I know I should lead in identifying and clarifying a distinct purpose for our ministry. I know I should cast that vision. I know I should lead in defining a strategy. I know I should lead in identifying goals and measures and deadlines. I know I should work with my leaders more effectively. I know I should identify and empower and delegate and develop leaders. But...
But you don’t have time? Everyone has the same 24 hours in the day.
But you don’t have the energy? What are you choosing to do instead? Is something else getting in the way and taking all the energy?
But you don’t feel like you can do it all? Then how do others seem to do it?
But that’s just not your gift? Even if you don’t and can be free of this responsibility (which is unwise to do completely), then how are you encouraging others to take the lead and operate in these areas?
But you feel a sense of guilt that you can barely keep up with the amount of pastoral ministry that you already have? If that’s true then how is it that you assume that you should be the only one doing it or doing most of it? Is that what’s really going on?
But you are under pressure by the elders, lay leaders, family, or others (and more) that you should be not only doing all the preaching and teaching but also all the shut in calls, the hospital calls, the pastoral care calls and the evangelism calls? So there is no way that you could ever do even one more thing? In fact you are so overwhelmed that most of the time you feel like you are chasing your tail, that you are a grump at home and in your dreams you imagine you are somewhere else doing something else! Who is causing what with whom?
In fact if you were really honest with yourself then you may even think that you really don’t want any more members because that would add to your workload! Is there some truth to this? Yes, perhaps you may confess it is sometimes true!
But even if you had the time, the energy and the inclination, Perhaps you admit that you really wouldn’t know where to start! Would you buy and read a book to talk about it with them? Would you search the internet for a curriculum and teach something to them? Would you meet with them together, separately or in small groups? Then what would we talk about? What are you supposed to even say?!
This is a problem.
Perhaps you are thinking, some pastors seem to have more of a “knack” at this leadership stuff than others. Some seem to have that force of personality to tell people what to do and not care who they upset or hurt or alienate and so they seem to get this leadership and leadership development thing done more or better than others. But that’s not you. You not only don’t have the knack or the gifts but you don’t want to be “that guy” who is demanding and forceful in getting things done. So you decide that you are okay just the way you are and you seem to settle. Or maybe a more accurate way to put it is that you are “stuck.”
Lift up your hearts! Do not despair! There is hope! There is another way to lead and it can be learned. Leaders aren’t born, they are made. Even if you do not have the “knack” or the spiritual gift of administration or leadership strengths there are plenty of things that can be learned and adapted to your particular skill set that will accomplish what is needed that make you a far better leader. And not like “that guy!”
We shouldn’t be surprised that even though the scriptures say a lot about personal development, spiritual growth and “equip His people for works of service” (Eph 4:14), most of us probably haven’t seen this modeled very well. Sure we know about preaching and teaching but beyond aiming at the head we really don’t know what else to do. Then with regard to leadership, we really are not familiar with mature healthy leadership that does not push and shove and instead supports and inspires and brings into alignment a group of people for a common purpose. We might falsely assume that it is all personality based and require a certain charisma. Not true. We might know it when we see it but we aren’t sure what it is exactly so we can’t easily put our finger on what attitudes, actions and behaviors that really are the difference makers in being a good leader.
Meanwhile it’s true that pastors have all kinds of expectations placed upon them. Members put all kinds of ought’s and should’s on pastors. And pastors often go along with it. The result is the calcification of a culture of spiritual service provider and spiritual consumers. But that is not the way it should be in the church. Yet that is often the model of the church that we see, and it is hard to see or imagine anything else.
What is needed is for pastors to see and experience leadership development themselves. No, not a class. No, not being told what to do and expect changed behavior. No, not being pressured with arm twisting accountability. Not at all. What I am talking about is something different. It is a partner who helps you to think, who helps you to process, to decide what to do that is helpful, in the moment, within your context, making adjustments that make sense for you. It is something that happens where you are motivated and when you are ready. Then as you experience it, you can begin to grow yourself, shift attitudes and behaviors and then replicate it and model it for others.
Does such a thing even exist? Yes. It’s called leadership coaching. Such people are an invisible thinking partner for pastors, coming alongside for ministry results. There are any number of them out there and I am privileged to be among them.
Note: Keep an eye out for more information about “Whole Church Coaching” where we combine coaching for the pastor and one or two key leaders then model leadership training that transforms and personalize coaching for new leaders.
Scott specializes in leadership coaching, consulting, coach and leadership training. He is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church and others as an independent contractor. Listen to The Coaching Leader podcast and contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com
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