This is the second posting in a series on Spirit-filled pastoral leadership.
When you walk in the doors of the church on Sunday morning, what are you most hoping to communicate and accomplish? What is your message? I’m not talking about just the topic of the sermon, but also the intention of your heart and mind toward everyone you encounter throughout the day.
Spirit-led leaders seek to be conduits of the Holy Spirit, so that they can show others as well as tell others about God. They are authentic, transparent, humble leaders, who are willing to share their own weaknesses and struggles, while simultaneously expressing confidence in God. They are concerned with developing who they are as well as with improving the quality of what they do, and they also care about how they do whatever it is they are doing for Christ.
As you well know, people come to church for many reasons other than their own spiritual revitalization and growth, and many have expectations (even, demands) that are not necessarily realistic or aligned with the purposes of the church. Some believers will mistreat you, misjudge you, annoy you or frustrate you. It’s not easy to be a pastor or spiritual leader, even in the best of circumstances.
However, being the best leader, the best example, the best pastor you can be is still your calling. It’s up to you to help others know what the church is, why believers gather together on Sundays, and what their purpose in life is. If you don’t help them to get a picture of the ultimate goal of discipleship—to become more and more like Christ in their heads, hearts, and behavior—who will?
For example, on Sundays (or whenever you gather for worship and fellowship), you can:
• Signal the congregation that you are a follower of Christ (not yourself, not some other guru or celebrity), seeking to be transformed by God over time (not by your own effort alone, or in some once and for all quick fix program) in ways that fit with God’s will for your life as best you can discern it. (You are seeking to fulfill God’s purposes not your own.)
• Go to church to meet God and to help others meet God themselves.
• Check your ego and personal agenda at the door.
• Work to resolve whatever conflicts exist before you arrive on Sunday morning, or else make a plan to resolve them peacefully and constructively as soon as possible. Forgive, if need be. Get help when you cannot forgive.
• Consciously seek to connect with God, honor Christ, and listen for the Spirit as the guiding priorities in all that you do—especially in worship.
• When leading worship, forget the theatrics and quit making stupid jokes that have nothing to do with the purpose of the morning. Humor can add a lot, providing you are not trying to draw attention to yourself and you are not distracting the congregation from God.
• Be yourself, be real, care, and let your words express the thoughts and feelings you have for the congregation (the ones that come from the Spirit, that is). Let them flow out of your own prayer life, your study of Scripture, your desire to bless the congregation.
No matter what the size of your building, budget, staff or congregation, every pastor or Christian leader can aspire to model authentic faith and spiritual maturity. You can’t be perfect, but you can make choices every day that model sincere faith and commitment to Christ. You can set your intention on living a spiritually vital life, and you can take action to live authentically.
What helps you to be your best, Spirit-led self on Sunday mornings?
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13, NIV)