The Real Lives of Real Pastors

A recent CNN headline proclaims:

This televangelist is asking his followers to buy him a $54 million private jet

The televangelist in question is Jesse Duplantis, leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries out of Louisiana. He apparently owns three other jets as well. (It’s hard to get by with just one, after all.)

In response, my friend Drew McIntyre hit the nail on the head on Twitter:

News stories like the one referenced above are neither uncommon nor surprising. That doesn’t make them any less tragic, however. Among the more tragic elements of these stories is that they overshadow the work of millions of very faithful pastors around the word.

Over the years I have worked with hundreds, maybe thousands, of pastors. Based on my experience, here are some headlines that CNN or any other news outlet could publish every day if they wanted to portray accurately the lives of the vast majority of pastors:

Pastor holds hand of dying woman as she passes into eternity

Pastor comforts bereaved family after the suicide of their son

Pastor up until 2:00 a.m. on the phone with parishioner in crisis

Pastor preaches only positive message the teens in the congregation will hear all week

Pastor works 50 hour week at secular job while overseeing two country churches

Pastor consistently visits man in hospital whose family has never checked up on him

Pastor tithes income from church back to church

Pastor teaches children to live for others, and not simply themselves

Pastor speaks to congregation about difficult issues of racial justice (or school shootings, or acts of terrorism, or…)

Pastor walks alongside young man through journey out of addiction

Pastor spends Saturday morning working with homeless

Pastor helps to raise money to provide relief for people in Haiti

Pastor leads mission to dig wells in Africa

And, most importantly,

Pastor leads people into saving relationship with Jesus Christ

Do you want to know what the life of most pastors is like? It is a life of love and sacrifice. It is a life lived in service to God and others.


I have no illusions that media coverage of the church will change. I know that flamboyant peddlers of false gospels will always make headlines and thereby undermine the work of those truly committed to the message of Jesus Christ.

And even still, women and men will give their lives to God in Christian service through pastoral ministry. The ministry of Jesus Christ will continue among people who will never appear in a CNN headline, and who don’t want to. Dedicated pastors will continue to seek and save the lost.

In the next few months, there will probably be another headline about a flamboyant preacher who has done something ridiculous. And then a few months after that, more of the same. Don’t lose heart. That is the nature of the broken world in which we live. When these things happen, use your social media platform to lift up the good work of faithful pastors around the world. People will pay attention, and in the process you will testify to the life-transforming power of Jesus Christ.

If you have any headlines you’d like to add to the list I’ve created, please do so below. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

16 thoughts on “The Real Lives of Real Pastors

  1. If you think about it, we can be glad that events like this “pastoral” airplane make the news. Our news media cover things that are out-of-the-ordinary. If such were commonplace, we’d never hear about it. (e.g., when’s the last time you heard about a murder in Chicago? They happen, on average, more than once each day.)

    • You are really in the dark concerning a world wide ministry of hope and prosperity and the war on poverty. I really don’t understand the disparity between Bishops, District Supt’s and small Church pastors. Jesse and Kenneth and Creflo have some books out there that bring in funds too. None of your business about their Airplanes. Report on small church pastors who retire on $ 700 a month as compared to Bishops and High dollar positions in the Church @ $7,000. I wish I had bought into the Word of Faith when I was younger.

      • If Dollar, Duplantis and Copeland can afford airplanes, why can’t they afford to build hospitals, orphanages and homeless shelters?

      • You are probably correct that it makes no sense written hurriedly in defense of ministries that use very expensive equipment to do world wide ministry. I use Franklin Graham’s ministry with Samaritans Purse as an example. He has several plane and many trucks to minister to World needs. I don’t know what plans Jesse Duplantis has for his but I do know that many of these ministries do a lot of good at far less overhead than Denominations. We support some of these including Samaritans Purse and 700 Club and others.

      • All Bishops and Ds’s have gone the route of the small Church Pastor. They didn’t become Bishops or District Superintendents right out of Seminary. They have walked the walk and it has taken many years of experience to get where they are today. And most of the ones that I know are very humble persons..

  2. Pastor labors in prayer for the health and Shalom of the congregation and community.

    Pastor makes gut-wrenching decisions, knowing that they will be misunderstood by at least half the flock.

    Pastor spends hours wrestling with the Spirit over the Word and its transforming impact in his or her life before ever beginning to craft the message into a sermon.

  3. I thought this was a good article. I’ve noticed the media’s proclivity to paint ministry in a bad way. I’ve also noticed how the entertainment industry tends to make ministers and Christians look like fools sometimes.

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Glad to know this is CNN report is not supported by you. These individuals are denominations in themselves staffed as much as any organization. Franklin Graham has more planes than any of these but look at the work for Christ that he does.

  4. I’ll never forget during one worship at my time at United when you said “seminary can teach you a lot of things, but it cannot teach you how to sit at the bedside of the dying. You will have to learn that on your own.” Amen.

  5. A real pastor never writes a “tell all” book and keeps confidences to the grave!

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