Creative Leadership

Do We Have Too Many Ministry Divas?

This is a blog post I wrote a few years ago, but it’s worth bringing back because it’s just as relevant today:

Today, we’re seeing a real rise in what I would call “ministry divas.”  These are men and women who are pastors, or ministry or spiritual leaders who’s focus is more on themselves than the people they serve.  As a public service to our readers, the global research team at Cooke Media Group has developed a list of warning signs that someone might be a ministry diva.  The following warning signs can apply to either a man or a woman:

1.    He doesn’t participate in worship.  He only comes out to preach.
2.    He’s escorted on and off the platform so he doesn’t actually have to mingle with people.
3.    He has multiple assistants – or what some call “armor-bearers” to carry his cell phone, Bible, man-purse, etc.
4.    He doesn’t travel that much, but needs a private jet when he does.
5.    When he visits other churches, he naturally assumes he’ll get either a seat on the platform or a front row seat.
6.    When he promotes his books, he always calls it a “best seller” even though it wasn’t.
7.    He makes ever growing demands on the church for more free time, bigger perks, larger personal staff, etc.
8.    He spends more on his wardrobe and cars than the church spends on the children’s program.
9.    Divorce is OK for him, because of the ministry pressures he’s under.  So when it happens, he doesn’t need to step down or submit to counseling – he doesn’t need it.
10.    When he advertises a conference in magazines or other places, his picture is the biggest thing on the ad.

Have you noticed other warning signs we should be looking for?

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  1. I believe there will always be those who are afraid of being deceived. We complicate things when we take our senses and rely on the opinions they form in us. Matthew 7:16 – Just remember the proof is in the pudding.

  2. I always thought that “diva” was just a feminine term — derived from the idea of “goddess.” Shouldn’t the male version be “devo”?

  3. Im not sure what churches you attend? Sounds like you are desribing NBA players !

    Where are the church counsels and elders in these situations?

  4. Ministry divas who are visionaries unrealistically expect a perfect Van Gogh masterpiece on the platform after allowing virtually no preparation time for their staff, all the while making multiple major last minute changes because they can’t decide. When the Van Gogh doesn’t show or glow, it’s the staffs fault.
    They also expect others to read their minds!

    Love this list. Thanks for posting!

  5. Here’s another warning sign: the ultimate Ministry Deva will not allow you to have eye contact them or initiate any verbal or non-verbal contact while working with them. To do so would result in being fired on the spot… like others before you.

  6. Read your blog on a regular basis. I know there are guys like this out there but how about another article that says how to recognize the good guys. The are a lot guys out there really working hard at being a good pastor.

  7. Ok, I’m a pastors kid, and I just need to clarify what is really going on here ..

    Yes, there are a few ‘divas’ out there, but I believe most pastors are trying to do the right thing.

    First of all, my dad (who is a pastor), drives a decent car that he payed for because he has some money from his prior business (insurance), and works two jobs (he’s 64).

    (Not only that, one of his sons, my brother, is disabled – he takes care of him too right now.)

    Also, since he has to work two jobs (because people in general do not tithe enough to cover the costs of the buildings, programs etc. – he is actually carrying his church financially) he is not able to do a ton of community service and whatever else people demand of him constantly.

    Also, and I think Phil Cooke would know this, placing the pastor’s pic in an ad is just a marketing thing – it’s not a pride thing. Besides, doesn’t Phil have his pic all over the place? Is Phil a church marketing diva?

    Anyway, I hope you see my point ..

    I challenge all who read this to become pastors – put your money where your mouth is!

    1. Seems like you might need to take a step back. You’re venturing off the path…drastically. Seems like there is more hurt here from the past. Phil is not directing it at people like your Dad. Does your Dad meet the signs mentioned above? I imagine that he doesn’t. He sounds like a great guy!

      1. Really appreciate the encouragement – my dad often gets misunderstood, he’s been called something to the effect of a ‘diva,’ but not that word), and it’s hard for me to watch (he’s actually very good to people, but more of a tech – poor people skills).

        He’s one of those guys that will help someone get a good job, fix their computers, help them in their time of need etc., and then say something offensive – then some of them go all around town bad mouthing him.

        I’m thinking he may have Celiac Personality (wheat etc. changes their personality – my grandma had it), but he’s old and doesn’t want to get checked.

        My dad does actually meet a few of the qualifications above, but mostly because we made him do it (we told him he needs to get an assistant to help him, get a better car to drive (bad back), get his name out there a bit etc.), and some folks got all crazy about some of it (the car is only a Honda, not a new Mercedes etc.).

        There’s another pastor in town that drives an old truck, says and does all the right things etc., but behind closed doors is sucking up a bunch of cash, buying real estate, land, gold, investments etc..

        Anyway, it’s been a tough year, hopefully 2012 will be better for all of us. If the Lord came back, that would be good. 🙂

  8. Hmm… Here’s a few more:

    *When he/she preaches, they rarely use the scriptures for reference…

    *When they do use scriptural references, he/she reinterprets the scripture to mean whatever they want it to…especially as it relates to ‘giving and tithing…” As if God had the bible written strictly for their personal enrichment…

    *They stress tithes and offerings…so long as YOU’RE the giver and THEY’RE the receivers. Don’t tithe and offerings go both ways…?

    *They hide the fact that they live in heavily guarded gated communities…far from the reach of their average church attendee…

    *They rarely, if ever stay behind after service to pray for people. They usually assign this demeaning task to one of their subordinates…

    *They won’t even stay behind long enough to shake a few hands after church…

    *They’re too busy and important to do things like visiting sick or incarcerated church members…or to officiate weddings or funerals. Unless of course it’s on behalf of one of their ‘high donor’ ministry ‘partners’…all of whom happen to be wealthy folks with lots of disposable income…

    *They are accountable to no one for their ministries. They’ve transcended every denomination, every ministerial board or code of conduct. Basically they even sit above Christ on their own special little thrones…

    I could go on for pages…

    1. Very sorry that you may have been hurt in some way, but in our denomination the pastors don’t do very well – I’m guessing you’re Pentecostal. Might want to switch denominations.

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