In 2000 I became a senior pastor for the first time and it was much harder than I thought it could ever be! Then I enjoyed being on staff at LifeChurch.tv for four years where I led small group ministries. Just over a year ago I went back to the senior pastorate when I accepted a position at New Life Bible Church in Norman, Oklahoma. I thought to myself, “It’ll be easier this time. I’ve got more experience and I learned a TON about leadership at LifeChurch.”
Indeed, it’s been a fast and rewarding year. Although God is blessing our church, I’m reminded once again that being a senior pastor is harder than I thought it would be. Over the last year, I’ve been reminded of 12 practices that I must never forget and that I must discipline myself to leverage:
1. Don’t Forget The Personal Touch
It’s important to make sure that I stay rooted by connecting with real people in real time. I must shake hands, write hand-written notes, take volunteers to lunch, return phone calls, and value people’s time. There’s no substitute for valuing people and being personal.
2. Do What You Do…Better
I must resist the urge to lead our church to be a “full-service church.” We do better to focus our time, energy and resources on doing what we already do, only better. To a great extent, adding programs is futile when we can make massive improvements to existing ministries and systems.
Financial challenges will always exist in a growing church. I do well to remember that financial constraints force me to think creatively. More importantly, they stretch my faith and make me seek God more earnestly.
4. Think Long-Term
I remind myself daily that I should not overestimate what can be accomplished in a year and underestimate what can be accomplished in a decade. Patience, steadiness, and focus will yield great results in time. Impatience and distractibility lead to frustration and stagnation.
5. Do Less
I must do less. This does not mean I work less, but that I do fewer things. I must delegate often. I must delegate responsibility rather than just tasks. When I don’t do these things I spread myself too thin and show that I don’t trust my team. I must live by my “stop doing list” as much (or more) than my “to do list.” In fact, this is why I haven’t blogged in over a month. I had to put it aside for a while in order to be better at other things for a season.
Re-vision is different than revision. When the people I lead stray from the vision it is not because the vision needs to be revised. It’s because the vision needs to be revisited. Vision leaks and people easily lose sight of the goal. I must regularly point our church back to our vision in order to keep us on the path God has laid out before us.
7. Invest In Your Team
The greatest resource in our church is the people. The greatest way I serve the people I lead is to invest in them and make them better. I must challenge people to improve while believing that they can and will. I must believe in the people I lead and spur them on to greatness. I am at my leadership best when I help my team accomplish things they didn’t believe they could accomplish.
8. Handle Criticism
I will be criticized so I must handle well. First, I must always seek (and listen to) constructive criticism from those who love me and want the best for me. Second, I must answer critics only if I have information that will change their perception and they are open to change. Third, I must shake off the criticism of people who are wounded and/or overly critical.
9. Be Weird
I must never live to please the people looking in on my ministry bubble. They are not the audience I must satisfy. I must live to please only Jesus. If that means I look weird, so be it. If being debt free, taking my wife on family-goal-setting retreats, setting aside one night a week for family activities, and saying “no” to many things that are “normal” means I’m weird, GOOD. In the words of my friend and pastor, Craig Groeschel, “Normal isn’t working…be weird.”
10. Be Yourself
I can’t be anyone else, so I might as well be the best me I can be. I’m a Star Wars fanatic and that’s okay. It’s better to be myself wearing a Star Wars T-shirt and a blazer on Sunday morning than to try being someone else by dressing like a rock star. People value authenticity because it opens them up to trust rather than making them suspicious.
11. Don’t Be Afraid To Talk About Money
Money isn’t a taboo subject; it’s a part of life. I must always be willing to talk about it openly and honestly. If I neglect talking about money because of fear, I fail to teach the full-counsel of Scripture. Jesus talks more in the New Testament about money than he spoke about Heaven and Hell combined. I do well to follow his example.
12. Listen To God And Do What He Says
This it the last and best practice on my list! I am always better when I spend abundant time with my Heavenly Father. I must stay plugged into Him through personal Bible reading, prayer and fasting. The greatest skill in leadership is listening to His voice and obeying it. Everything else is pointless without this practice as my ultimate foundation.
These are my top 12 indispensable practices as a pastor. What would you add to the list?
Source: CHURCH LEADERS