Monday, May 12, 2014

Pastoring the Pastors

For lack of guidance a nation falls,(X)
    but victory is won through many advisers.(Y)
Proverbs 11:14 

In responding to my first call to pastor at the senior level, the need for wise counsel became apparent early.  The Lord has been faithful in sending timely wisdom through people I've grown to trust and respect.  One of my counselors in the ministry encouraged me to consider the family systems embedded in congregational life.
Within a congregation, a pastor provides leadership.  In a church I did not plant, the history of the group will foment a network of informal pastors of the church.  I was advised to spend considerable time - years not months - figuring out the names of the informal pastors of the church.  "The most vocal and participatory people aren't necessarily the pastors, Alex.  Be patient and learn who is really leading the group of people you've been called to love."

Five years after beginning to love the congregation, I find my mentor's words invaluable.  While some of the informal leaders of the church were easily identified, there were a couple of people who didn't really surface as influencers until years after I began walking with the flock.  Waiting and watching revealed I could accomplish more by engaging informal congregational leaders.  They each had a group of 7-12 loyal people.  Without guidance, I would have believed the people I found in the congregation upon arrival were those I'm charged to lead.
Many advisers have shown me I am to lead the people leading the people; I am to pastor the pastors.  I provide pastoral care and leadership to all in pursuit of the vision to see all peoples of the world know, worship and grow (KWaG) as disciples of Jesus Christ.  I have however learned the efficiency of leading a few who will then go and lead many.  Patience and observation have equipped me to navigate difficult waters of race, age, socio-economic status and sexual orientation in the church.  Issues that would have proved my unpreparedness to lead such a diverse group of people have been mitigated because I pastor pastors.  

Publicly, I am the face and voice of the congregation.  When the layers are pealed away, a more nuanced reality is revealed.  Within, I desperately cling to the promise that the Lord will never leave or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5)  Daily, I place a mix of external advise and internal chemistry before the Throne of Jesus. The Savior burns the dross and purifies the rest.  Behind the walls of the church, I am engaged in ever deepening community with a handful of formal and informal leaders.   Beyond the walls of UBC, I am influenced by a network of objective counselors as I gather a group of 7-12 loyal people. 

  The Holy Spirit guides me in the great adventure of pastoral ministry.  The Good Shepherd leads me.  I lead a few shepherds.  The shepherds are leading an increasing number of people know, worship and grow (KWaG) as disciples of Jesus Christ.

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