Creative Leadership

Warning Signs of a Ministry Diva

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 in the ad.

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

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  1. I totally agree with your analysis just to add, ive met a man of God who when he invites other preachers to preach in his church gets up after their message to correct every sentence even if its scripturally right!!!!!!!! talk of beig full of yourself!!!!!! i also know men of God who have bodyguards that are touts smoke indian hemp and scare the hell out of you. i

    I want to live the heaven on earth and be humble 

  2. After reading the warning signs of a ministry “diva” I am left asking myself, and anyone else who can answer, are we still talking about a “born again” believer in Christ here? 

  3. OK, first off Man-Bags came from the 70’s disco craze.

    Ministry Divas pervert vaild things in the Kingdom of God. Armor bearing is a vaild ministry. Their job is to provide a prayer covering for the minister when they are ministering. If an “armour bearer” is doing anything else besides maybe packing a bottle of water for the minister, they are a personal assistant, in which case – CARRY YOUR OWN CELL PHONE!

    Some ministers are not in the worship service because they are indeed preparing to minister to the people. However you can tell because sometimes they are in the worship service and sometimes not.

    I agree it’s a bad thing, the minister being escorted on and off the stage like some rock star. A good minister in even a large church will make time to pray with people after the service, usually at the front of the church, with the help of, yes his armour bearers and elders. The only time I can see that the minister should be escorted would be if they have received a crediable death threat (don’t laugh, it does happen).

    Ministry Divas learn the “language” of the ministry and use it as a club to keep people in line. My fear is that people will assume that the things like the “minister’s spiritual covering” are not real when indeed they are. 

  4. You can tell whenever you’re encouraged to bring your personal goods and services into “the storehouse” and turned away to state, county or other local agencies when you need help paying a utility bill or even your mortgage. 

  5. The Bibles has many teaching about these so called prophets and false teaching/prophets so why are some people choosing to bury their heads in the sand about it.  That’s why why these ‘Divas’ fool so many people because some of you  chose to only see what they want to see.  There is nothing wrong with vilifying a false prophet; they should be ousted and outted!!  Woe unto the shephard that leads His sheep astray or is that scatters his sheep!(?)

    Stay blessed.

  6. While living in Nashville a few years ago, I also attended the church where Michael W. Smith was co-pastor. I felt fortunate to have him lead the worship that day and function in his anointing as a worship leader. It’s true that he is an acclaimed Christian musician, but his anointing to bring forth the Spirit of worship in a person and the body of Christ is a God-thing not a diva-thing. People who are filled with the Spirit shine like a beacon light. He reflects his Savior.

  7. He is always telling you who his running crowd is and he never speaks of someone that is not a known name.

     He is always telling what he has done instead of what God has done.

     He always uses the word me instead of we. (Favorite sone "It’s all about me)

  8. I once played music at a tiny church as a guest. maybe 15 people in the whole room. and the pastor’s assistant (his brother). came into the room and announced him while he waited in the hallway. "Now, please welcome our dear esteemed man of God. Pastor…(whatever his name was)." Big cheers…I could’ve fallen off my chair. A room of only 15 people many of whom were the pastor’s own family. he entered like he was appearing before thousands. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Be yourself. a humble, lover of God. No one needs anything other than that!  

  9. 14. Says his congregation has been called there to "get behind his vision".

    15. Considers people to be "problems".

    16. Says he hears from God for his people and they need his covering. They may be in danger if they leave and go to another church.

  10. –His wife is “co-pastor” despite having no background or training that would prompt any other church to call her
    –He dismisses any critical comments about the church by claiming those people aren’t spirit filled
    –He hires or fires other staff on his own and doesn’t need to share any details with the congregation
    –He has all of the support staff, but none of them are empowered because he really controls ever area of the church
    –He’s not accountable to anyone
    –He controls who the elders of the church are- wouldn’t want anyone who might not say “yes”

  11. The numbers they report increase in proportion to how far from home they are.

     They act as though half the world is reading their Twitter entries.

    They seem to feel their position permits the use of borderline humor.

    They look down on successful spiritual giants from the past, (Billy Grahams, Jerry Falwell and James Kennedy’s).

     They rebute articles such as this.

  12. Has a golf cart to take him from his office to the pulpit.

    Someone else drives the cart.

