There are many things that can get a pastor into trouble but lets talk about some things that can help them stay out of trouble. Often when we do hit crisis points it is the lack of these investments that creates our largest problem.
Staying close to your board members. Healthy board relationships are all about spending enough time together (individually and corporately) that there is a reservoir of good will, understanding, empathy for one another and the ability to talk honestly with each other. All of that takes time. Wise leaders take the time to get to know their board members, listen carefully to them and develop a heart connection. This includes a pastoral component. A healthy senior leader is always a pastor to his board members.
Staying connected to your staff and support staff. Influence comes from relationship. I am surprised at how many senior leaders do not invest time with their staff, sometimes even key staff - yet they want the loyalty of those same staff. Every investment in relationship is an investment in better understanding, the willingness of staff to go the second mile and a common mission. Senior leaders ignore their staff at their peril because when push comes to shove those who don't have relationship will often not have the support of those staff.
Staying close to Jesus. That may seem obvious but it is not. Many Christian leaders have a professional relationship with Jesus - they serve Him rather than an intimate relationship with Him where they stay with Him. Our spiritual lives are only as good as the last time we spent with our Savior so living in His presence and living in His Scriptures are critical elements. The more time we spend with Him the more we start to look like Him. The less time we spend with Him the less we look like Him.
Missional clarity. People need to know who we are and where we are going and how we are going to get there. Simple - yet often not articulated by senior leaders. In the absence of ministry clarity there are many definitions of clarity which leads to conflict and misunderstanding. People on separate pages cannot be on the same page and end up going different directions. Unless a senior leader facilitates a clear and common direction in collaboration with his board and staff multiple directions emerge which eventually comes back to hurt the senior leader.
Loving people. While senior leaders cannot be the single shepherd, it must be known to the board, staff and congregation that they truly love those they serve. People will forgive a lot if they are loved. If they don't feel loved and cared for they are less likely to overlook those things that irritate them. Oh yes! Loving people reflects the heart of Jesus. The priority is not programs but people and their transformation into His image. That love and concern needs to extend to every generation in the congregation, not just our own generation.
What spells success? It is really pretty simple: More believes and better believers. It is the spiritual transformation of individuals from being a seeker, to a believer and from a believer to a Christ centered life. Pastors who take their eyes off of this central mission of the church allow the peripheral to cloud out the central.
Emotional and relational health. Poor EQ gets in the way of pastors more than anything else. Wise pastors pay a great deal of attention to their own emotional and relational growth so that they become skilled at negotiating relationships, resolving conflict, working synergistically with staff and board and living with transparency and non-defensiveness.
Wise pastors pay close attention to each of these priorities.
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