I have told my son, who is a young pastor, “There are just two things you need to do: Love God and love people.” If you do these two things, you will not go too far astray.
Many younger pastors immediately try to assert their authority because they feel insecure. They try to change things overnight, do not respect the DNA of the church, and run over people. I did some of that as a younger pastor.
On one occasion an issue came up, and I was out of sorts. Fortunately, there was an older person on the board who would listen to me vent. He sat in my office about 45 minutes before one Sunday evening service while I vented. If the board did not go along with me, I was going directly to the membership. After all, more people had come to the church under my leadership than under the previous pastor. It was going to be the board or me. He did two things: He listened to me without rebuking me, and he kept confidence.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to lead a breakout session at Lifeway’s Kids Ministry Conference 2012 titled "The Non-Confrontationalist’s Guide to Confrontation."
I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, primarily because no matter the context, no matter the size, no matter the organizational structure … leading through conflict is one of the most important things we do.
In this session, I unpacked three reasons why you should choose to lean into conflict rather than step back from it. And I shared four steps I use to lead through conflict. I believe everyone can be a better leader by applying these simple steps.
Yes, someone needs to eventually make a decision. But if you want to fully engage the people on your team, you have to routinely ask the magic question: “What do you think?”
People want to contribute to the conversation. They want to be part of the big decisions. Don’t worry if you don’t take their advice every time. That’s not their expectation either. They just want to know their voice has been heard.
People Are Different
There are certainly some folks who appreciate a more directive style of leadership, who say, “Just tell me what to do, and I’ll go get it done.” Those people will value your decisiveness.
“What do I do when the former youth pastor is still attending our church?”
I get this question from time to time and have actually had to work in this environment in both of the churches I’ve served in over the past 20 years.
Sometimes the former youth pastor takes a promotion and ends up a worship pastor or the director of a regional campus. Maybe they were a key volunteer holding together the ministry during transition until you stepped into the role.
In larger churches, he or she might have been promoted to the student ministries pastor and you take over a junior high or high school ministry. In any case, contending with the former head of a youth ministry you are now charged to lead can be unsettling, challenging or even painful.
Many of us grew up with the chant, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”
I used to believe the person that coined the phrase was an idiot.
Words can hurt—sometimes worse than broken bones.
But the longer I lead in ministry, the more I realize there is truth to this well-known phrase.
Anytime we exalt the men of God above the God of men, the church has been charmed. I thoroughly and wholeheartedly believe in honoring deserving men and women of God. This is right and well pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Paul instructs us in the Book of Romans to give honor where honor is due. Quite honestly, honor is a rare commodity in many Christian circles nowadays. We would do well if we practiced giving honor to those who merit it more. But trouble is on the horizon when we exalt our leaders as if they are Gods and give glory to them that is due the Lord. Men can and should be honored, but they must never be worshipped.