I’m re-reading my favorite book on ministry leadership, Leading With A Limp by Dan Allender. The section below coincides with what I’ve been feeling more and more the larger our church grows, and the more difficult my job as “leader” becomes. The larger the organization, the more complexity, which means more problems. The larger the church, the more people, which means more crises, and more people to disappoint.
I love how honest Allender is. It’s refreshing because he says things that most are afraid to say. This blog post isn’t a complaint about my church or a cry for help, it’s simply the truths of reality. The chapter in which Allender writes this is about counting the cost of leadership. It’s simply an honest look at the unrealistic expectations our culture, and specifically our Christian culture, places on leaders.
My advice along these lines is to be nice to your pastors, let them know you have their back, expect them to make mistakes and not be good at everything, confront them with grace and gentleness and understanding that your specific desire may not be able to be met, and to remember they are people just like you. They are human, not superhuman. Being a pastor certainly doesn’t make you perfect and it doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings. There’s a reason the average stay of a pastor at a Protestant church is four years:
We expect a leader to make tough decisions–to fire his close friend if necessary or to send troops into harm’s way–yet we want him to tear up over a sad story and be sentimental on Mother’s Day. What we want is an illusion and we know it. We prefer the illusion because we have a deep need to be buffered from reality. Setting up a leader to be our big daddy, our bright and shining knight, our perfect mother who will get up in the middle of the night and hold us until we feel safe makes leadership a nightmare that we inflict on a few while we comfort ourselves that we don’t have the right stuff to pull it off.
We’re merely the followers who decide when to topple our imperfect leaders. We can walk out of church and complain to our friends about another sermon that just wasn’t up to our standards… We require our leaders to be perfect–or at least much more perfect than we are–and then we reserve the right to pick them clean like vultures that have patiently waited for the wounded beast to stop twitching.
- Psalm 24 Devotional – Resting in the King of Glory - February 28, 2021
- Ep. 44: Satisfying our unending appetite of insecurity with the unending love of our Father - February 20, 2021
- Psalm 23 Devotional – Green Pastures in the Darkest Valley - February 14, 2021