categories: leadership, personal, priorities, spiritual development
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December 2nd, 2008

by Craig Groeschel

50 comments (+ Add)

Signs of a Lukewarm Pastor

In ministry, I’ve had seasons of full blown passion for Christ and His Kingdom. At other times, my passion leaked and I was spiritually empty. Here are a few signs you might be a lukewarm pastor from my own life and experiences helping other pastors.

A lukewarm pastor:

  • Prays as much, or more, publicly than privately.
  • Is almost exclusively dependent on others’ sermons to preach than directly hearing from God.
  • Cares more about his church than The Church.
  • Preaches about evangelism but doesn’t practice evangelism privately.
  • Tolerates and rationalizes unconfessed sin.
  • Preaches for the approval of people rather than the approval of God.
  • Is overly sensitive to criticism.
  • Harbors bitterness and unforgiveness.
  • Reads the Bible to prepare sermons but not for personal devotion to God.
  • Is jealous or critical of someone else that God is blessing.

What am I forgetting? Do you see any of this in yourself?

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there are a total of50
  1. 1Tom
    Dec 2, 2008 at 6:04 am

    I often find when I am spiritually empty I work longer hours at my ministry - as though I am trying to compensate for the Holy Spirit by quantity - when I am on fire God I maintain a much healthier balance of life.

  2. 2Tom
    Dec 2, 2008 at 6:05 am

    I often find when I am spiritually empty I work longer hours at my ministry - as though I am trying to compensate for the Holy Spirit by quantity - when I am on fire for God I maintain a much healthier balance of life.

  3. Dec 2, 2008 at 6:36 am

    Can you add: spends a lot of time thinking about/doing outside activities instead of studying and learning? I fall into that trap, especially in the summer when I have a greater opportunity to ride my bicycle. It is hard to cut off rides when the alternative is the office. :) Thanks to your Catalyst talk #4 has been bugging me more and more and I have now added that to my daily prayer list.

  4. Dec 2, 2008 at 6:57 am

    is quick to bash (!!!
    God please forgive me

  5. Dec 2, 2008 at 7:21 am

    More concerned with making the “Headline” than making sure their “Head & Heart are In-Line” with God!

  6. 6Jackie Bell
    Dec 2, 2008 at 7:25 am

    I would broaden the scope and re-title: “Signs of a Lukewarm Christian.” LORD, make/keep us passionate followers of Christ.

  7. Dec 2, 2008 at 8:14 am

    You gotta be “all up in my bidness” this week. :) I have been guilty of reading the Word to prepare and feed others but not for me. About 2 weeks ago I got in a crazy car wreck…a snow plow blade came through the side of my windshield and hit me in the side of the face. I walked away with just some stitches and bumps and bruises, but immediately after, even before getting out of my car, I felt God speaking to me about my personal walk, and that as important a role as I have in helping others with their walk, I can’t feed others if I am starving. Thanks for the posts again this week…

  8. Dec 2, 2008 at 8:33 am


    This post kicked my butt. VERY convicting. Just like your talks at Catalyst One Day. God is using you to challenge me. Thanks!

  9. 9Nate
    Dec 2, 2008 at 8:52 am

    How about adding ministering in isolation to this list? People assume that we pastors have lots of people in our lives but the truth is most fellow pastors I know have no one keeping them accountable and are pretty low on the authenticity scale.

  10. Dec 2, 2008 at 9:22 am


    Just wanted to say your “stuff” is INCREDIBLE! Thanks for taking the time to challenge me and help me develop in ministry! I am a youth pastor and am loving the direction I am receiving from your blog! Keep it up!


  11. Dec 2, 2008 at 9:47 am

    Here’s one I’m guilty of: Reads more books ABOUT the Bible and books by other pastors than you read the Bible.

  12. 13txmom4
    Dec 2, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Sorry to redirect the discussion but HAPPY BIRTHDAY CRAIG!

  13. Dec 2, 2008 at 10:27 am

    I’m just coming out of a season of passion-less spirituality. God has been moving in my heart about drawing closer to Him, and your post yesterday really ministered to me, and served as a confirmation of what I’ve known already.

    As a result, this morning I got up early and spent time in the word and in prayer - and had an awesome moment with the Lord! It’s only one step, but am so thankful for grace to let me come back and try again.

