What is the primary role of the senior pastor?
The tasks of leading in ministry include holding the vision, aligning the mission, and equipping the congregation to share in the burden of serving. The personality of the leader, his or her strengths and weaknesses, their teaching styles, etc. are never the qualifier of their ministry success.
What matters in leadership is the posture of the leader's heart. This heart posture should be like Jesus', leading the charge to serve. "Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him" (NIV, 2011, John 13:16).
The servant leadership of Jesus can be found in the vision for the church. The vision will motivate the body of Christ in a way that the strong are able to link arms with the weaker, so everyone moves together.
Accomplishing the vision in this way means people from all walks of life are represented in the leader's decisions to move forward.
The difficult part of leadership is not everyone will come along, no matter how loving and thoughtful the pastor (Matt. 7:13).
When pastors and other leaders set the mission of their church, the way people are included shows dignity and respect. Not all who are invited choose to participate in the mission, but pastors must consider the weaker parts (1 Cor. 12:22).
Wise leaders take care there are service opportunities for all ability levels. When celebrating giving, those who give less than others are recognized as giving according to their ability (2 Cor. 9:7). When organizing Bible studies, offering varying days and times serves the elderly or third shift workers.
The most valuable service a pastor or leader can do is to equip their congregants for ministry. It is pride for a pastor to act like they have to do it all. It is selfish to hoard the blessing of ministry. Serving by example and working alongside the congregation to spur them to love and good deeds is servant leadership (Heb. 10:24).
Servant leadership is learning how others work best, learn best, and what they are capable of for bringing our best for God's Kingdom.
My preaching style over the past couple of months has shifted as I have tried to serve by delivering the sermon in a way that brings clarity to the content. It takes discipline and intentionality, however I have seen fruit.
Servant leadership in communicating is one step in holding the vision, aligning the mission, and equipping the congregation. To continue to serve as a leader, I must take time to listen, slowing down to actually hear what is being said.
My style can be too abstract, and unfortunately, I can leave behind people who are concrete thinkers. Servant leadership says I would rather get the message across how they need to hear it, rather than speak in the style I enjoy listening. As Ian Fuhr says, "Serve the people who are serving the people" (YouTube, 2016). This approach to servant leadership will help shift the culture for more from the congregation to be included and find a place to belong.
Fuhr, I. (2016, Feb. 22). The subversive power of servant leadership. TedxJohnannesburg. YouTube.
Original post by me from Week 5 Devotional for Pastoral Leadership Class, OCU Online 09/12/23