Pastors Don’t Do This 04: Become Pastor Pharisee (Part 3 – Be Prickly Over Small Things)

Jesus told us that the Pharisees “strain at gnats but swallow camels” (Matthew 23.24). It means they got upset by tiny things and didn’t get upset at great big things. I have met pastors like that – really upset that a baby cried in the service, but not upset about how mean they were. I have met many leaders like that and we need to make sure we are not like that!

I recently met a Bible College student who I apparently failed to say hello to at an event. They were very upset about it, and I know that as they told other people how terrible I was. They were upset about a small thing (if I was close enough to say hello to them, they could have come over and said hello to me, amazing how the universe works, and there could be 100 different things that could have distracted me at any time, I run 10 churches! There’s lots of times I am in a meeting and do not have the time to say hello to someone especially if they arrive late and leave early!) – but they were not upset that they were gossiping and slandering me and running me down. The gnat mattered a lot to them, their camel didn’t. That person unless they mature will if they enter the ministry quickly become Pastor Pharisee!

Remember when Jesus used to heal someone on the Sabbath, the Pharisees were really upset it was the wrong day to heal, but not upset that a child of God was sick, which should never be the case. They should have stopped caring about a little essential work on the day off, and cared about getting people healed and saved and delivered.

Pharisee Pastors never care about the lost, never care about getting people healed (unless it makes them look good). In Matthew 12, they did not care that a man couldn’t use his hand, which no doubt affected his income and livelihood, not to mention playing with his children (not to mention playing with his wife). They had zero compassion for something big, but they cared about something tiny.

No rule is more important than Jesus. But that rule is the truth! No – Jesus is the truth! You want to live a life of truth, follow Jesus – He is the truth (John 14.6). The Pharisees loved the gnats but didn’t realize how serious the camels were because they did not know the truth.

I saw someone once in a prayer line. I was sitting near the front of the meeting, and it was a healing meeting, and this young person was in the prayer line ready to pray for people. A little old lady came forward for prayer and asked, hestitantly, for prayer for her arthritis. Well, this young man, and two people with him, started yelling at her, screaming in her face that it was not “her arthritis”. Mark did not have their level of revelation because he said “the woman WITH the issue of blood”, but that’s not the point. The point is if you wanted to correct an old lady, you could do it with respect and kindness, but they in their desperation to get rid of a gnat, let the camel of rudeness, and even meanness, into that prayer line. It was very sad to watch, and the lady turned around and left the meeting. I am not convinced she will ever come forward for prayer again!

Those young people were not close to Jesus, they no doubt had been studying how to pray and how to minister, but they forgot the truth, Jesus is the Truth. When you are a pastor (or any of the fivefold ministry, or aspiring to be) never forget to walk closely with Jesus, that is more important than any gnat-principle you cherish so much! Many churches have been great, many revivals based around restoring a truth to the church have become distant and cool to THE TRUTH, Jesus. Don’t think grace people cannot become ungracious people, they can. Don’t think some people know a lot about Jesus but do not know Him, that happens. Do not become a Pharisee! Spend time with the Lord, be in church – even when you are not being platformed, spend time in the Word – not just to prepare messages, and keep the main things the main things.


Published by Tree of Life Church

We are a growing network of growing churches, with services weekly in Dagenham, Guildford, Watford, Croydon, Brentwood and Dorset. We are also planting churches in Cambridge, Suffolk, West Midlands and Hemel. Find out more at, and

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