I love to please people! All my life, I have wanted people to like me, affirm me, and generally think that I’m wonderful. As I have matured as a leader and as a pastor, I’ve discovered that I have to sometimes set those desires aside and do the right thing regardless of what other’s think. My goal MUST NOT be to simply “please people” — my goal must be to help people and please God. Sometimes I have to set boundaries and tell people “no” in order to help them. Other times I have to model a new approach and lead people to walk in a more effective, efficient manner.
Sometimes I have to set boundaries and tell people “no” in order to help them.
Everyone seems to have their idea of what their pastor should do and how he should use his time. Hardly a week goes by, that someone does not pull them aside and share with them their opinion of what their life’s assignment should be. Most of the time, the assignment is fair and reasonable, but it almost always matches their own personal preferences and desires instead of the desires of the Lord or their pastor. As the senior pastor, he MUST consider the big picture and keep the entire church body in mind as he leads. If he simply jumps from personal assignment to personal assignment, he will not lead with vision and God-given direction.
Here are the 5 promises I made to a church during my first sermon as their senior pastor:
- I promise to love God. In order to fulfill this promise, I must be disciplined in my private time with the Lord. The man who never spends time with God in private is no good in public.
- I promise to love my family. I love to work hard and I love being a pastor (most the time). Because of this, I have to guard against neglecting my family. I have asked other staff members to tell me if they see this in my life and I have pledged to tell them if I see it in their lives.
- I promise to love you. I love our church and all our people. I look forward to serving our Lord together for many years to come. Keep in mind that all of our pastors love God and love our people as well.
- I promise to love the unchurched. I want to see people come to Christ. I need to spend more time around lost people. I need to get out of the office more and into the community.
- I promise to preach the Bible. I have tried my best to focus on God’s Word in my sermons and in my teaching. It takes time to prepare true, Biblical sermons, but it is worth all the hard work and extra effort. Currently, I set aside Tuesday and Wednesday as my main study days. Occasionally, I will schedule an appointment or meeting on those days, but I try to devote those days to preparation for preaching and teaching the Bible.
I also went on to say the following to them:
As we move forward, I pledge to always be open to suggestions and ideas. My default of wanting to please people will always be there, I’m sure. But, I promise when I’m faced with the choice of “simply pleasing someone” or “providing Godly leadership,” I will strive to choose providing Godly leadership every time.
If you are a pastor, hang in there! God is good and worthy of our service. If you are a church member, pray for your pastor. Encourage him. Be a blessing and serve God faithfully!
The last few years, Laura and I have become interested in hiking. We don’t plan to thru-hike the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest trail anytime soon–we mainly focus on day hiking. As a result, we enjoy the trail with very little planning and minimal cost. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of similarities between hiking and everyday life.
4 Hiking Lessons
1. Good equipment helps. Good hiking shoes, trekking poles, and backpacks make hiking more enjoyable and hikers more proficient. Likewise equipping ourselves as pastors, disciples, church members, and/or parents makes all the difference. We don’t know what we don’t know, so it helps to be equipped with new knowledge and abilities.
“We don’t know what we don’t know…”
2. Sometimes you hike uphill. We love trails that have lots of climbing. We seek them out when we plan. It’s great exercise to make your way up a long, challenging climb. It’s so rewarding when you reach the top. Life often seems like a long, challenging climb. Christians are not exempt from difficulty. Those difficult life moments often shape us into better people and mold us into more dedicated Christians.
3. Sometimes you hike downhill. Trails that go up eventually come down. Going downhill is easier, but not without challenge. You can easily lose your footing because you are moving faster and with little resistance. Going downhill can lead to a lack of concentration and focus which usually ends poorly. Life is a lot like going downhill. When things are going well and success seems easy we often make quick and uninformed decisions that cause us to fall. “Downhill” makes us feel invincible which leads to decisions laced with arrogance. Solomon warned us that “Pride comes before destruction and an arrogant spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18, HCSB).
“Downhill makes us feel invincible which leads to decisions laced with arrogance.”
4. You can do more than you think. Now that we are hikers, we’ve climbed hills we never imagined that we could. Slowly, steadily, step after step–eventually we reach the top! I’ve watched several YouTube channels of men and women who thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. When they finished the 2,181-mile trek, they were amazed they covered the entire distance on foot. One guy said, “It blows my mind to think that I just walked from Georgia to Maine!” We should dream big and shoot high in life and in Christ! Through Him and over time we can do more than we could ever imagine (Phil 4:13).
I am fortunate to lead the Church Consulting & Revitalization Team at the Kentucky Baptist Convention. This team consists of a group of multi-talented over-achievers to say the least. Several team members hold earned doctorates, some have published books, but all are viewed as experts in certain areas of church life.
So, how do you lead a team like this? Let me first say that there is no one correct way. Several methods could prove successful, but here’s my approach.
