A few lessons I have learned this week, and in the weeks leading up to this week, about what we as pastors and leaders do in church:
1. Start well: when you are just starting off in a new setting or a new position, don’t expect to make changes immediately. Remember, you’ve not lived the same story they have. You don’t know the sensitive spots. You don’t know the inner workings of the organization, the leaders, the personalities. Resist the temptation to be their superhero, and you’ll win their respect in the long run.
2. Hold up 1: Think about what you are saying before you open your mouth. I am often tempted to speak to a situation before I know the whole story. I have been confronted by people who attacked me, my character and my work before they had the whole story. Again, resist the urge to be a superhero. People don’t need us to save the day. They need us to care for them. And personal attacks don’t fix problems, they only create more.
3. Hold up 2: Cecil Sherman told the story of moving out of a town after serving as pastor for many years. As he and his wife approached the neighboring county, he pulled the car over, got out and shook out his head. From that point forward, he didn’t know who was cheating on whom, who had stolen what, where the problems were. As a leader, and particularly as a pastor, we hear many, many stories of the personal lives of our people. Treat those stories with respect. And if the story is not confidential, take care that the story is not misrepresented as it is passed from one person to the next.
I find it ironic that each of these points dealt with maintaining humility and avoiding a superhero mentality. I heard someone say last week that love is not the absence of hate: it is the absence of selfishness. As a pastor and a leader, it is vital that we maintain that humble nature in all we do. In Micah 6:8,
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously” (The Message)