Pastoral Schadenfreude

Schadenfreude is such a great word. Borrowed from German, it means “satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.”

And pastors have it. In spades.

Sadly, our schadenfreude is usually directed at other pastors or ministries. We’re not overt about it, mind you, but I can often detect a bit of glee lurking behind a request to pray for “fill-in-the-blank because he’s really struggling in his ministry right now.”

Or even the hidden satisfaction when someone shares the news with me: “Did you hear about fill-in-the-blank? Moral failure. He’s out of the pastorate now.”

In fact, just this week I found myself straining to overhear a conversation about struggles in another ministry. As if hearing about their struggles would be some sort of validation of my level of success.

It’s sick, really.

Because the fact remains that God is never honored through the failures or struggles of other ministries & pastors. I sure don’t think he’s lifted up when Good Shepherd has seasons of difficulty!

So today I prayed that God will be so much bigger than my schadenfreude. I prayed that he would favor ministries about whom I have misgivings or for whom I feel jealousy.

All so that he would be honored, lifted up, and praised as the source of all that is good about pastors and churches.

And so that he would replace my schadenfreude with a heart for the kingdom.