Church Culture Revolution eBook

A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives


Personal Assessment

How Emotionally Healthy Are You?
Take a free 15 minute personal assessment now!

*We respect your privacy by not sharing or selling your email address.

Personal Assessment


The "Tiger Pastor"

Posted on May 10th, 2011

I read Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother with ambivalent emotions. It is true that many Chinese parents raise stereotypically successful kids (at least as defined by academic achievement and upward mobility) through discipline, parental intensity and a narrow view of what constitutes intelligence.  But I think Howard Gardner’s seminal work on seven types of intelligence -linguistic, logical-mathematical, bodily-kinesthetic, spatial, musical, interpersonal, and intra-personal — is more holistic and more in line with God’s view of what makes “intelligence.” Nonetheless, I believe there is a “Tiger Pastor” in the Western church, and in me. I was trained as one actually. What might a “Tiger Pastor” look like? To begin, I think they are: 1. Workaholics. Life is growing the numbers in the church, the buildings, the budget, the next hill to climb.There is little time for life outside of work for play. Life is, sadly, very narrow. 2. Delight-deficient. Again, there just isn’t time. Much like Amy Chua boasted in having her children practice hours on the violin during vacation, “Tiger Pastors” simply treat “time off” as an opportunity to recharge and think about work. 3. Obsessive and Driven. It was painful to read Tiger Mom because I understand her intensity.I have seen it in Italian American, Jewish, Korean and Indian parents.  I have seen it in many a “Tiger Pastor.” I know when it erupts in me. It is one of the temptations of the wilderness for most of us in church leadership. 4. Narcissistic. Unknowingly, some pastors use their flock as extensions of their own needs and ambitions. It is easy to do. Did Amy Chua? That, of course, was the great controversy around her book. A friend of mine, a clinical psychologist with 30 years of experience, argues that all humans suffer from a slight form of narcissistic personality disorder. O, how we need a contemplative life with God! 5. Busy. I was reading John of the Cross‘ work on Song of Songs today and was struck how he was anything like a “Tiger Pastor” in the 21st century church. Immersed and swimming in the delight of His Bridegroom Jesus, he paints a very different type of leader for me in God’s church. 6. Confusing. Amy Chua, much like many a ‘great’ pastor, is a mix of good and bad (evil?) that is difficult to sort out. We are all both. The question is how large the gap is between what we say and what we do. When good things are being done by leaders in the name of Christ, it can often be challenging to sort this out. 7. Unaware of Long Term Consequences – Amy Chua’s parenting approach has clear, short term rewards built in for her children – great schools, awards, etc.  A “Tiger Pastor” may grow a large church for a season, even for their lifetime. The question, however, is the fruit long term. Does it actually remain? (Jn. 15:1-5) What might you add to this list to describe a “Tiger Pastor?”

Share This Post:
Download + Subscribe
Church Culture Revolution: A 6-Part Vision That Deeply Changes Lives