Each week at 200churches.com we try to focus on one common theme. This week we are talking about the challenge of pastoral leadership – when you are a young pastor. This week’s podcast will answer a listener’s question, which was, “how do you lead people who have been in your church twice as long as you’ve been alive?!” Now, that’s a good question! We will answer that question this Wednesday on Episode 24 of the 200churches Podcast.
Today I want to begin the week talking about common leadership traps that young pastors fall into. These traps are common because, well, many young leaders fall into them. That doesn't mean you are a failed leader, it just means that what you've experienced is common. So rest easy, if you've fallen into any of these traps – congratulations, you’re normal!
Trap #1 – Believing that because you have a position of leadership, your church members should accept and respect you as a leader. Very few leaders will ever get acceptance or respect just by acquiring a position or title. In fact, they might receive just the opposite initially – resistance and skepticism. People want to see what you can do, not what you can say or how good you can look. Looks and words, titles and positions, they’re all meaningless until the action and results start flowing.
Trap #2 – Thinking that because people are excited to have you and are patting you on the back – ministry is going to be easy! There’s a reason they call the first month or two of a ministry position “the honeymoon.” The people patting you on the back are excited about their expectations of what they think you will do. If you fail to meet up to their expectations, they might back you on the back again, only this time, they will be holding a knife! Not literally of course, but figurative. Often the ones cheering your entrance the loudest will call for your ouster the strongest, if expectations are not met. So – no matter what, ministry leadership is not “easy”. Best defense? Under promise and over deliver. That’s a winning formula every time.
Trap #3 – Putting off until tomorrow what you could do today, because you now control your own schedule, and you can! The more you have on your “I will get to it soon” list, the more stress you will experience. Self-discipline is an important quality to leverage if you are going to be able to accomplish your goals and meet your church’s expectations. If you can do it now, get it done, check it off, feel good, and move on! The younger you are, the more apt you are to feel like you've got all kinds of time – trust me, the less you have hanging over your head, the better.
Trap #4 – Resenting push-back on your ideas from church leaders. You toss out an idea to your church board, and they pick it apart like a crow on road kill. You feel rejected, denied, assaulted, and dejected. You take it personally. You become angry. In reality, you want them to pick it apart. You want them to force you to make it better. It’s only when they share ownership in an initiative that they really contribute to your cause. Expect push-back and even be thankful for it, because it will result in better ideas and outcomes.
There you have it, not the “top four”, but just four common leadership traps that young pastors fall into. How about you? What other traps have you dropped into in your 200church pastoral leadership?
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