  14. 15Bryon Leonard
    Dec 2, 2008 at 10:29 am

    I am guilty of seeking approval from everyone. It is so hard to live by words and not be judged by my actions. Devoted follower of Christ. Devoted means to give one’s complete attention, or to apply one’s time zealously to some activity, pursuit, or cause, to dedicate by a solemn act. I was a fully devoted follower of Bryon. Sometimes it takes a car wreck or some tragic event to get our attention, but fortunately God has smiled on me and gave us another pregnancy. 2 boys, 2 girls, and 1 on the way due in late April. I am overwhelmed with how God has blessed us. Thank you Craig for direction, and leadership. Oh, and Happy Birthday.

  15. Dec 2, 2008 at 10:43 am


  16. Dec 2, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Happy Birthday Craig!

    Psalm 139:16,17

  17. Dec 2, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Ouch!!! I was going to wish you a happy birthday, Craig, but after this post you can FORGET IT!! :-)

    Just kidding. I see myself in this list in various seasons of my life. When I let the work of the Lord supersede my relationship with the Lord of the work, I get into this mode very easily. I am constantly having to push away from other things in order to come back to that “secret place” that Psalms describes.

    In fact, I think I have been slipping into a bit of lukewarmness over the past month or so. This post is very timely. Thanks for the reminder to keep our personal walk with God the priority. Oh, and happy birthday.

  18. Dec 2, 2008 at 11:26 am

    You could reword this as “Lukewarm Christian or follower of God and HIS path.” I pray for God to continually bring all of us to our knees ( I am living there today) and bring us to a place that we only seek Him and his word for direction and wisdom.

    Our world literally revolves around the sun for survival..but we need to choose to revolve our lives around the Son who will help us grow and survive in a broken world…”the mercies of the Lord NEVER cease!”

  19. Dec 2, 2008 at 11:33 am

    Happy Birthday Craig…may God break you and show you more of HIM than you could ever imagine this year and I personally pray for you, your family, your leadership, and that God continues to reveal HIS heart through you. My family is thankful that you have been a part of our lives….you truly have…”A Wonderful Life!” Blessing to you.

  20. Dec 2, 2008 at 11:37 am

    Happy Birthday Craig!

  21. Dec 2, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Happy Birthday Craig!

  22. Dec 2, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Another sign of a lukewarm pastor - being consumed with his pastoral career (what’s my next step up the ladder), his future ( what’s in this for me) and his paycheck (how do I get a little more for me). There is nothing wrong with God blessing a pastor, but let’s leave it up to him to do that.

  23. 26Jared B
    Dec 2, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    I can definitely get stuck preaching for people instead of God…and I have definitely taken criticism personally, but lately I’ve been learning to do it the right way, which I love!

    I think lukewarm pastors definitely settle for what is working instead of what can be the best…what God’s plans are. I try to always think about how I can change where I am to continuously meet where God wants me to be…and the ministry I am a part of.

    I think lukewarm pastors also compare where they are with where other pastors are and try to follow it. I think it’s not wrong to imitate the good characteristics, but it is wrong to imitate the overall actions of the ministry if God has not called them to the exact same thing. I am definitely guilty of this.

    I also think some lukewarm pastors look more for advice and a connection with other pastors with bigger ministries than they do with God. Maybe this is just me, I had a big problem with this one. Craig, I was (and still am leaning this way, but slowly learning) was always trying to meet with you to get advice for things, but eventually realized that God wants me to go to Him for those things. Otherwise, I would have trusted in you instead of Him. Thankfully, he didn’t allow us to meet in these times when I was looking for advice…because now I’ve grown closer to Him. Look to God first instead of people…it’s a must. Always ask Him your questions first…and have faith He will respond.

    And Happy Birthday Craig, you definitely deserve a great one. God bless you brotha

  24. 27Ron
    Dec 2, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    Yeah see some of these creeping in. Thanks for the word, God break and fill!
    Happy bday

  25. Dec 2, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I know this guy…

  26. Dec 2, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Happy Birthday Craig. I am new to and long for each Experience we attend. I don’t know how long it has been since I’ve talked all week (at home and work) about messages I’ve been challenged with, but since July that is exactly the way it has been. I found “It” @ (Tulsa Campus)

  27. Dec 2, 2008 at 4:04 pm


    Your leadership is always amazing. Thanks for the transparency and helping others learn from your mistakes. Bitterness and unforgiveness definitely plague me when I’m not making sure I take the time out for my own personal relationship with Christ. It’s so easy to help others and pastor others, but not always easy to ask them to help you stay accountable. While I’m not in paid ministry anymore, I am going to stay challenged to keep my devotion to God even in times where the passion starts to fade.

