Vision2021 … and beyond
Leadership Development: What does it mean for the church?
“What does your pastor do?” That was the question someone asked me many years ago, before I entered ministry. From memory, my answer was a little vague and came out something like, “Well, I know he always seems busy. I guess he has people to counsel, a Sunday sermon to prepare, extra-long meetings with the elders to attend ….” As I reflect, I really didn’t have any understanding of what the pastor did, and certainly little idea of how his role related to me, as a member of the church. It was only after I entered fulltime ministry and became a pastor did I quickly learn one of the fundamental roles of a pastor or elder. It has to do with pastoral effectiveness and burnout. Can you guess? No? Let me help you.
One day Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, got the opportunity to follow “Pastor” Moses around for the day (you can read about it in Exodus 18). Jethro was amazed at how hard Moses worked and the responsibility he had to shepherd God’s people, Israel. But he noticed one thing that Moses could not see for himself: if he kept this pace up, two things would happen. Firstly, Moses would quickly burn out and be good to no one. And secondly, God’s people would not make it to the promised land without adequate leadership (Exodus 18:22-23).
So, can you now work out what one of the main roles of pastors is? It is leadership development. Paul expresses this by saying, pastors and elders are “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13). This does not mean creating a kind of corporate structure within the church where leaders run ministries and go off to leadership development training and seminars every quarter. Rather, it means following the servant leadership example of Jesus, who, at times, intentionally taught His disciples specific things, who lived by example before them, who allowed them to participate in the ministry alongside Him, and who gave them clear directives, assignments, and assessment, as seen when He sent out the seventy-two (Luke 10:1-24).
What should you think of when you consider leadership development? Here are eight things to help: (1) discipleship, (2) recognizing that the ministry is bigger and broader than one pastor or group of elders, (3) distributing ministry load across the congregation, (4) formal and informal training, (5) protecting the pastor and elders from burnout and ineffectiveness, (6) following Christ’s ordained plan for the church, (7) living by example, and (8) providing clear direction and feedback.
In summary, leadership development is about helping every person to use their gifts to build Christ’s church up in maturity and purity, awaiting her bridegroom (Eph 5:26-27). That is a beautiful picture! And we, as your elders, are committed to making that picture a reality at HBC, working together that we may “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).