4 Ways to Appreciate Your Pastor

It’s that time of year. If you’ve grown up in the church, or have been on staff in a church for a long time, you know that every October Christian bookstores stock extra pastor appreciation cards and gifts for your senior pastor. Church staff members are taking to social media to thank and appreciate their senior pastor publicly for their hard work and sacrificial love. Cards, gifts, and Tweets are all excellent ways to acknowledge your pastor this month. That said, I don’t think we should stop there, and here are a few other ways to show your senior leader just how much you love and appreciate who they are and what they do:

1. Pray for your pastor(s).
As staff members and pastors, we pray a lot. We open and close our meetings in prayer, we pray with people who are sick or in need of hope, we pray for ourselves and our families often, but we don’t pray for our pastor enough. Praying for our senior pastor, his family, and the vision God has given is the greatest way we can appreciate him. I’ve also learned that the more I pray for my pastor, the more connected I feel to his vision.

Praying for our senior pastor(s) helps us as much as it helps them.

2. Protect your pastor’s family time.
Do you know when your pastor’s day off is? You should. Save that email or text message for the following day, or better yet, add it to your notes for your next meeting. There’s a culture in ministry right now of everyone protecting their day off at all costs; this is healthy, but we should be as determined to protect other team members days off too.

Show your pastor appreciation by honoring his day off and better preparing for your one-on-one meetings.

3. Grow yourself spiritually and guard your soul.
Being a part of church staff is an incredible privilege, and as with any privilege, there is a great responsibility. As a staff leader or pastor, we feel deeply responsible for the spiritual health of those we lead, but we are chiefly responsible for our personal growth and soul health first. Maintaining personal holiness and intentionally setting up guardrails is essential for longevity in ministry.

If we want to appreciate our pastor, we must keep growing as followers of Christ and guard the integrity of our soul.

4. Care and pastor the people they have entrusted to you.
No pastor wants to hear that the people in the church are not being cared for or followed up with promptly. Each staff member is an extension of the senior pastor’s love, especially when it comes to shepherding the flock under our care. Being responsive to people’s needs and genuinely concerned about their spiritual condition is for every leader, not just the senior leader.

The easiest way we can appreciate our pastor is by doing our job with passion and excellence.

Our pastors and senior leaders deserve all the love and respect we can give them, every day, not just in the month of October. Let’s show them how much we appreciate them by praying for them daily, protecting their time, growing ourselves spiritually, and by caring for those entrusted to our care.


One Way to Undermine Your Authority as a Leader

I grew up in a home with four sisters and one brother of which I was the youngest. I had very limited authority as a child in our home, and my siblings knew this. If that wasn’t enough, they also knew how to leverage my parents’ power to have greater control over my life. I heard these kind of phrases all the time: “Mom said…” or “Dad said…”. It took me a long time to figure out just what my brother and sisters were doing; they were using those phrases to get me to act, or not act, in certain ways for their benefit. Once I figured out what was going on, I realized my parents didn’t say those things, or at least not in the way they were telling me they did. The same concept is at play in churches and organizations today.

Too many ministry leaders use and abuse the position of their senior leaders with the phrase, “Pastor _________ said…”. Whenever we begin or end our meetings with a phrase that attempts to strike fear or accountability using our senior leader’s name, we do so at the expense of our authority. Senior leaders get blamed for a lot because of this approach, and what trickles down to our volunteers is motivation out of fear. As leaders within our churches, we need to learn how to execute our senior leaders’ visions without always tying their name or position to the job we need to get done.

The Apostle Paul modeled the control of authority in leadership for us in ‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭2:6‬ ‭NIV‬: “We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority.”

So how do we do this?

We must lead with confidence.
Our leaders have placed us in roles of influence because they believe we have the skillset to lead people from here to there, not to lead using their name as our final authority. We shouldn’t have to preface or conclude every meeting with statements that our senior pastor is asking this. We should have the confidence in our leadership position to carry out what they’ve asked us to do. This confidence is not in the title we have, but rather in our position to serve our senior leaders. If we have to use our title or the names of our leaders to get things done, we must reevaluate our ability to influence and lead effectively. If you find yourself using that strategy over and over again, make a commitment to lead with the confidence your leaders have placed in you. Replace “Pastor said…” with “here’s what we’re going to do together to accomplish this vision.”

We must lead with humility.
As leaders, we don’t always make the right decisions or say the right things. We live in a culture that says confidence is all you need to lead, but Jesus taught a different way. The greatest leaders are those who have learned the power of serving others, and humility. We must learn to lead with humility, serving with and for the people we lead. We should take full responsibility when our teams drop the ball, and give credit away for every success we experience. Most people want to serve under a leader who is confident in the direction the team is going, and humble enough to own the mistakes along the way. Replace “Pastor said…” with “we’re going to do this together.”

Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. Simon Sinek

Leading with authority requires confidence in where your organization is going, and the humility to help it get there. Don’t undermine the trust your leadership has in you, lead with confident humility.

