Called to Pastor and Lead with Excellence

Pastors can quickly become ineffective in their ministry if they are not clear about their gifts, skills, personality dimensions, strengths and weaknesses.  Congregations tend to believe that a pastor should be a great preacher, great comforter, great administrator, great with the youth and children, great with nurturing, great with teaching and just about anything else that goes on in the life of a congregation.  This expectation is unrealistic.  God has given each person unique gifts, passions and abilities.  Attempting to be great outside of that realm is frustrating to anyone in any profession.  How should we deal with these conflicting multiple expectations? 

  1. Take the time to prayerfully discern your call.  Not all ministry takes place in the office of pastor.  Being clear about your call will help to eliminate some of the frustration. Community capacity building and social justice ministries go hand in hand but you do not have to be a pastor to fulfill your call in this ministry.
  2. Be clear about the unique gifts and personality that you bring to a congregation.  Congregations go through cycles and a different ministry skill set is necessary for the congregation to thrive depending on the season.  New churches need pastors who are entrepreneurial and relational. Healthy churches need nurturing pastors with depth in identifying weak ministry systems and strengthening leaders to maintain their healthy behavior.  Revitalizing churches need visionary pastors willing to restructure, challenge and build relationships without taking the criticism personally. Older congregations need a pastor with chaplain qualities able to walk with people through quality of life and end of life issues. A pastor who is not clear about his or her ministry skill set will be frustrated trying to live in the wrong paradigm and this will also cause anxiety throughout the congregation.  The congregation will have unmet and unfulfilled needs while striving to live out their DNA that is active within the life cycle of the congregation.
  3. Work on your strengths and build ministry teams in the area where you are weak with people who are uniquely gifted with the passion to fulfill the demands of the ministry. Take your top three areas of strength and commit to excellence in these areas.  Simultaneously you must develop lay leaders to fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.  If there is not a clear understanding of team ministry within the congregation this will be difficult.  If team ministry is not inherent in the DNA of a congregation then if must be grafted into the DNA.
  4. Prioritize in private but plan in public.  Once you know the areas that you are going to focus on developing through prayer and consultation with your elders then you plan for the ministry shifts, changes, realignments and team deployments in consultation with your
    Vision Team or Leadership Council.

Being a results oriented pastor of excellence is contrary to most pastoral paradigms today.  Many congregations, especially in mainline denominations, want pastors to be great generalist but resist their pastor excelling in one area and empowering lay people to fill in the gaps. I think that this is contrary to the teaching found in Ephesians 4:10-13. 

10 And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, 11 filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher 12 to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, 13 until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.    The Message

Called to Pastor
Called to Lead
Called to Excellence

Pastor William T Chaney Jr

West Baltimore UMC

5130 Greenwich Ave
Baltimore, MD 21229
wbumc.pastor@verizon.net

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