When Pastor vs Manager Collide

Ever met a pastor that just saw people as pawns?

It’s an easy trap to get sucked into. 

We have a vision for the future, and board or a boss watching us. We want to deliver, but delivery takes manpower. Volunteer manpower. 

So, we get sucked into viewing everyone we meet as someone who can help us meet our goal. Eventually, we burn people out and everyone feels like they are just being used. 
There is a solution though and it’s directly related to the expectation you put on yourself. 

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It took me a long time to learn this lesson. For years, I would push toward a goal. If the person in front of me wasn’t helping me accomplish those goals, they didn’t get much attention.  

It was almost 12 years ago now. We had cut our department’s paid staff essentially in half but still needed to push forward. We put our heads down, grew our existing ministry and added a new ministry from the ground up. Not to mention the fact that we were no longer planning week to week, but had a 6+ month runway. We got things done…but I realize now I was focused on the wrong thing. I had created a massive org chart in my head. One for a ministry 3-4 times our size and all I was focused on was putting people in my org chart. We got things accomplished, but I was forgetting one important piece. I wasn’t just a manager, I was a pastor too. 

It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I had to make a purposeful change in my thinking. And it was one that made me just as likely to accomplish my goals, but was a lot more fun. 

Whenever I meet with someone, I remind myself that I have two equally important objectives. 

  1. Manager - move toward our goals

    It is our job to manage our church or department. I’m assuming you have goals and every day you are working hard to accomplish those goals. That may be growing your weekend attendance, starting a new ministry or investing in an existing one. This is important. It means that you have to always pay attention, always be sharing your vision and your plan, and pay attention to who’s eyes light up. 

    As leaders, we must stay focused on our goal. We must lead the way and engage people in the journey. 

    We must lead our church in the direction we believe God is leading us. That means staying focused, saying "no" to good things, and only putting effort into the right things. 

    But, at the very same time, we must remember that we have a unique opportunity to help our people discover their best contribution to the kingdom of God. 
  2. Pastor - help everyone discover their best contribution

    We have a responsibility to our church and to the Church. The person sitting across the table from us has a calling, a life’s work that’s equally important to our life work. Our role gives us a unique opportunity to help people discover their own contribution. Remember that even if that doesn’t end up happening within your church, it still is having an impact on our world. 

    Just last week, I had a friend in my office asking this exact question. What was next on their journey? Let me tell you, there is nothing quite as fun and helping someone unpack that question in their life. And sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes their passion lines up with what you are trying to accomplish. Either way, when you help someone unpack their calling, it’s a win-win. 

Before people can get excited about your vision, they have to feel like they have something to contribute. It’s our job to help them find it. 

And let me tell you, I've got a lot more accomplished now then I ever did when I only focused on my own goals.