I believe many of you reading this know that I was on staff at Mars Hill Church for a number of years. I’ve had the experience of being part of a “Mega Church” and learned a ton. I am a student of larger churches and larger than life pastors of larger churches. I assume that most of us are deeply disturbed and saddened when we hear of yet another mega church pastor who has disqualified himself and left the ministry or has been fired by the elder board.
Recently I listened to a podcast interview that Brad Lomenick did with Joby Martin, the pastor of “Church of Eleven 22” (one of the fastest growing churches in USA) in Jacksonville, Florida. During the interview, Joby shared some thoughts on how to be a great leader.
His short answer was, “Finish Well.”
This obviously resonates with me, since my life purpose statement is, “To help develop, equip and empower leaders so that they finish their race well.” 2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV) sums it up:
“I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith.”
When Brad asked Joby how a pastor, or any leader for that matter, finishes well, Joby offered six ideas.
Here they are along with a few comments by me:
1. Rhythms are more important than pacing
I honestly struggle a bit with this one. I think both rhythms and pacing are important. I would not elevate one over the other. It seems to me that a leader could have excellent rhythms but be traveling too fast, beyond his capacity, beyond the capacity of those on his team and at a speed that is not sustainable. How about both good rhythms with a reasonable pace? If you have neither good rhythms and are not traveling at a sane pace, you may be an accident ready to happen.
2. Have good friends who don’t work for you
I’ve lost track of the number of leaders I’ve coached who don’t really have any friends at all —either at work or outside of work. No doubt it’s good to have friends beyond the people you work with all the time. If somebody who reports to you wants to be your friend, it makes it somewhat difficult to challenge that person and be honest with them for fear of loosing the friendship or them loosing their job. I need to pick my friends, not have them pick me. In some cases everyone wants to be a friend to the leader.
3. Be a shepherd not a celebrity
Nobody would probably say it outright that they want to be a celebrity pastor or leader. Unfortunately, celebrity pastors/leaders are often held up as role models for us to emulate. We are encouraged to come to hear them speak, follow them online and buy their books and courses so we can learn to do what they do. I recently memorized Proverb 25:27 (NLT): “It’s not good to eat too much honey and it’s not good to seek honors for yourself.” My meditation on this verse has led me to understand that it’s okay to receive honor, but not okay to seek honor. I should seek Jesus’ honor in all I do and let others bestow honor if they so desire to do so. When honor does come my way, I need to receive it with humility and gratitude while not letting it go to my head.
4. Have some older people in your life whom you allow to tell you no, challenge you and speak truth to you
I have seen lots of accountability on paper, but not a lot in practice. It takes a good deal of genuine humility and teachableness to allow others to challenge me, correct me and speak truth into my life when I need to hear it. Usually my wife and children are the best at this. A lot of fallen pastors had little or no true accountability.
5. Have a hobby that takes your mind off the ministry
Believe it or not, I have had leaders tell me that the ministry is their hobby and that they love it. In my book that’s dangerous and a sure recipe for exhaustion and eventual burnout. We need to find things that refresh, refurbish and relax us. We need biblical sabbath as a principle not just a day. All work and no play not only makes jack a dull boy, but can also make Jack a sick and eventually perhaps a dead boy. I worked with a young, driven, and little down-time leader a number of years ago who had a heart attack at 39 years of age.
6. Keep a close eye on your marriage—Your wife Loves you, knows you and is not impressed by you
I loved this one the most. My wife Susan is my best critic and won’t let me get away with much of anything. I love that about her. She is definitely not overly impressed with me, which is a good thing. I might also add that it’s most difficult for me to take it from here than anybody else. My own ego and insecurities get in the way.
How are you doing with these? Do you need to make some serious adjustments? When will you do that?