How do leaders get shaped? Are they born or made?
This week in my life has been a lot about leadership. For school I am reading a book called A Work of Heart by Reggie McNeal. He says that leaders are not planned but prepared – we don’t plan to become pastors, but God prepares us to become spiritual leaders. Why, then, do so many pastors lead ineffectively or burn out? McNeal’s book is about the heart of the leader, and understanding that God has given pastors their leadership not only to bless others, but also to grow them closer to Himself. This makes me wonder – is this how our churches see their pastors? Is it the goal of our churches that our pastors not only lead well and have strong personal and family lives, but that their very ministry helps them grow closer to Christ?
(Sometimes we wonder what our pastors are even doing during the week. I get this question from time to time, so I thought I should just take a minute to tell you! I spend about 10-15 hours in prayer, sermon preparation, and study. Another 15-20 hours is for meetings – mainly leadership development and teaching, but also in counseling and prayer with people. About 10 hours is given to creative communication, planning for meetings and long term vision for the church. I spend about 5-10 hours on calling, office work and administrative tasks.)
This week I also got a chance to lead the Team Leaders Connection at Covenant Grove. This is where we gather all the Team Leaders in ministry at our church, share stories, pray for each other, and learn more about becoming strong, godly leaders. What a great meeting – so much energy, and so much fun being in a room of leaders! We got to talk about how God is working to not only grow the actual ministry, but also the people serving on the ministry team, AND the leader of the team, too. All 3 of these dynamics move towards the vision – as God takes the gifts and shortcomings of those serving and the “beautiful mess” of ministry happens – overflowing with the love of Christ. When it is not about control, but God’s power – amazing things happen.
Can someone serve in church leadership and not shipwreck their faith? How can it be more than about the tasks we do for Christ, but also about the growth He is making in our hearts as we lead for Him – and with Him?
My guess is that we already know the answers to these questions, or can figure them out with some thought. (So, no, I’m not going to write my answers out here!) Most of all, I think we need to keep our eyes on the bigger prize. In every area of our lives God loves us and is trying to shape our hearts closer to Him – home, work, alone, AND ministry. Ministry can shipwreck your faith – that is not God’s plan. Ministry can grow your faith to whole new levels – if we can keep our eyes on Him, and see the work He is doing in our hearts.
One more thing – I LOVE doing ministry at Covenant Grove Church. I HAVE grown closer to Christ while I have served here, even with the incredible needs that are in the lives of our church and the people we are trying to reach. I have a great group of friends and support in the church, and God has really challenged me, and grown my heart. I love that at this church, now my home church, I can not only be a pastor, but first be a Christian, and grow closer to our God of love.