In a previous post, I gave several reasons why writing a book is helpful for a pastor’s ministry. Each pastor has a primary message or area of ministry focus. And when they’re able to capture that message in book form, it’s a blessing to his congregation and those he influences.
While there are many reasons for pastors to consider writing a book, I think there are at least five reasons why a pastor should not write a book.
1. To Obtain Fame
Anyone who has the opportunity to speak publically on a regular basis will be tempted with the desire for fame. Unfortunately, there’s no less temptation for pastors.
A pastor’s responsibility is to serve for God’s glory and the good of His people. But there are always opportunities to highlight his speaking abilities, rather than the content of the message. I recommend the pastor approach his leadership team to help him determine if they feel that the message, timing, and motives are as healthy as they can be.
2. To Obtain Wealth
The pastorate isn't an immediate call to take a vow of poverty. But a pastor’s aim in writing a book shouldn't be to garner personal wealth.
If a pastor’s book happens to sell well and be helpful to others, that’s one thing. But if the pastor is solely looking to make a lot of money, then his motives are questionable (see 1 Timothy 3:3).
3. To Escape from Ministry
Pastoral ministry is tough, and many of us face temptations from time-to-time to make a vocational change. However, I don't advise subversively writing a book in hopes of launching a speaking ministry, consulting business, or anything else in order to escape from ministry. If the Lord calls you to write, check in with your leadership team to see if they are on board with that direction.
4. It Takes Away from Pastoral Duties
If you have high demands on your time from ministry and family, it may not be time to write a book. Don't compromise your calling and role as a pastor, husband, or father to focus on a writing career. Gather your thoughts, and write when you can, but never do so at the expense of the flock that the Lord has entrusted you to love and lead.
If you don't have the bandwidth for writing and it’s important to you, perhaps it’s time to hire or train more volunteers!
5. You’re Isolated from Community
It’s staggering how many pastors are lonely. In his book Dangerous Calling, Paul Tripp talks extensively about the isolation pastor’s experience. If you don't have good a community to love you, care for you, and hold you accountable, then writing a book and experiencing any level of success could be harmful. Unfortunately, there are several recent examples of disqualified pastors who had growing ministries. But amidst the growth, they became more and more isolated. That’s a bad combination.
As a pastor, a published author, and a publisher, I firmly believe that there are great benefits to pastors publishing a book. At the same time, pastoral work is demanding, and there are better times than others for writing a book. Lean on your leadership team to help you exercise discernment.