I get asked all the time by young leaders “How do you handle the responsibility of leading something like Catalyst?” Good question.
Reality is, anyone who leads a church, a company, a community, a nonprofit ministry, a team or even a family feels and knows the pressure of responsibility. And responsibility is part of leadership. Always.
You’ve heard this before, "You’re responsible for what happens. Don’t screw up!" Right! We hear this all the time from our parents, our boss, our board, our friends, and from our spouse.
I get asked frequently: “Pastor, how do you get so much done and still take care of yourself and your family?”
Honestly, I never feel I’ve accomplished as much as I would like, but after receiving the question so many times, perhaps I should attempt to answer.
I do have a lot of responsibility. I pastor a large church undergoing transition and change. I have an active (some would say over-active) online presence. I blog regularly to a growing audience and interact daily with my readers. I maintain a separate nonprofit ministry I’ve managed for more than 10 years where I provide consulting and teaching to pastors and churches.
Saddleback didn’t have an organized youth ministry until we had 500 in attendance at the church. We didn’t have a singles ministry until we had 1,000 people in attendance.
And I’m glad we didn’t.
It’s not because those ministries aren’t important. They’re vital! But God hadn’t provided anyone to lead them. Never create a ministry position and then fill it. It’s backwards. Your most critical component to a new ministry isn’t the idea to start it—it’s the leadership of the ministry. Every ministry rises and falls on leadership. Without the right leader, a ministry will just stumble along. It may even do more harm than good. I could tell you some horror stories about poorly-led ministries.
Be patient and trust God’s timing. Don’t try to outrun or outthink Him. The staff at Saddleback never starts new ministries. We may suggest an idea but we let the idea percolate until God provides the right person to lead it.
I knew a man very well who went to work for a major ministry. He quickly worked his way into a position of leadership. Whenever he was in the presence of the president of the ministry, he was the picture of honor.
From serving the man water, juice, etc., to buckling him in his car, to displaying the most incredible outward show of honor and respect once could imagine. But when he was not in the presence of the mentor, he would second-guess his boss and make ever increasing disparaging remarks.
This man had a hidden agenda. He was operating under the deception that he would one day take this man’s ministry, which, sadly, he eventually attempted to do through a five-year series of frivolous and totally unsuccessful lawsuits against his mentor.
Pastor Chris Morgan, my friend and colleague on the 12Stone Church staff team, and one of the best worship leaders in the country, sent me a personal journal entry on leadership from his readings in I Thessalonians. It’s so good, I’m sharing it with you.
“Our visit to you was not without results . . .”
The apostle Paul, having validated the Thessalonians (and his experiences with them) in Chapter 1, now begins to authenticate his motives in Chapter 2. He is calling them to remember how he served among them. This is not so that he can get personally recognized, but so that the message he preached could get re-validated among them.
I find here in Thessalonians, from John Maxwell’s book, The 5 Levels of Leadership.
The most difficult place for any Christian pastor to serve may be next to a military base.
The greatest opportunity any pastor might have in a long lifetime may be serving next to a military base.
As the Apostle Paul said, “... a wide door for effective service opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (I Cor. 16:9, NASB).
Jim and Patsy told their story to some of us not long ago. I have never forgotten their testimony and want to continue lifting them to the Lord.
Background: They are from the U.S. and pastor a church near an American military base somewhere overseas. They’ve been there two years.