Friday, April 18, 2008

Pastoral Leadership – Part 3 of 7

Nearly every facet of modern-day pastoring will pull a pastor into church management activity such as problem solving, systems implementation, team building and church branding, pastors must ‘learn to set aside urgent problems and concentrate on long-term, important issues in order to achieve better results.’ Pastors must be willing to commit to a redefined bottom line in Christian ministry. What makes one a successful minister in the eyes of peers or modern-day Christian culture can no longer be the bench mark, but rather what makes one successful in the eyes of God; firstly an intimacy of relationship with the Holy Spirit, birthed through personal prayer and study, and secondly the pastoral guiding of people through contemplative exegesis. Even in the corporate world MBA graduates and CEOs are beginning to discover bottom lines that drift away from a sole focus on profit and the marketability of products. With an increased spiritual awareness comments such as, ‘we often spend time worrying about trivial matters,’ are common as understanding of important issues such as integrity of heart, family values and community outreach come to light.

The integration of personal spirituality and management technique will first require a priority adjustment in the heart of pastors. Spiritual discipline and personal spirituality must take precedence over ‘running a church.’ However the reality of pastoral ministry is that much of what a pastor does is ‘running a church.’ The goal must be successful integration of these two concepts. Great management technique is an essential quality all pastors must possess, thus following a priority adjustment to pastoral ministry, a paradigm shift in thinking must take place that allows a pastor too see how management and spirituality can walk hand in hand.

The paradigm shift required in pastoral thought is an understanding that spirituality and management must work together in what could be termed ‘spirit led leadership,’ a leadership style where decisions and strategy are birthed in prayer and in the determined study of scripture, and outworked with professional application. Contemplative study is used to discover truth and biblical pattern for leadership, problem solving, and personal management; that can be applied in pastoral praxis. This concept of spirit led leadership is already understood in the corporate world with many ‘recent books emphasizing the dramatic interest in incorporating spirituality into management theory, management development and management practice.’ Corporate leaders who have experimented with spirituality have found that where they have included God in their leadership they have ‘made better decisions’ and are more ‘sure of decisions.’

Too often pastors swing from one extreme to another, ignoring conventional wisdom running off the ‘word’ of the Lord or in their own strength steering the ship with complete neglect to the leading of the spirit. God gives wisdom freely to those that ask and out of the gift of wisdom a leader can with intuition and understanding lead and make decisions that will stand him and the church in good stead. The gift of wisdom however does give scope to cut corners in seeking God for spiritual direction in your life and in the lives of your congregation. ‘A common obstacle for success is the desire to cut corners.’ Jesus, the greatest pastoral leader the world has known, continually sought the will of God in his life that he would be careful to do that which his father would have him do. Vice-versa this does not eliminate the need to use simple wisdom in pastoral leadership. Jesus grew in wisdom, not to neglect it, but to apply it to his life and ministry. Separating personal spirituality and management technique is a negative result of individualism, privatization and compartmentalization which leads us to think of them as an ‘either-or’ rather than a ‘both-and.’ They must be seen as a ‘both-and,’ one cannot truly be effective without the other.

To be continued…

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