4 Keys to Leading a High-Powered Team
1. Be yourself. In order to lead a team like ours, I must be comfortable in my own skin! I can’t try to match up to the superstars on the team. I just need to be who God made me to be. Team members of this caliber will see through a fake leader in a heartbeat! Personally, I am a relational guy. As a result, I lead through relationships instead of through authority. If I need to show authority I am willing to do so, but it’s not the approach that fits my personally. Rarely do high-powered team members need to be shown authority. They work hard and show respect because that’s who they are and that’s how they have reached their current level of success.
2. Let team members be themselves. When I’m comfortable being who God made me to be it helps team members to be comfortable with who God made them to be. Each member of our team is different……unique…..uniquely gifted. I try to get to know them and meet them where they are. Of course, I don’t have different expectations or requirements–there must be consistency in certain areas, but I give each member space to approach their work in a way that matches them.
3. Stay out of the spotlight. I’ve heard it said that a leader “shares” the spotlight. My approach is to “stay completely out of” the spotlight when possible. Instead, I try to spotlight our team members. Why would I need to be in the spotlight when I have a team of superstars? Why would I want to do that when I desire to model a team core value of teamwork and putting others first? Certainly there are times when the team leader has to be up front, but I limit those times as much as possible. As often as I can, I try to put others in the spotlight and on the microphone.
4. Be honest. Even superstars need feedback, coaching, and occasional correction. Typically, it’s “big picture” coaching. An NBA superstar like Kevin Durant doesn’t need to be coached on his shot follow-through, but he does need coaching on how he fits into the overall team strategy. He needs to know the objective and the strategy for success. I try to be as honest as possible with team members and of course I reserve individual corrections for private settings. I have found that my team members are very open to suggestions on how they can be more effective. I also seek their input on how I can be more effective as well.
Let me know if our Church Consulting & Revitalization Team can help you in any way as you strive to get your church unstuck! You can reach me by email or at (502) 489-3571 or toll-free at (866) 489-3571.
I have served as pastor of four Kentucky Baptist churches and as an interim pastor of several more. Here are ten things that I love about being a pastor.
10 Things I Love About Being A Pastor
1. Walking through life with people you know and love. This is not true for all pastors because some pastors are introverts, but I love people. As their pastor, church members often include you in the important moments of their lives.
2. Encouraging members when they’re going through difficult times. No one is exempt from difficulty. As a pastor, I’m called upon during difficult moments which allows me the unique privilege of encouraging church members during these moments.
3. Preparing to preach each week. Every week as I prepare to preach God’s Word, God does a work in my life! The biggest challenge each week is figuring how to narrow down my study notes into a 25-30 minute message.
4. Working closely with fellow staff members. Serving side-by-side with a Godly church staff is a joy and a privilege.
5. Watching church children be children. Children provide lots a good laughs as well as constant reminders of what really matters. Children help to keep us young-minded!
6. Seeing people become passionate about Jesus. This is especially rewarding from a pastor’s perspective. The process of disciple-making never gets old.
7. Being passionate about Jesus. Serving as pastor helps to fuel my passion for Jesus and for His Word. Knowing that your church members look to you for spiritual guidance and strength is a strong motivator.
8. Helping a church refocus for effectiveness. Every church needs to refocus on an ongoing basis. Leading a church towards a new, more effective focus is very rewarding.
9. Leading. Churches are desperate for Godly, visionary leadership. Without question, the pastor is the KEY leader of the church.
10. Following. Leaders need to model being a good follower. In other words, they should not micro-manage their staff or those who lead ministries in the church.
I have served “as” a deacon and I have served “with” deacons. As a pastor I appreciated the office of deacon and the men who served in that role. Here are a few of the reasons I really like deacons:
6 Reasons I Like Deacons
1. Deacons are fellow servants. As a pastor, I was a servant of the Lord and a servant of the church. According to Acts 6, my main role as a pastor was to serve the church through preaching/teaching and prayer. Likewise, deacons are servants of the Lord and servants of the church.
2. Deacons are fellow men. I know there are exceptions where women serve as deacons, but in all the churches where I served as pastor, the deacons were all men. Men need to be around other men. We need the accountability and the example. Serving with men of God who were deacons helped to keep me on track in my spiritual walk and discipleship path. As Scripture says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17, ESV).
Men need to be around other men.
3. Deacons are human. Even though pastors hold an important office and are held to high standards according to 1 Timothy 3, they are not perfect. They make mistakes just like everyone else. Deacons are held to the same high standards and qualifications as pastors, but they are human also.
4. Deacons are leaders. Most churches are desperate for leadership–especially servant leadership. Deacons, along with pastors, are uniquely positioned to provide much-needed servant leadership modeled after Jesus’ example in John 13.
5. Deacons are partners. Jim Henry, longtime pastor of FBC Orlando, referred to his deacons as “partners in ministry.” That is the perfect title for a deacon. No pastor or staff can carry out all the ministry needed in a local church. We need to partner together to serve God’s church.
…deacons are partners in ministry.
6. Deacons are friends. Some of my closest friends have been deacons with whom I have been privileged to serve.