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Living a Life of Leadership, 5 Responsibilities of Senior Pastors Who Get It

Living a life of leadership is more important than having the title “leader.” Those who are called “leader” but do not live a life worthy of having the tag often find themselves spending much of their time in political maneuvering. Because they lack “followers,” in order to accomplish their agenda, they are forced to manipulate committees, sway influencers, and make demands of staff members. These demands often create ongoing tension and a “senior pastor against the rest of the team” dynamic that ultimately reduces synergy to nothingness and causes disdain between the lead pastor and the staff.

On the other hand, living a life of leadership organically increases the number of followers a senior pastor gets to lead and creates such a healthy respect for the senior pastor that most of the church and the church staff will follow their leadership with much less hesitation.

Living a life of leadership might be summed up in five expectations.

  1. Live a life of integrity. Consistent moral living based on biblical expectations is vital.
  2. Be willing to get your hands dirty. Those who preach and lead but never join a group going on a mission trip to a third world country, are unwilling to help move folding chairs and tables when already in the room when the need arises, never show up for the church “work day” etc… will seldom gain the respect of those they are asking to do these same things.
  3. Be involved in the ministries you are requesting everyone else get involved in. I have consulted many churches where the senior pastor expected everyone to be in a small group. That is, everyone but himself. Any time senior leadership makes a request of others and they don’t carry it out themselves this wreaks of hypocrisy. Hypocrites never gain a following.
  4. Be willing to take less so others can have more. Make no mistake, senior pastors in mid-size to mega-size churches are under great scrutiny in today’s economy. If a senior pastor wants to win the hearts of their staff and the rest of the church, when it comes time to do next year’s budget, either turn down your own raise so the staff can get one or refuse a raise so the church can do more ministry in the upcoming year. And for sure, be unwilling to take a raise if the rest of the staff is not going to receive one.
  5. Treat staff members as equals. When a senior pastor concludes he is the CEO of the team rather than a spiritually gifted equal with the lead role, conversations with staff members can easily diminish to speaking down to an underling rather than connecting with an equal. At this point, every senior pastor loses some level of influence with those who are his peers in ministry. Staff members are equals with a different gift set, not the senior pastor’s employees on the churches payroll.
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Rick has one passion… To see “a biblical small group within walking distance of every person on the planet making disciples that make disciples.” He is presently pursuing this passion as the Small Group and Discipleship Specialist at LifeWay Church Resources. Rick has authored or co-authored multiple books, studies, and leader training resources including A Different Kind of Tribe: Embracing the New Small Group Dynamic, Destination Community: Small Group Ministry Manual, The Gospel and the Truth: Living the Message of Jesus, Small Group Life Ministry Manual: A New Approach to Small Groups, Redeeming the Tears: a Journey Through Grief and Loss, Small Group Life: Kingdom, Small Group Kickoff Retreat: Experiential Training for Small Group Leaders, and Great Beginnings: Your First Small Group Study, Disciples Path: A Practical Guide to Disciple Making. Rick’s varied ministry experiences as an collegiate minister, small group pastor, teaching pastor, elder, full-time trainer and church consultant, as well as having been a successful church planter gives him a perspective of church life that is all-encompassing and multi-dimensional. Rick is a highly sought after communicator and trainer.