Mark Twain reportedly said that man is the only creature that blushes—or needs to.

Guilt is perhaps the modern world's most undervalued commodity. Our capacity for it is a hint of our meaning and destiny. We are able to knowingly create good—and evil. The ability to experience guilt is a sign of health. The only two kinds of people who experience no guilt are saints and psychopaths.


I often think that guilt is a particular hazard for people involved in ministry and church leadership. I don't mean the kind of 'godly sorrow' that the Spirit brings to lead us to repentance and full life. I mean the kind of chronic cloud of inadequacy and general 'loserliness' that chokes motivation and saps energy. So here are a few chronic guilt-inducers that you might want to consider unloading.

Not pleasing everyone.

A friend of mine left the marketplace to start working in the church. He said his biggest surprise in his new role was that it can seem like everyone in the church feels like his supervisor.

Technology makes the greatest talks in the world available to everyone. They're free to compare and contrast with whomever happens to be the live teacher at their church. And everyone has opinions. Years ago when I spoke at a conference a total stranger came up to me and said, "I thought your voice sounded familiar. A friend of mine gets all your tapes—and sends me the good ones."

I think pastors in particular struggle with guilt here for a few reasons. One is that the pastorate attracts a disproportionate number of people-pleasers (as opposed to other occupations like being an umpire or marine drill sergeant or wedding coordinator). Another is the nature of our work. We deal with what matters most. If we fail, then the ...

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Confession  |  Discouragement  |  Grace  |  Guilt  |  Self-examination  |  Soul
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