There is a saying, “One is the loneliest number.” For many years I thought one was not all that lonely but a nice change of pace. I think that’s because in my former life as a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ there was such a crushing emphasis on team that you almost couldn’t escape it. I am not an introvert by nature so for one to feel not lonely is saying something. I have been a “pastor” for one year now. I am coming to the conclusion that “pastor” equals “one”. I want there to be a team around me.
I desire for there to be a team around me. But, the nature of the office is that there is the pastor (full-time, on duty, Christian-type) and then there are those around the pastor (people who are working out their faith in REAL life, in the REAL world, here and now). It seems to me that those around the pastor are amazing, awe-inspiring actually. I mean they work, they work hard all day for some company somewhere and then they work, and work hard in the context of the church. Pastors become pastors because (and let’s be honest here) they can’t or are unwilling to do that (yes, I understand there is an aspect of being called by God to vocationally serve his church, please don’t think I am missing that or downplaying it, I am not; I feel very called and very led to vocational service. I also know that if I wasn’t in vocational service I wouldn’t serve to the level that I do).
Leadership requires one to plan, prepare, and set direction. This takes place as we dream, think through the possibilites of how to make this dream work, and then begin to put it into practice. This is very easy to do in the context of the parachurch (relatively speaking). You have a team of full-time professional staff who are committed to the mission of the organization. There is already a base of like-mindedness or they would not have spent the time they did to raise all that money. Now you come to the church context where everyone (and I mean everyone) has their own idea of mission, direction, and praxis. There is only a handful of professional staff (all of which are working in specialized areas) and there are volunteers. The volunteers care deeply for the people they are ministering to but generally don’t have a broader desire to lead, cast vision, or set direction.
As a result this means that for the pastor there is much that must be done alone. However, this is then compounded by the reality that he must bring his volunteers along and up to speed with his dreams and vision. This requires the pastor to be a coach. I stink as a coach. I am a terrible coach. I am pretty good at casting vision, setting direction, and bringing change, however, I am not good at bringing others along with me.
So, what does this mean? I think it means that I have to learn to hold certain things more loosely and do a significantly better job at bringing people into the conversation at the beginning of the process as opposed to the end. This means that I have to cast vision to them to help them see how important it is for them to set direction with me. I think I see why Dan Allender calls his book “Leading With a Limp”.