NOTE: The below letter is not specific to any one pastor or a specific situation, rather, it stems from years of being a youth and associate pastor, a lay person in the church and now an elder.
I admire you. You have chosen and been called to such a challenging position. Thank you. Though Hallmark likely created it, Pastor Appreciation Month is not often recognized the way that it should be and you’re not appreciated nearly enough.
You pour many hours into the Scriptures preparing your weekly messages but because you seek to meet the needs of your flock your study time is often cut short. You’re called upon to counsel, you’re asked to perform weddings and you’re expected to attend way too many fellowship lunches. You need to be at too many meetings and the one that you miss will NOT go unnoticed. I don’t envy your position, but I’m thankful you’re in it.
I hope you sense the sincerity of my above words. 99% of the Sr./Lead Pastors I have dealt with in my roles fit the above descriptions and I believe you need to hear more words of encouragement because your job is extremely difficult. I have a different form of encouragement for you as well… an encouragement to consider doing a few things I believe will help you and the people you care for. These suggestions may seem elementary, but please examine your leadership style and ask yourself and/or others if these things are true of you.
Collaborate: Your leadership is needed, but ownership in the values and convictions for the church will rarely come from your decree, rather by the discoveries of your leadership team (staff, elders, lay volunteers, etc.). Don’t tell them the direction, collaborate on the values and then lead them in the collective vision.
Develop: Steward your staff and your lay leadership well. The Rich Young Ruler walked away sad because he could not give away his riches to others in need. I believe a number of pastors would walk away sad if Jesus asked you to give away some of your gifted people (staff/leaders). Take the time (and allow your other pastors to take the time) to develop others under you with full knowledge that God may call them to be pastors, leaders and influencers to others elsewhere.
Get Unchurched: You spend 99% of your time with people who are or who think they are Christians. Many under your care have no idea how to bring Jesus into an everyday conversation. It won’t matter what you tell your people to say until they know that you’re being intentional about it too! I challenge you to fall in love with the lost, not just fall in love with the idea of the lost!
Again, I’m thankful for you and believe in you. My simple hope is that you’ll believe in us (your staff, your leaders and your congregants) a little more. Believe that we have good ideas and let us give them. Believe that we can be developed and give us the chance to mess up a bit and then catch us as we stumble. And last, believe in us enough to do life with us. Join us and set the example when it comes to loving and spending time with people who don’t yet know Jesus!