing a group of people and the ‘knowledge’ Pastor happened to hear. He called me and was ‘salty’ that I had the nerve to, as he put it: “take cheap shots at other preachers.”

I explained that if what I said was a cheap shot, then Paul also took a ‘cheap shot’ at Peter, during the Antioch confrontation.

I further indicated that at least eight of Paul’s epistles would not exist without his public rebuke of someone or church. This religious leader is brilliant, at least Master degreed, multiple decade pastoring, and he could not grasp something so evident.

If our leaders cannot even grasp this, what hope do those we lead have?

He has since disappeared from my circle because he hates for anyone to hold him accountable. In his purview: “how dare a Pastor from a small church say anything to him.”

Bad Leaders Treat God’s People Like Idiots

Another area of challenge is irresponsible leaders who treat God’s sheep as ‘perpetual idiots.’

Many church leaders believes it is their job to mold God’s sheep into their version of a disciple.

Let me be clear: we are charged with being molders of God sheep, but not be, as scripture “lording over God’s heritage.” Perhaps this can make clear what my limited writing ability is failing to.

There comes a point where a baby has their feeding bib removed, is taken out of their highchair, and placed at the table proper. Before this graduation ceremony, they had feed them spoonful by spoonful, given drink, and cleaned up after.

Once at the table proper, the child is now old enough to perform basic (if messy) feeding tasks. As time passes, their kinetic skills develop enough where the personal feeding is less messy as well.

Your church leader has the responsibility to, in the beginning anyway, cut the spiritual food up, spoon feed, and clean up after each spiritual meal.

Nevertheless, there comes a time when all they should do is put the spiritual plate in front of you, and you take it from there.

It may surprise many to know that if you grow too much, wayward leaders lose what they most value — control.

Yes, ‘control’ is the objective, and they are threatened by your growth. I have personally witnessed this obfuscation, listened to conversations, and was shocked. I thought the objective was to develop “maturity in the faith”?

This ungodly control, and oft robbing the sheep of free will, is couched in the religious vernacular of ‘leading sheep’

It gets much worse.


The less educated a ‘wayward’ church leader is, the less ‘educated’ they want you. Let me be clear — ‘educated’ has nothing to do with whether one possess a college degree.

Education, in this sense, is whether we are listening to, and learning from the Holy Spirit.

Those God truly sent are not going to discourage your growth and disparage when maturity is achieved.

Such religious leaders want you to become God’s best version of you. Church leaders: we must be better than this!

We preach the text saying “thou shalt not muzzle the oxen which treaded out the corn.” Are we doing the same thing? I know some of my fellow leaders are furious that one of US has stepped out from among your ‘back office’ culture.

Here is what should comfort your wicked heart, however. Most of those who follow you, fund you, and show up week after week to have their intelligence insulted, will NEVER read this.

Will you share this post with them?

I will end with this: “you can get angry, but you really need to get right with God.”

Image Courtesy of Victor Uzihben @ Pixabay

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