Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Leadership Lessons: Part 1

I've decided to devote some of my personal study time to examining biblical leadership. I long to be the best leader I can be and to help others grow in that area along the way. I thought I might share some of my leadership lessons as I journey through my study.

I'll start with what I like to call the Jethro Principle. If you read Exodus 18 in the Old Testament you find Moses (the leader of the Israelite people at the time) killing himself in the name of ministry. From sun up to sun down he found himself settling disputes among the people and helping them to determine God's will for their lives. All good things, but he was spreading himself dangerously thin.

Enter stage left - Jethro, Moses' father-in-law. He quickly sees what Moses is doing and says, "This is not good. It's not good for you and it's not good for the people." Jethro instructs Moses to begin delegating some of the work load. Moses was advised to select capable (that's a key word) men who could begin to lighten the load. They would take care of the bulk of the work and Moses would settle only the big issues. In verse 23 Jethro tells Moses, "If you do this...you will be able to stand the strain."

In case you haven't figured it out yet, ministry is very strenuous and I see far too many church leaders who are killing themselves in the name of ministry. They're working all day, every day at the sacrifice of their family and overall health. A lot of this has to do with the nature of their job. They realize that eternity is on the line, lives are on the line, marriages are on the line and they feel this incredible pressure to do all they can, when they can and therefore many feel as if they're chasing their tails.

The other cause I find at work in the church is the unrealistic expectations for pastors and church leaders. In all too many churches, pastors are expected to be at every hospital call, every church event, every service and in turn the leader feels spread very thin and frankly, "good for nothing". They're burning it at both ends all in the name of ministry.

And if Jethro were around today he would probably stand up and say, "Wait a minute! What you are doing is not good."

Allow me to speak to two groups of people as I'm certain both groups are readers of An Open Doerr:

Pastors & Church Leaders
Learn to delegate portions of your ministry to capable leaders and begin to share the load. You can't be super pastor and besides, you're killing your health and your family in the process. Not only will this free you up to do the most important things and the things you're good at, you'll also be investing in other leaders and therefore allowing them to blossom in their new found role. Ephesians 4:12 says our work is to prepare God's people for works of service, not to do it all ourself. Begin to embrace the Jethro principle.

The Church
Re-examine the expectations you have for your pastor(s). Are they legitimate? Are they realistic? This may help. Consider the needs of your family on a personal level. Now multiply those needs times the size of your respective church - 100, 250, 500, etc. Is it realistic to believe this one person (and remember they are only human) can legitimately meet the spiritual and emotional needs of that many people? Let me put it another way. There's no reason your pastor should have to take his only day off to make his fourth hospital call of the week, all the while folding Sunday's bulletin in the passenger seat:) Give him a break. Help your pastor. Here's an idea. Ask him what consumes the bulk of his week and see if there is any way you and others can lighten his load.

Before you think I'm griping, allow me to say that God has blessed me during the two ministries that I've had. Both Antioch and Greenville seem to get it. I never had unrealistic expectations placed on me at AMCC and I don't feel them present at GCC. I consider myself blessed in this regards but feel obligated to speak up as I see too many minister friends killing themselves for the sake of ministry. It's time that we all see the value of the Jethro principle.


Anonymous said...

The key word is capable. A pastor must use capable Elders and Deacons,a good staff will help lighten the load, keeping pastors from burning out. A burned out pastor is not a pretty sight.

Jennifer said...

As the pastor of GCC AND the leader of our family, I am so thankful that Chad maintains such a careful balance in his primary leadership roles. I know he probably learned a long time ago that if he wasn't purposeful about carving out time to be with his family that it just wouldn't happen. Another thing I might add is that not only is he purposeful about wisely allocating his time, he is also purposeful with how he spends his time. The vast majority of his time away from the church, he is interacting with the kids, helping out with household chores, talking to and listening to me, and being resourceful on the computer in relation to ministry. Being out of balance is never a good thing; it hinders productivity. (By the way Chad didn't pay me to say any of this :) )