    Someone else watches from a third seat in the cart to make sure no one approaches "the man"

    Some puts his toothpaste on his toothbrush.

    He has at least one relative on staff who had best gets nothing done and is a waste of money; at worst demoralizes everyone in their path–and no one can say a thing about it. 

  13. Since my previous post got deleted…. i will not be so direct.

    Warning sign 1

    Pastor writes exercise book.

     I’ll just leave it at that. 


  14. You can’t call them by their first name…its "Dr." or "Bishop" or "Pastor".

    (And the Dr. is never earned) 

  15. 17. One of his/her relatives signs the ministry checks.

    18. If the Diva is president-founder of the ministry, then the spouse and at least one of the kids will be on the board (which is stocked with hand-picked friends who are there to rubber stamp all decisions).

    19. There will not be enough budget for other parts of the ministry, but there WILL be funds available for the Diva’s salary, housing and first class travel expenses.

    20. Anyone who opposes the Diva – a person who has the courage to say NO – will be fired. Even if what they’re saying is true, right or necessary. The reason for the firing will be labeled as problems with that person’s "attitude" or "unfaithfulness".

    21. When the ministry goes through difficult financial times, faithful staff will be laid off. The Diva will, however, continue to travel and speak in the style to which they have become accustomed.

    22. The books the Diva writes are not actually written by the Diva. They are ghost-written. Some of their books are messages repackaged or reworded.

    23. The Diva sees the checkbook of the ministry as their own. To buy what they want, when they want, for whom they want. This includes shopping sprees, housing, clothing, jewelry, furnishings, and material possessions. These expenses will always find some sort of justification.

    24. Any problems encountered by their children (or the spouses of their children) will be covered up in efforts to save embarrassing the ministry overall. These grievances include a divorce, unwanted pregnancy, embezzlement, drug addiction, conviction or promiscuity.

    25. The Diva will always have an employed child or relative within the ministry who is incompetent. That person will be promoted.

    26. Upon advice of a consultant, the Diva’s ministry will exaggerate something innocent into something critical by way of a fundraising segment or direct mail letter in order to raise much needed revenue.

    27. Never mess with the spouse of the Diva. Never.


  16. A Diva can’t be on a pedestal unless they are put there. Christians would not be fooled if they were  truly immersed in the word, practiced discernment and had the courage to act or walk! Like us all, Divas are sinners and need God’s grace expressed to them through brothers and sisters wise enough to give them timely council. 

  17. Forgot a few…


    Proclaims "touch not thy annointed" any time anyone gets close to threatening the diva life. 

    In a 24 hour period, can ask three long time staff members to take a cut in pay because funds are low, then jump on a private plane to next engagement.



  18. Man-Purse…In some circles, known as a "Merse." Very Hollywood. It has the same stuff in it that a "woman’s purse" would have without the long strap, cute buckles or lovely colors…at least not yet!

  19. rofl….and my daughter says it started with Joey carrying a Man Purse in an episode of Friends. Is my over-the-shoulder laptop bag a Murse? I fear change…..

  20. "Some of their books are messages repackaged or reworded."

    I dont know about this one…..Some of the most anti-diva pastors do this.


  21. This is unfortunate but true.  It makes it diificult for the business/ lay person to respect anyone in ministry because of the abuses.  My husband and I have been in ministry for 10 years and we had to detox from what I call the "ministry machine."  It is a poison destroying the muscle system of the church.  The Bible doesn’t just say that it is a sin to be offended, it also says it is a sin to diliberately cause an offense!  These behavior patterns are causing so much offense.

  22. On the thought of children and wifes on staff as co-pastors or any other position, they should only be there if God has called them there and they are willing to go through the process everyone else is willing to go through.  I have heard so many say they were leaving their ministry to their children.  Is is not their ministry to leave, it is Gods.  That is an Old Testement mentality and not found in the New Testement.  Also, there are a lot of spouses in ministry with their husbands or wives that are not called to be there.  We have created a culture in ministry that makes women, especially, feel like they have to be involved and called to pastor/ minister just like their spouses or they are not in "agreement."  I mean the VP of a bank doesn’t expect his/her spouse to go to work with them everyday and do the same thing in order to be supportive and in "agreement."

