Vision Killers, Unreasonable Expectations

11 11 2009

Pastors, leaders… from what you’ve experienced, what has been the top three vision killers or unreasonable expectations?  How were they resolved?

Maybe this will help…


Sheep Don’t Lead The Shepherd

6 11 2009

The dysfunction begins with the annual church business meeting. If that’s not enough, then bring on the deacon board elections! But that’s material for another post.

Over the years I have served on a few church boards and have learned that many have no idea what their role should be. But they certainly understand what they think it should be. It doesn’t take long to recognize that for some it is a perception of power.  Their long-awaited opportunity to influence the direction of the church, the pastor, the staff, the finances. The chance to drop ministries and resurrect ineffective programs because the traditions of the church requires them. And you know the attitude and behavior that goes with it.

Some can be mentored and led into an understanding of leadership and what it means to serve on a deacon board – if you must have one at all – and there are some that cannot and will leave a damaging wake as they take their ball and go home. I believe the Bible is clear on what a deacon board, or your equivalent, is to do. In Acts 6 you see the first “deacon board” with a mandate of serving. They took on other responsibilities in order to ensure the apostles had time to devote themselves to prayer and leading the church. The primary responsibility of the board is to support the vision God gave their pastor. You help make it happen. You pray and you find the finances. You share that excitement with the church so they understand and participate in the implementation of that vision.

Sheep don’t lead the shepherd. The board must support the pastor.  He has to know you have his back. He will give account for what he does and doesn’t do and say. Pray for him, support him and allow your pastor to be himself both personally and in his leadership.  They tried to put Saul’s armor on David but it was too big, too awkward. David stumbled, it clanged. Don’t try to dress the pastor in your armor!

Come On People, Lighten Up!

19 08 2009

I was talking to a friend of mine recently who leads a growing church.  During our conversation it was obvious that he was exhausted. Drained of energy and drive. During the last five weeks he had only one week-end with his family. What caused this interruption of family time? Here’s a partial list:

1) Unscheduled and unannounced visits to the church office

– some asking (and some demanding) for on-the-spot counseling

– some “just driving by and thought I’d say hi”…for an hour

2) Phone calls asking for prayer and hospital visits

3) Emails complaining about music, direction of the church, etc.

4) Phone calls to his cell all hours of the day and night

5) Unannounced visits to his home

And I know this isn’t unusual. It happens continuously. Non-stop.  So many times my friend can’t even use his own office. He grabs his laptop and heads off to…well I can’t tell you because some of these people will track him down and demand more face time. Isn’t that outrageous? A pastor can’t even use his own office? And get this. During our conversation he spotted one of these guys and we had to move to a spot where he wouldn’t be tackled for who knows what.

I could go on for hours with story after story about my friend and other pastors I’ve been privileged to work with that have had their energy, passion and relationships sucked right out of them. This is so wrong. Not only from the standpoint of basic respect but if you are one of those I’ve described here, you are preventing your pastor from doing what he’s been called to do.  Be honest, you wouldn’t tolerate someone demanding all of your time, interrupting your dinner with phone calls, calling you in the middle of the night because they are arguing with their spouse. And before you tell me that this is what a pastor is called to do, let me tell you what a pastor is called to do. Better yet, I’ll tell you what Jesus says a pastor is called to do. While the task is life-changing it is a pretty short job description. A pastor is called to 1) equip you and I for works of service.  (Eph. 4:12 1 Tim. 4:13) That’s it. GASP!  What? Then who’s going visit me in the hospital? Who can I go to for some counseling? Who’s going empty the trash Sunday morning? Me?

Everyone has a purpose and is shaped to do at least one thing. God has given you the talent and skill to carry out that purpose. And that includes the pastor. His purpose is to equip us to do works of service.  Included in works of service are the hospital visits, the counseling, the mentoring. When you hear that George is in the hospital, YOU go and visit George. When you learn about a new believer in your gathering, you be their mentor.  The pastor is not called to make hospital visits. He is not called to provide you with 24/7 counseling. He is not called to entertain your impromptu drive-bys. For vision’s sake, leave him alone!

Don’t get ticked if the pastor doesn’t visit your home or take you to lunch or can’t take your call. Don’t write the angry emails when your pastor doesn’t have time to sit and chat with you for an hour. If you’re sick, you should expect a visit from others in your church. Love it when someone in the church who is called to do this does come to visit, or offers some counseling time or has the time to go with you to talk to a family member about Christ.

I’ve seen people get so angry they leave the church just because the pastor finally told them that he cannot continue to take their calls at all hours of the night. The pastor must set boundaries and protect his time and space. As with all of us, his wife and family are a priority (1 Tim 3:5 Eph. 5). Our self-centeredness cannot get in the way of this command.

The pastor has the responsibility to protect the vision that God gave him.  You must allow him to do that.

To hear this from a pastor’s perspective, check out “Come And See.” You got to watch the whole thing.  So right on. I love it!

Step Up Or Step Out

24 07 2009

An inch deep and a mile wide. That seems to describe the maturity of many people in church today. Their emotions crave for the next high and little desire to understand scripture and its practice.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard church people say “I want to be fed,” or “I’m just not getting fed,” or “I wish our pastor would preach verse by verse.”  And these people are so huge with information they qualify for “The Biggest Loser.” And when verse by verse gatherings are scheduled these same people are never there. But yet they continue to gripe, offering excuses why they can’t make it. Just admit it. You’ll only do church when it’s convenient. And your schedule will only accommodate the traditional Sunday morning service and so the pastor has one shot to deliver your emotional fix for the week. If the pastor doesn’t deliver?  Well then, he/she isn’t biblical and is leading the church astray!  Have you heard this one…I have no idea where he’s taking this church!  I just don’t fit in anymore so I’m gonna let my friends know about it. I’m gonna send the pastor an email…weekly. I’m gonna blog about it…after I leave. I’m gonna…

While this is going on, aren’t you feeling miserable? Really, I’m serious. Isn’t feeling this way making you angry, frustrated, anxious? You own those emotions and it’s up to you if you’re going to allow yourself to harbor, or even experience them at all. The solution is simple. Understand that your pastor was called to this service (Eph. 4:11-12) and has a vision that God has given him for the church. If you are not sure what that is, ask him. Understanding the vision usually helps you understand the methods. If that does not resolve your issues, then spend time in prayer and continue the dialog with other staff members. After you fully understand the vision and find that you just can’t own it, that’s OK. You need to find another church where you can embrace its vision. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. If you do leave, do it with love for those that remain and have respect for the pastor, leadership and their vision for that church. Don’t leave with an attitude. Don’t leave with the intent to take others with you. Don’t leave with the idea that you’re going to blog about all these “horrible” changes the pastor made. John 13:34 . Here’s a real example of a good separation. We had a family leave our church because they could not embrace our vision. After leaving, the comment they made was that while they wanted something else, they knew that they could send their unchurched family and friends to us and they would be loved and hear the gospel message.  This family is happy and serving locally and abroad. That is how it’s done.

My advice is this. Make every attempt to stay and understand and own the vision. Find an area of ministry to commit to and serve even while trying to own the vision and embrace change (probably weekly!).  Allow yourself to enjoy the ride!

OK friends, your turn.