A pastor friend of mine and I were hanging out for a weekend at his church. Justin and I loved the time together. A good church with a rich history.
After reviewing the church, groups, staff, board, and Sunday services with my Secret Shopper service, I offered him a very comprehensive review of what I saw and what I thought he and the church needed to move forward.
One of the recommendations was to do A-B-C. A-B-C was very doable. It just took a small amount of manual labor that two or three guys could do in an hour or so.
Doing A-B-C was going to dramatically improve the feel of the service on Sunday. So, Justin did A-B-C.
However, he did it wrong. I gave him the specifics on how he should do A-B-C. It wasn’t rocket science, but he did need to give attention to detail. He did it right in some respects, but he absolutely blew it in another.
You and I have seen it for years, but this was the first time I could put this incident in words. Justin did the right thing … he just did it wrong.
[To address this very issue, I am offering a complimentary copy of my second book I wrote, Right Turns, to any reader of this blog. All I ask is that you cover the shipping. Right Turns will help you make right decisions and do them RIGHT!]
It was amazing to me that Justin could do so much of what I asked, but because he did not pay attention to full detail, he technically got the job done, but he ended up doing it wrong, resulting in unintended consequences. That did not need to happen … but it did!
This experience reinforced in me the need to talk with pastors and church leaders about the intangibles of growing professionally in their roles as leaders.
So, how about if I take the experience with Justin and see how we can mitigate these mistakes of leadership moving forward.
1. Pay attention to the main things.
Justin gave lip service to things like prayer, time in the Word, preaching, etc. When I talked with him about improvement in these areas, he sort of did the, “Yeah, yeah, I’ve got those things.” He needed to stop long enough to pay attention to the main things.
2. Pay attention to the small things.
In this case, Justin didn’t pay attention to a small detail that had huge consequences. It’s one thing to do A-B-C, but if you forget to interface it with D-E-F, you’ll lose. Watch every detail. When you’re done planning, you and your team need to give a critical eye to dotting all the “i’s” and crossing all the “t’s” … all of them.
3. Seek models of pastoral professionalism.
This can sound somewhat unspiritual, but the fact is no pastor knows it all. God has given us the Body of Christ for iron to sharpen iron. I strongly encourage you to study the ministry and leadership life of a pastor that leads a church many times larger than your own. You need to pay attention to the way they make decisions and how it plays out for them.
4. Always change.
Justin may have thought he was very adept at change. However, I can tell you he was caught in a very traditional church that he had been unable to move to the realities of reaching people for Jesus in 2017 and beyond. What he defined as change really wasn’t. It may have been for the older saints at the church, but Justin was not really changing, nor was the church. Got to change … all the time!
My encouragement to every pastor and church leader is to give serious attention to these four things. Always be prepared to grow professionally.
Yes, it is a good thing for pastors and church leaders to grow in this way.
Yes, it is a spiritual journey … and it is incumbent upon us to grow ourselves as directed by the Lord.
Justin could have made a phenomenal decision that would have catapulted the church forward. However, because he would not give time to growing professionally as a pastor he ended up doing the right thing but doing it wrong … making a blunder he didn’t have to make.
In your case, the slate is clean for you to move forward in your own personal growth as a pastor. I’d love for you to have my book, Right Turns. It will help you think in terms of “growing professionally” as you and the church move forward.
Let the journey begin …