Although I am not currently in a pastoral position, I spent 16 years in that role. One thing I know is that I love ministry, most pastors do. Of course, there are some aspects of the job that I like more than others, but that is true of anything we do and enjoy. The sad fact is that I knew pastors who loved ministry, but were let go due to one sin or another. Many of them were more concerned with going through a “quick” restoration period so they could get back into the ministry than they were in how their sin affected the people they were called to serve. For those of you who are wondering, they had the wrong perspective.
The Importance of Honest Leadership
As ministry leaders, it is important for us to remember that much of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual well-being of those we lead is in our hands, at least to some degree. Whether we like it or not, people look to us for spiritual and practical guidance. Our actions and our words matter. It took me many years to learn this, but I love the fact that we serve a God of second chances and uses us to help others who struggle in similar ways as we do.
The Importance of Creating a Healthy Environment
In that light, let me say that in your ministry situation you are the person who creates the environment in which people either grow or wither spiritually. You may preach great sermons and have great illustrations, but if you do not serve people in a way that makes them feel accepted and cared for, then you are not serving them well. In fact, I know firsthand what it is like to serve people who I liked and cared for emotionally but failed. Of course, that is not true in every aspect, but as I look back on my years in the ministry it was more about doing than about being, and people felt that in our relationship.
The Importance of Learning to do Better
These days I am all about helping others learn to become authentic, transformational, and servant leaders. But I run into so many people who think the things I teach are too soft, especially men. However, if you are a person who thinks servant leadership principles are “soft” then let me challenge you to implement one new soft skill such as listening so that people feel heard.
Don’t interrupt the other person, don’t dismiss their thoughts and feelings, don’t think the other person is wasting your time, and listen in such a way that you can have a real discussion on why they see things the way they do without judging them. I guess that after a week of doing this successfully with every person you encounter, you will no longer think these are soft skills. Now multiply that out over the other areas of servant leadership that include empathy, creating community, bringing healing to others, and more and tell me that it is easy. The good news is that it does become easier with training and practice.
The Importance of Effective Servant Leadership
Effective servant leadership requires purpose, discipline, and compassion. It's challenging and not a journey for the weak. But the results of your committed implementation of these principles will bring clear results.
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