What it Means to Lead a Church

Part of being a pastor is learning how to lead. Don’t get me wrong. Theology is important. Doctrine is essential. But if you don’t know how to lead you will be preaching the right stuff to an empty church. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. But I’ve seen far too many pastors who know the truth but don’t know how to communicate it properly.

Leadership. It’s an area where I’m constantly learning and always trying to grow. Leaders are learners. And here are a few lessons I have learned about what it means to lead a church.

1. Love the people. If you don’t love the people you can’t lead the people. It’s really that simple. I’ve never known an effective pastor who didn’t love the people that God had entrusted to him.

2. Listen to God. There are all sorts of experts out there. I get offers almost daily for a new event, special conference, coaching group, or training class. In the end, leading a church means tuning out all of the unnecessary noise and listening to God. You can’t lead your people if you don’t listen to God.

3. Learn as you go. If you wait until you’ve got it all figured out you’ll never take the first step. Leading a church is not about knowing everything. If that were the case then no one would be qualified. You just have to commit to a culture of continual learning.

4. Live for the end. Think long-term, not just short-term. I tell my staff, “I’m operating on a 30-year plan, not a 3-year plan.” It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. To look at the problems you face or the needs you have now. But think long-term. Live with the end in mind.

5. Like what you do. Sadly, I know too many pastors who just don’t like what they do. Can I be honest? I don’t just like what I do, I love it! Someone once said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” I’m so thankful God has called me to be a pastor. There’s nothing else in the world I would rather do!

6. Lead from your strengths. Early in my ministry I thought that I needed to work on my weaknesses. Since I wasn’t good at counseling, I needed to learn all I could. Since I wasn’t good at administration, I needed to grow in that area. Now, my philosophy has changed a bit. I want to grow as much as I can in every area, but I believe that God wants me to lead from my strengths. I realize that any gifts I have comes from God. And He gave them to me for a reason. So, I want to develop my strengths and delegate my weaknesses.

Just a few thoughts on what it means to lead a church. I have no doubt that all of you could have written this post better than me. There are so many areas where I am still growing and learning. I’m no expert that’s for sure. I just don’t want to stop learning.