I guess I’ve always felt like I was somewhat of a leader. With my Type A personality, taking charge of situations has not always been easy, but I haven’t refused the challenge. However, I can say that being a church leader has presented more challenges than any other situation that I’ve experienced in my life. I’ve been on staff at my church now for almost 7 years. I’ve served under difficult leadership, as well as leadership I could spend the rest of my ministry under, and I’ve learned a lot from both. I’ve learned how you should conduct yourself as a leader, and more importantly, how you shouldn’t. I’ve learned how to lead a church through difficult circumstances, and how to celebrate God’s victories within the church. I’ve learned that hasty decisions can reap disastrous consequences, and sometimes the best thing is to just sit still and wait on God to move, no matter how many people are telling you it’s wrong.
I’m sure we all have these types of stories. All of the experiences referenced above are lessons I have gleaned from those who have led me. No matter your current situation, or even past experiences, I just wanted to encourage you to encourage the leadership around you. Here are a few points to remember as you lead while being led.
1. Support your Pastor, even when you may not agree.
This is a difficult one for me, due to my own experience serving under leadership who consistently made poor and unbiblical choices; in such a case, the right thing to do was to strongly enforce accountability for the decisions being made. So please let me clarify; there’s a big difference between following a leader who you know has Biblical convictions, and one who does not. One verse that always comes to mind is Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” The call in this verse is first to the leader, then to the one being led. The responsibility to watch over someone else’s soul is the reason why we know being a leader is a “calling”. Who would want that responsibility otherwise? One day, your Pastor will have to give an account to God for every soul they were trusted to shepherd and disciple. If your Pastor’s heart is exactly that, then why cause strife for them by not being supportive? Even if you don’t agree with the plan, support your Pastor in their decisions. Remember that their call is to lead the flock, which you are a part of.
2. Be a Servant/Leader to your Pastor
Jesus himself was of this mindset; in order to lead effectively you must serve those around you. This practice will go a long way in building trust with your leadership. If your Pastor knows that your heart is to serve the church and the leadership of the church, you’re building a relationship that has a foundation of trust. Not only that, but you are allowing your leadership to more openly share their heart, which allows you to understand where God is leading them. Having this understanding opens the door for you to be ministered to, while ministering to others, which is incredible!
3. There’s LOTS to learn, so listen up!
There’s a good possibility that your Pastor has been in ministry for quite sometime. They’ve seen a lot. They’ve experienced times of growth, and times of drought. They’ve rejoiced and have prayed through times of blessing, and have returned to their knees in prayer during difficult times. I have learned, and continue to learn so much from my Pastor. I cherish every discipleship moment, and glean from his experiences. Sure, sometimes I think I’ve got it all figured out, like I’m the new guy with a new formula. I may think I’m full of the method, but my Pastor is full of the message. He’s lived it, breathed it, fought for it, and has been humbled by it; there’s so much to learn from! One day, it will be our turn to do the same for others, but for now, just soak it in.
4. Know that only one man achieved perfection, EVER.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”– Hebrews 4:15
I know I’m hitting it hard with Hebrews, but this verse is exactly my point. Only Jesus achieved perfection, so don’t expect it from your Pastor. I’m sure some of your congregants hold them in that light, but you can’t make that same mistake. You may not be held to that same standard, especially if you’re not the lead pastor. My Pastor knows my shortcomings, and I know that I can confide in him and receive sound biblical guidance. You should be that safe haven for your pastor as well. Let them know that they can be human around you! As silly as that may sound, it may be exactly what they need at certain moments, just as you and I do. Just as Christ shows every man unending grace, hopefully your Pastor follows that example, and we should as well. Understanding that your Pastor is not a perfect person will free you to learn from them that much more. If you put your Pastor on a pedestal, you’re setting yourself up for failure and missing the opportunity to grow as a leader.
One last word of encouragement: Pray for your Pastors and their families. The enemy in constantly on the prowl for them waiting to devour them and destroy their ministries. The power of prayer cannot be understated!
“We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13