The Simplest Way to Develop Leaders and Strengthen Your Team

Everywhere I look I see books, articles, tweets, and posts on leadership development in the church. “Leadership development” seem to be buzzwords in the church that are not going anywhere fast, especially in the multisite context. Everyone is looking to deepen their leadership bench with worship leaders, student pastors, campus pastors, and the like. The problem is, few have found a model or system that works in their church context.

I recently heard Pastor Chris Hodges, from the Church of the Highlands, say that he has his next 33 campus pastors ready at any moment to launch a campus. What? 33 leaders developed and ready in their pipeline? And my friends from 12Stone Church in Atlanta, GA take leadership development serious at their church through the MAPS process. Dan Reiland has written a lot about their process on his blog, and you can read more about that here. What if your church isn’t as prepared as Highlands, or as intentional as 12Stone? Don’t wait any longer or blame anyone on your staff. Start with your team, get a simple plan, and use the Apostle Paul’s model.

The Apostle Paul has a simple pattern that we see in his leadership of Timothy in the New Testament. I saw five stages of leadership development from Paul:

Stage 1: Watch Me Do It.
In Acts 16:1-3 we read of Paul’s invitation of Timothy to join him on his missionary journeys. We can’t develop leaders if we are not intentionally inviting them to watch us. Who have you invited?

Stage 2: Do It With Me.
In Acts 16:4 we read that Paul and Timothy worked together in ministry. Timothy is included in six of Paul’s New Testament letters, because Paul never did ministry alone. Who are you inviting?

Stage 3: You Do It, I Watch.
In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, we read his encouragement and edification to lead by example. Paul was constantly offering feedback and support to Timothy. Who are you watching, coaching, and positively critiquing to grow in their personal ministry skills?

Stage 4: You Do It.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, we read his admonition that it was now Timothy’s time to begin developing other leaders: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2). Who are you releasing?

Stage 5: Follow-Up & Invite Them Back
Paul closes his second letter to Timothy was a request that Timothy would come back and visit him. Paul had a special relationship with Timothy, and he wanted that relationship to continue even after Timothy was fully trained. Developing others is a tremendous privilege and responsibility of every leader in ministry, and these relationships often last a lifetime. Who are you investing in that you would want to know in 15 years from now?

Leadership development must be intentional, but it doesn’t have to be institutional.

Look at those God has entrusted to your care, determine their stage in the process of development, and begin moving them forward. When it comes to developing leaders, you don’t need a program or a pipeline, you just need to be proactive and purposeful.

I’d love to hear how you’re developing leaders in your multisite context, comment below.

The Responsibility Every Multisite Leader Has

In the world of multisite ministry, most pastors and leaders wear multiple hats. The student pastor helps with adults classes and groups, children’s workers help with administrative tasks during the week, worship leaders look after the care needs of the campus, and the campus pastor jumps in wherever needed. Regardless of the position, or how many of them you hold, there is one thing every multisite leader must do, and the best multisite leaders know this. They know they have one job to execute at the campus level, and it may not be what you think, and it unquestionably requires a lot of hard work.

So what’s the job? What’s the role of every multisite leader? It’s to implement the vision of their senior leader.

Multisite leaders are vision implementors, not vision creators.

Sounds strong, right? Don’t get me wrong, we can be creative with the implementation of the vision, but we hit roadblocks when we try to create a vision different than the one God has given to our leaders. As implementors, we have to be sure that we fully understand, embrace and internalize our senior leader’s vision, because before we can ever implement something we have to own it, heart and soul. If we haven’t, our team and leaders will know right away that we are not fully bought into the idea and everyone wants to follow an authentic leader who is truly inspired by a clear vision.

Too many times, multisite leaders rush to the implementation phase without internalizing the true vision and reason behind the idea, or philosophy of their leadership. To avoid this mistake requires slowing down the rush to impress, asking further questions to understand better, and spending adequate time in personal prayer before public action. When we do these things, the vision takes root in our heart and mind long before we ever begin the implementation process.

The tension is the innate desire of every leader to create vision, rather than implement it. I’m not saying we can’t create as leaders, but rather what we create must flow from the source of our leader’s vision. Our leaders are counting on us to help them establish their God-given vision and not create a new vision altogether.

The easiest way to implement vision is to know what is most important to your leaders right now. In our church, the most important thing to our senior pastors right now is to see the majority of our church connected in groups. To copy the words of Andy Stanley, we believe “circles are better than rows.” Our leaders want to see the people of our church connected in a biblical community where encouragement, scripture, prayer and serving others is taking place. So my role, and everyone’s role on our team right now, is to champion the “groups” culture of our church.

But before we could ever implement this initiative with authentic passion, we had to internalize the reason behind this vision. After hearing from our leaders the why behind what a healthy “groups” culture could mean for our church, and further understanding the vision, we’re all working to implement groups in our spheres of influence. We still have our typical job responsibilities, and groups has become one of the ways we execute those tasks. It’s not just one department’s job; it’s everyones job – we all own the vision.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how you internalize and implement your senior’s leaders vision.