For the past two years, I have had the privilege of serving as Lead Pastor of New Song Church. NSC is a wonderful place to serve. I have found the people of our church forward thinking, gracious, loving, and accepting of everyone, especially “rookie pastors.” It’s been an incredibly eye-opening experience to be a Lead Pastor…it’s a much different world than being a Worship Pastor, which is the role that I occupied previously. In many ways, it has been the hardest thing that I’ve ever done, but yet it has also been incredibly rewarding. I’ve learned a lot about leading others, and more importantly, about leading myself. But, above all else, I’ve learned that I have a lot left to learn.
The other night I stayed up late flipping back through some old journal entries I wrote since becoming a Lead Pastor. In doing so, I really got an in-depth perspective of the journey that I’ve been on (by the way, if you don’t keep a journal, you’re really missing out on a tangible way to see God’s movement in your life). Of course, the pages of my journal were filled with high moments, but they were also filled with many low moments, too.
After gazing into the past and seeing things that have either caused my heart to break or spurred me on, I’ve made a list of 5 Things That Pastors Are Thinking But Won’t Say To Church Members. Here they are:
1. The church is no place for drama – My friend Bryan Roberts says, “Save yo drama for yo mamma.” I love that! People do enough fighting at home in their own families; the last thing we want to perpetuate is fighting in the church, which is God’s family. The Enemy uses drama to tear apart the church. The bottom line is, we have far too many other important things to do, like fulfilling the Great Commission of Jesus, than to get wrapped up in trivial issues of no eternal consequence whatsoever. We’ve got to focus on the mission! Period.
2. In order for the church to thrive and survive, it must change – I love the name of our church-“New Song.” Notice that it’s not “Old Song.” When churches sing the proverbial “Old Song” again and again, they die. If the church does not evolve with the times, and change its methods, then it will die. Need proof? Just drive around your city and see all of the dying churches. Churches that have “life” and are thriving haven’t changed the Message, they’ve just changed the methods. What worked to reach the previous generation will not work to reach the current generation.
3. It’s unrealistic to hold a Pastor’s family to a higher standard than you hold your own family – It troubles me greatly when someone treats a pastor’s wife and children differently just because they are “the pastor’s family.” Pastors are real people– just like everyone else. They fart and burp just like ordinary people do (sorry, Mom). Their wives don’t have to play the piano, lead the choir, or answer the church telephone. They have their own identity. A Pastor’s kids have their own identity, too. The stigma of growing up with the title “PK” (Preacher’s Kid) is tough. Their identity should be their own, in Christ, and not a subset of their parents. My wife and I hold our kids to the same standards whether they are at home, at school, at Wal-Mart, or at Church. We want our children to have room to fail, because we need that, too. And after all, failure is a healthy part of life-it’s the best teacher.
4. Family must come before the church – If a pastor is going to preach about “The importance of family” then he must model it. Furthermore, a Pastor’s family must come before his job, because they are his first ministry…not the church. Pastors come and go at a church, but their families remain with them through it all. A pastor can’t lead God’s family if he can’t lead his own-and he certainly can’t lead his family if he works 70+ hours a week, and is still “working” when he’ s at home, too.
5. The mission of the church trumps any one person’s “personal mission” – Let’s face it, we all have great ideas! We all have our own passions that we want to champion. However, if the church adopted everyone’s own personal mission, the result would be utter chaos. In order for the church to thrive, it must be focused on one clear and compelling vision, not several. If the church does not have, and focus on, a clearly defined vision and strategy, then it will be schizophrenic. All churches ultimately have the same mission, “The Great Commission,” set by Jesus. However, the way in which they carry it out is unique to their community and culture. God has called out leaders in positions to discern how the church should carry out its’ mission. Part of trusting God means trusting the human leadership He has put into place.
So, there you have it…a brief look into the mind and heart of a pastor. More than anything, though, what we want church members to know is that we love and adore them! It’s an honor for us to serve God by serving His church. We appreciate the fact that people in the congregation put up with all of our imperfections, and we love that God uses members of the church body to teach us more about His unending grace. We are grateful for the love and trust given to us, and at the end of the day, there’s absolutely nothing else that we’d rather be doing than leading God’s people.