  23. True to one degree, however, there are a lot of new believers out there that wouldn’t have the opportunity to know that.  The pastor and minister are there to perfect the saint and help them grow.  This behaviour stunts the growth of many new and young believers.  That is like telling a baby to feed and grow themselves.  If a baby get a bad taste from the bottle he may resist the nutrition he needs to grow.

  24. True, we can’t expect new Christians to step up to the plate and restore biblical fidelity within a church. But where in the world are the elders, deacons etc. of the church? They are the key people responsible for shepherding the congregation and if necessary, admonishing an ego long before it gets out of hand!

    As stated before, discernment and courage is needed in today’s body of Christ. Action within the church must be taken before problems are apparent to the public and bring shame, ridicule and distress to a church.

  25. While I chuckled at most of this…I’m also saddened by it. Mostly saddened that THIS is the thread that gets the most response on a site that has many constructive points to make. I know you see ALL of this in ministries and churches you are called on to visit and/or consult for. But I’m also guessing you’re preaching to the choir here with this one. Phil…let’s find ways to make GREAT TV/Media to change this culture rather than find opportunities to randomly vent on this blog. All in…I’m appalled by the divas…so let’s stop wasting our time on them and find/cultivate those that GET IT!

  26. I remember the day after 200 or so PTL employees were laid off in the early 1980’s the Charlotte Observer broke the news that Jim and Tammy had just purchased a 38 foot houseboat.

    They were divas in the day…but I am glad to see not the case in his new ministry. 

  27. You might have missed this point earlier–the elders of the church are either yes men are fired or they "walk" because they have discerned that all is not right so the new believer is left to fall prey to those that will abuse their position of authority (usually self appointed) to convince that person that they should be under this persons covering and if they get out from it it could mean serious consequences for them and that their gifts and talents are to help promote that pastor whether it is an inordinate amount of time volunteering for the minstry or even worse for taking care of their personal needs (washing cars-babysitting their kids-cleaning their house) so that the pastor can promote them if they feel they have served with enough humility. Dont’ misunderstand, I think it is great if someone feels led to bless the pastor and his family in these ways but it should come from someones heart and not expected.

  28. 1. The Diva will employ staff who will honestly tell you to your face, "Listen, this church is all about [insert Diva’s name]. Its all about his vision and nothing else."

    2. The Diva will eventually take a good suggestion, but only after 7 people have resigned in frustration from the same position, ten years have passed, and mountains of cash has been wasted.

    3. The Diva reserves the right to change his or her mind at any time and say "God says so" and not be held accountable for the consequence of his indecision.

    4. The Diva will only release public financial statements unless the press continually hound him for at least 3 – 5 years, not because he actually wants to be accountable.

    5. The Diva will feature almost exclusively on his own TV ministry, wasting gazillions of dollars buying airtime outside the catchment area of his congregation. Great for flogging his products but a poor media strategy for church growth. No quantative measurement, goals or KPIs will be used to ensure the cost effectivenes of this approach – just a "vibe".

    6. The Diva will be so sensitive he will commence each relationship only if he absolutely HAS TO, and from an assumption of distrust. 

    7. The Diva will break most of his own rules and have no idea he is doing so. 

  29. Great comments Phil! I bought a copy of your book: Branding Faith, for each of our team members in Tasmania and will be discussing it together soon. Well done with the blog and book!!

  30. Phil,  Thank you for saying this. It is so true. I work in a mega church and watch as many aristocrats and Diva’s come through our church. I have also watched my own pastor respond as much praise is thrown his way. The appearance of success ( Mega churches are not necesarily succesful) is hard for most to handle as it brings way too much temptation. 

  31. WOW!  Does this ever strike a chord!  My favorite Diva story was at a church in Kentucky where I was to meet a guy to talk re: a documentary project about "revival." As I approached the facility, I will never forget how I felt when I saw the evangelist show up at the front door in a stretch limo!  What’s wrong with this picture?  Needless to say I became instantly less enthusiastic about the project!!!

  32. Several years ago I attended a church where Michael W. Smith was a co-pastor. This acclaimed Christian music star didn’t lead worhsip or sing but did the announcements and helped adjust the microphone for the speaker and clearly acted as a servant. I don’t know what he’s like all the time, but on that day he showed me a model of the opposite of ministry diva.

  33. In the 90s I was chosen to direct a travel show pilot in Paris, France. 8 days all expenses paid in The City of Lights. Hardly gets better than that. The camera crew was from a good PBS station in South Carolina. Had never worked with them. Charlie and Craig, really good guys.