    Hope you had an awesome birthday!

  28. Dec 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    Wow. I am printing this one and posting it on my wall for a while. I would add: “is satisfied as long as the numbers look good.” Happy b-day!

  29. Dec 2, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    Good post….

  30. 34Josh Selley
    Dec 2, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Awesome blog, it really opened my eyes to look at myself as a traveling minister.

  31. Dec 2, 2008 at 6:07 pm

    Great stuff.

  32. 36ROSY
    Dec 2, 2008 at 6:43 pm

    Hi, my name is Rosy. Just wishing you a sincere Merry Christmas and for you to check out website =)

  33. Dec 2, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Wow, this is serious…Happy Birthday!!!

  34. 38JD
    Dec 2, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    A lukewarm pastor has the brain but not the heart for ministry. I am sure plenty of us have meant ministers that can blow your mind when it comes to exegeiting a text, or explaining the nature of Trinity, but give them an opportunity to serve and they look like a fish out of water. Christ had the amazing ability to stump the religious leaders of his day and yet also be at home and work with lowest of the low.

  35. Dec 2, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Man this awesome. Goes for more than pastors. I guess you could add valuing corporate worship more than private worship. Not that is isn’t sincere but it is like the seed in the rocky places - passion has no depth and when hardship comes along it burns up.

  36. Dec 3, 2008 at 1:00 am

    [...] Shared a link on Google Reader. Signs of a Lukewarm Pastor [...]

  37. Dec 3, 2008 at 1:32 am

    Thanks for the chin check Craig.
    I am in my first year of pastoring our church and we have been really blessed. Our church has almost doubled in attendance but, I have to say that I have been guilty of all the above. (Thankfully, not at the same time.) Am I off to the wrong start or what? I feel great inside, my marriage is great but leading a church is tough. I bought your book and it is great. Thanks for the transparency.

  38. Dec 3, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    [...] Posted on December 3, 2008 by Alastair Vance I read a post a day or two back about the Signs of a Lukewarm Pastor by Craig Groeschel.  Today, Carlos Whittaker has borrowed that idea and changed it to apply to [...]

  39. 43Don S. Smith
    Dec 3, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    Are you kidding me!! Am I being Punked? Has somebody been vidioing my life?? While not all the bullets apply just realizing that one or two of them have been a reality in my ministry at one time or another puts me on my KNEES! Thank you for the 2×4 to the head…practical spritual awakening! Blessing, Don Smith

  40. Dec 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    I find that I watch more movies and T.V. to fill the void in my head where the Holy Spirit usually is.

  41. Dec 4, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    [...] Craig Groeschel blogged about the easy transition from spirit-filled to me filled. It’s aways the right time to do a spiritual Check-up. [...]

  42. Dec 5, 2008 at 10:55 am

    [...] posts from Swerve’s series this week on being lukewarm that I felt were particularly great.  This first one talks about lukewarm pastors, but I beleive it could just as easily say lukewarm Christians, [...]

  43. Dec 17, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    I find that a telltale sign I’ve seen is an abandonment of discipline. This isn’t just limited to taking care of ourselves spiritually, but physically and emotionally. Diet suffers. Sleep button worn out on alarm clock. Neglected relationships and accountability. Less verbal communication with wife. Etc. Etc.

  44. Dec 23, 2008 at 11:05 am

    I hear ya loud and clear! I have been on this journey to rediscover not what I had but where God wants me to go! Being let down by spiritual leaders and now being a church planter has somewhat opened my eyes about what am I really about! Ministry is great but it’s that genuiness of who God is in our lives that counts. Thanks for helping me with your blog as I journey through the seasons of my life!

  45. 49Steve MacCord
    Jan 12, 2009 at 11:29 am

    This is crazy stuff! You certainly do not have to be a pastor(as i am not) to relate to these points. Another thing that stood out — the time it was posted. I want to be the kind of man of God that is up well before daylight contemplating the things of God.

  46. Jan 18, 2009 at 6:28 pm

    It’s all about the gut check. Am I the only guy who has a relationship with God like waves on the sea? Sometimes He is Right Here! and I am On IT! Praying, reading, reaching out, and then there are days like this. If I took the test above today I would flunk. so I will be back tomorrow, better rested prayed up, and hope to ace it. Wow, this roller coaster existence gets tiring.