Passive Aggressive Pastor
Passive Aggressive Pastor

Dealing with a passive-aggressive pastor within your church congregation can be a challenging and emotionally draining experience. While we all expect our spiritual leaders to embody the virtues of love, understanding, and compassion, sometimes they exhibit behaviors that are far from these ideals.

In this article, we will explore 11 effective strategies to help you navigate the complexities of dealing with a passive-aggressive pastor. Let’s dive right in, using active voice and compassionate tone throughout.

How to Deal with a Passive Aggressive Pastor

#1. Initiate a private, respectful conversation with the pastor

The first step in addressing any issue is communication. Approach your pastor privately and respectfully express your concerns about their behavior. Use “I” statements to avoid sounding accusatory. For example, say, “I feel hurt when…” rather than “You always make me feel…”. This approach is less likely to trigger defensiveness.

#2. Try to understand the underlying reasons for the behavior

Passive-aggressive behavior often stems from unexpressed feelings, resentment, or unresolved conflicts. Ask open-ended questions to encourage your pastor to express their thoughts and emotions. This will help you gain insight into the root causes of their behavior. It might even result in your learning to ignore your pastor’s behavior and/or forgiving your pastor and moving on.

#3. Clearly define appropriate behavior within the church community

Establishing clear expectations for behavior within the church is crucial. Work with your fellow congregants and church leaders to create a code of conduct that promotes healthy communication, respect, and empathy. Share this document with your pastor, ensuring they understand and agree to these guidelines.

#4. Involve other church leaders

Don’t bear the burden of dealing with a passive-aggressive pastor alone. Seek support from other church leaders who may have observed similar behavior. A united front can be more effective in addressing the issue and finding a resolution.

#5. Suggest regular feedback sessions with your pastor

Encourage open and honest communication by proposing regular feedback sessions with your pastor. This can provide a structured platform for discussing concerns, sharing feelings, and working towards a healthier relationship.

#6. Invite a third party for mediation

If the situation doesn’t improve through private conversations or feedback sessions, consider involving a neutral third party. A trained mediator or counselor can help facilitate discussions between you and your pastor, ensuring that both parties have a chance to express themselves.

#7. Keep a record of specific instances of passive-aggressive behavior

Documenting specific incidents can be invaluable in addressing passive-aggressive behavior. Note dates, times, locations, and descriptions of each incident. Having concrete examples will help you convey your concerns to your pastor and other church leaders. Here’s a sample:

DateIncident Description
MM/DD/YYYYDuring the sermon, the pastor made sarcastic comments about…
MM/DD/YYYYIn a meeting, the pastor repeatedly avoided discussing…
MM/DD/YYYYThe pastor criticized a congregant’s idea without offering…

#8. Focus on the positive aspects of your church community

While dealing with a passive-aggressive pastor can be challenging, remember the positive aspects of your church community. Focus on the faith, spirituality, and relationships that bring you joy and fulfillment. Maintaining a positive outlook can help you navigate difficult situations more effectively.

#9. Take care of your health and that of fellow congregants

Stress and emotional turmoil can take a toll on your health and the well-being of fellow congregants. Encourage one another to prioritize self-care, both physically and mentally. Support groups or counseling services can be beneficial during trying times.

#10. Engage in personal prayer and reflection about the situation

Turning to your faith for guidance and strength is essential. Spend time in personal prayer and reflection, seeking spiritual insight on how to deal with the challenges posed by a passive-aggressive pastor. Trust that your faith will provide you with the wisdom needed to navigate this difficult situation.

#11. Consider alternatives to your pastor or even your church

If all else fails and the situation remains unbearable, it may be time to explore alternatives. This could involve seeking a new pastor, attending a different church, or even starting a faith-based group outside of the current congregation. Your spiritual well-being is paramount, and sometimes a change of environment is necessary for your growth and peace.


Dealing with a passive-aggressive pastor can be emotionally taxing, but with compassion, understanding, and proactive strategies, it is possible to address the issue effectively. Remember that your pastor is also human, subject to the same emotions and struggles as anyone else. By initiating open and respectful communication, seeking support from fellow congregants and leaders, and prioritizing self-care, you can navigate this challenging situation while preserving your faith, spirituality, and the well-being of your church community. In the end, it’s about finding a path that aligns with your beliefs and values while ensuring a healthy and harmonious church environment.