Leadership requires initiative. Healthy relationships require initiative. A pastor without initiative will struggle to feed sheep. In John 21, Jesus gives Peter the three-fold command to “Feed my sheep.” The context of this command is the question of love. Pastor, do you love Jesus? Then you will take the initiative to feed his sheep.
You’re the leader. You must take the initiative, especially with relationships in the church. Many pastors rigorously protect their study time in God’s Word. The same intensity applies to personal relationships.
Will you intimately know every person in your congregation? Of course not. Neither will you know every nuance of every passage in Scripture. But you still make the time to study a specific passage for your sermon preparation. The same initiative that applies to the study of Scripture also applies to relationships in the church. Why not also pick a family a week (or a month) to get to know better? Pastors who take the initiative build more relational bridges in the congregation.
Don’t wait for others to invite you to a meal. You should reach out to people. Invite them to Sunday lunches with your family. Have members over for dinner at your home once or twice a month. Meet key leaders for early coffee or breakfast before work. Don’t have an agenda at these meals. Simply get to know people. It will build relational capital. More importantly, it’s biblical.
When you have an awkward moment with someone, call them. Pastors use a lot of words, especially lead pastors. You speak, preach, pray and guide meetings. The sheer volume of words used by pastors means people will misunderstand you, and you will unknowingly misstate your intentions. When you have an awkward moment with someone, call them. Take the initiative to clarify what was spoken. Don’t assume people will figure it out or forget. Clarity is critical to the health of relationships, and you have to take the lead to obtain it.
When you don’t know someone, introduce yourself. Wallflowers are not leaders. Pastors do not have the luxury of hiding in the corners of crowded rooms. Take every opportunity to make an introduction with someone you do not know.
Be the main greeter before and after worship services. Worship services are the perfect opportunities to build relationships. The majority of the church tends to be on campus for worship. Handshakes, hugs and smiles are quick but powerful reminders that you care for people.
Text people when you pray for them. This one is simple. When you pray for someone, take the extra 10 seconds to tell them! Your initiative could brighten someone’s day at just the moment needed.
Hand-write thank you notes. Write a few notes a week to people in the church who went above and beyond with their service. Five notes a week will yield 260 personal communications a year—many of which your congregation will keep in a desk drawer or box only to be pulled out on occasion and read again. The initiative to write these notes speaks volumes about your passion to care for people.
When someone implies they are struggling, ask them about it. I’ve noticed few people will explicitly state they are struggling. Usually, they speak in a couched tone or with veiled words. When you can tell they are hurting, ask them about it. Rarely will people be offended. In fact, their reserved posture is more of a cry for help than it is a desire to hide something.
To love Jesus is to feed His sheep. This effort takes initiative, especially within the context of relationships in the church.
This article originally appeared here.