Leadership has so many different aspects to it. This week I’m going to talk about church leadership and more particularly the office of being a pastor. Being a pastor is something I’ve done for over 20 years. I’ve learned over those years what being a pastor is and what being a pastor isn’t. Being a pastor isn’t singing on a stage or producing a CD, being a pastor isn’t preaching from a pulpit, being a pastor isn’t making money from the body of Christ, being a pastor isn’t traveling the world and taking selfies. Being a pastor is caring for people, being a pastor is being invested in the lives of others, being a pastor is helping someone who has fallen down. I guess I’m writing this for my own sanity and clarification because I’ve been around so many different “pastors” who have done everything under the sun except actually pastor someone. So maybe this post is cathartic but then again maybe it will help a pastor out there become focused on the call.
Please hear my heart, I love pastors. I travel the nation helping pastors grow their churches. So I’m not anti-pastor, I’m anti-BS. I’m actually allergic to BS. I have a handful of real, true friends who are real, true pastors. I’ve seen these guys get down in the trenches and help people. I’ve seen these guys get down in muck and actually pull me out of it! Pastors are some of my favorite people when they are actually pastoring. Pastoring people isn’t hard, it just takes compassion, communication, and selflessness. These aren’t the only three, but pretty important three.
The word compassion literally means to “suffer with.” Being a pastor means that you not only see what people are going through, you involve yourself with that issue. You actually step into the drama and trauma and walk with people through the pain of life. Just sympathizing with someone isn’t compassion. Having compassion means you are taking action and lending a helping hand or being a should to cry on.
Recently I worked with a “pastor” who had awful communication. Every communication was done in text. How pitiful. How weak. I look at the situation and think, “You have the opportunity to invest in a life-giving relationship and you choose to not do it.” So sad. As leaders we have the opportunity to invest in people all the time. We can’t become so self-absorbed that we miss the reason we are leaders… people. That’s right, people are the reason and the object of our leadership. If we use people as a resource then we aren’t leaders, we are opportunists who use people as a means to an end. If we become so into our little castle and we forget we are building a kingdom, then we’ve missed the point!
Being selfless means that we are thinking beyond our own little castle. I’ve known some church leaders to be so stinkin’ self interested in their own thing, they forget that there is a dying lost world going to hell all around them! They can’t see past their own little project. I sometimes wonder if they are producing products to help people or to pad their own pocket. If you’ve not sat down and had a lunch or coffee with someone because your schedule won’t allow it, then you aren’t pastoring people. Making time and inconvenience for others is part of being selfless.
The true litmus test of if you are really pastoring people is Jesus. Jesus invested in people who could never pay him back. People who couldn’t do anything for him and actually some who would do Him harm. The woman at the well, the Roman soldier, Peter, Judas… these people could do nothing for Jesus. Will you take the time to invest in someone who will leave your church in a year? When they leave, will you still take the time to care for them with a phone call or lunch appointment? Investing in people will test our motive. Are we investing in them for our benefit or theirs?
Jesus did this. He set the bar pretty high. It’s up to us to at least try and reach for it.