Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Weight of Pastoring

I've now been a Senior Pastor for around five years and an Associate Pastor for about eight. It's a little different for me in that I actually was a Senior Pastor for five years before becoming an Associate in a much larger church. It gives me an appreciation for what the Senior is going through and also makes me defensive in His favor.

A year or so ago I had someone at the church respond to me privately regarding a recent church issue with "I know you don't agree with that decision". I responded with "I do as far as you know!". I firmly believe that it is my duty to the Senior Pastor to support his vision and his decisions as if they were my own. I can (and should) discuss them with Him if I have concerns, and attempt to persuade and influence in private where I can, but once the course is set it should look to those who I lead as if the decision were part mine.

Many Associate Pastors and other leaders aspire to be the Senior guy and will often discuss the styles, decisions, vision of the Senior in relation to "the way I would do it" or "the way it should be done". I suppose this is somewhat normal... some of these Associates will likely be a Lead Pastor at some point in their ministry... but the gifts, talents and abilities that a minister has cannot even begin to balance the scales against "calling" and "authority". It would be easy to look across the desk and think "I can teach as good" or "I can lead as well"... but the thing virtually nobody who hasn't been there can comprehend is the "weight" of the office. It can be an overpowering burden and many Senior Pastors lead very isolated, lonely lives.

I think of it a little like the football commentary that "you can't coach speed". An outmanned team has prepared against everything the stronger team can do... and they think they are ready... and then the stronger team comes on the field and simply outruns everyone else on the field. The lesser team technically knows what to do but until they stepped on the field could not comprehend the sheer speed disparity.

An Associate minister may have the knowledge, skills and abilities... but until they step on the field in the Lead role they will not be able to comprehend the "weight" disparity.

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