    Finishing one of our set-ups in a square one morning, I picked up a pretty heavy Sachtler tripod, then put it on my shoulder so our crew could move a block away to another position. Charlie, the cameraman, asked me "what are you doing?" "Carrying the tripod," I said. Charlie then said, "we’ve never had a director or producer carry the tripod." My response: "you both have gear, I have an extra hand. If I help with the tripod we get to the next set-up faster."

    They both smiled in appreciation.

    Don’t be a Production Diva either.

  34. Can I come from a bit of a different angle on this one? 

    I’m in complete agreement that ‘divas’ do a great diservice to the Kingdom of God and am saddened by the excesses of some.

    As I read many of the comments though I felt saddened by how quickly we seem to jump to criticise, and the ‘glee’ (interesting word, I know) with which many seem to do it. Frankly, this does a great disservice to the Kingdom of God as well. I in no way am trying to defend ‘diva’ behavior but is this really the way the scriptures teach us to respond?

    Let’s call stuff out, but with a prayerful edge rather than a sarcastic one. I wonder how many of us took a moment to pray for these ministers/ministries?

    One last thing – a number of items on the list are rightfully ridiculous but some of them are done by some who are humble and have an amazing spirit:

    1. There are some ministers who miss worship because they have multiple services to preach during the day/weekend or they are so passionate about delivering the Word to their best that they pray right up to the moment they hit the platform.

    2. Yes, some people have taken armor bearing too far but there are some who have an amazing spirit of service and genuinely help the leader (and learn in the process as well… Jesus had 12 guys he took everywhere with him). I’m against guys who just carry phones and murses so the preacher looks good but there are some who do this with a really cool spirit.

    3. If you had a church in the thousands – it may not be wise or safe for you to mingle after service either (not saying this is always the way it should be but we need to at least give a little benefit of the doubt)

    4. I do agree completely with every other point… 🙂 and that there are some who do 1-3 in the totally wrong spirit.

    All this to say, please join me for a moment in prayer for the Body of Christ in North America… there are a lot of good things happening, and a lot of great leaders rising up. Let’s pray for the ‘diva’s’ that they will see what’s going on and change 



  35. Judgement must first start "in the House". And it may not be the chosen who are annointed for the task of exposing the wolves, but outsiders. We have been warned though, more than two millennia ago, that the church would be overtaken by an apostasy so great that we would have to flee from it. "Come out of her…and be ye not partakers…" so I’m not kidding myself that these wolves are supposed to change. They know full well what they are doing, and we become enablers if we let them get away with it. A Brooklyn Ny pastor was just arrested in Jamaica for sexual misconduct and his hosts who inviited him to minister at their tent crusades are shielding him! Is that what God wants? This man actually paid a 14 and a 15 year old to help him indulge in his pedophile fantasies and church folk are shielding him?

    Now that disgusts me even more than his eggregious acts.

  36. AMEN…we make the monster…and we keep feeding it too! Stop the gullibility of the flock and you stop the monster!

  37. yes ,my pastor pays his own salary ,fired the trustee board, runs the church with his family, pays his and wife cell phone bill from the church funds,set up his own retirement and pays it with the chuch money, pays himself $100.oo a month for gas, and gives his wife $300.00 every fifth sunday to speak a few words to the church andhas a charge card and has charged $10,000 to the church mainly for his personal use when asked for a receipt gets very angry and tells the congregation it is not their buisness he is the pastor and he does what he wants to do , he has been taking $2,000 a month from the tithes and offerings and at the end of the year he gives himself $24,000 and pretends the church gives it to him so he don,t get taxed by the irs, as he states no body can touch him ,i have the proof of what i am writing , i wish the irs would audit him so bad and he is always up putting people down. This pastor lies and steals, well this is enough he can’t preach , states he don’ t have the time to study, he don’t work, he has to take his daily walk, care for his garden.

  38. Here’s a couple more.

    1. He never thanks or acknowledges the volunteers
    2. He shows up late to Sunday, leaving his staff to scramble to get the service ready.
    3. He’s either out the door or on his cell phone the minute the sermon is over.
    4. He spends half the sermon pushing his new book.
    5. He’s more concerned with how he looks on livestreams than he is with meeting or welcoming people.

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