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Posts Tagged ‘search committees’


“I’m just a big ego, and everywhere I  go

people know the part I’m playing…”

So went the lyrics on a spoof on David Lee Roth’s cover of Just a Gigolo.  It fit since he was often said to possess quite the ego.  I read an  interesting chapter on ego in leadership.  I started a new book, The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders today.  It is written by Roger Parrott, the President of Belhaven College.

The first 2 chapters were great.  The first was on the challenge to take the longview, or to make decisions as if you will never leave.  He finds (with support from many business studies) that what is wrong with business (and the church & parachurch) is that decisions are made only for the short-term to get quick results so you can move to the next position.

As I read this chapter I was convicted.  At a particular point I started thinking of my next position, and sort of checked out.  I probably made lousy decisions at that point.  And that is Parrott’s point- when you are treating the position as temporary it shapes your concerns and choices.  You want to look good NOW, with little to no regard for what will happen after you leave.

One reason people look toward the next position instead of taking the longview is ego.  They want bigger and better.  They view the current position only as a stepping stone to the next step up the corporate or church ladder.  This is why I didn’t go into youth ministry.  I knew I would only treat it as a stepping stone.  (Don’t worry, my pride showed up in other ways like the self-righteousness of not playing the “game”).

Because ego-driven leadership must be continually fed, it demands that immediate needs are always more important than the longview results, thus stifling opportunity for ministry of lasting value.

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I got this from a Pastor Finder e-mail that I received today.  I thought it was interesting.  The reasons are in reverse order (least to most common).

  1. Church was in conflict when the pastor arrived. Pastors can arrive at a new church to find remaining unresolved and deeply painful conflict. This conflict will not end when you as the pastor “declare” it’s over, and they won’t be resolved with a church majority vote. Conflict only ends when the vast majority of those participating in it agree that it’s over. Make sure you take time to carefully evaluate the church before accepting a pastoral position, and ask probing questions of the search committee. Ask about any prior forced terminations. A church in conflict should not automatically eliminate them from consideration, but you must be prepared and willing to help such a church when you accept the job.

  2. Pastoral leadership style is too strong.A pastor continually walks a fine line of exercising too much or too little authority. Do not assume that because the church is growing, the leadership approves of your leadership style. Honestly evaluate your willingness to share decision—making responsibilities—do you enjoy empowering others, or do you feel it slows down the process too much? Admittedly, some may dislike your style just because you dont agree with them all the time. But a pastor must learn to delegate, resist the temptation to make all decisions and commit to learning more about leadership.

  3. Pastor has poor people skills.

    Believe it or not, some pastors just don’t like people. Others have been sorely hurt by them over time, and others struggle with the shepherding aspect of their position. Still others fall into a trap of people-pleasing. Study Jesus’ life and how He related to people. Understand your calling and purpose as a pastor, and obtain honest feedback from a few trusted individuals.

  4. The church is resistant to change.

    Most churches—and most organizations—resist change, and at times the pastor will become the target of opposition simply because of his position. However, the pastor can cause undue stress to a change situation if he/she is not aware of why the church is resisting. Assess correctly the church’s attitude toward change, and honestly assess your own motivations for suggesting it. Study and practice good change agent principles and skills. Then acknowledge that some changes are yours to begin, but God may wish someone else to complete the work.

  5. Power struggles. Pastors can find themselves caught up in a war over power and control issues with individuals or groups within the church body. To help prevent undue complications, focus on servant leadershiprather than dictatorial leadership. Share ministry with volunteer leadership, and publically give God the glory for your church’s accomplishments. Accept the fact that some will resist your leadership, and learn to deal with them in love. Above all, pray unceasingly for Gods guidance and power.

Even better is when you have more than one of those dynamics going on.  Been there, survived that- by the grace of God alone.  Search committees need to keep the context in mind when they interview a pastor who has been fired.  The pastor can be faithful, pointing people to Christ to resolve the issues, but they continually refuse.  Or, the pastor could completely mishandle the conflict, struggles and resistance in any number of ways.  It’s good to see the history of the church, as well as the pastor, to see if this is a pattern or aberration.

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I was communicating with a denominational leader recently.  Here’s what he said:

I am aware of forty Ministers who are seeking a change, and some of them are quite surprising. In contrast there are several churches in need of Ministers but they seem to be very hesitant to take the plunge, and so there is a weird sort of standoff as Search Committees look for the perfect man and Ministers look for the perfect church, and we still bring students under care and examine new men for the ministry. It is all very complicated.

I have heard that in the PCA, at any given time, 1/3 of the pastors are open to a change of pastorates.

What is going on with pastors?  What is going on with seach committees’ reluctance to choose a man?

In terms of pastors, I think our expectations are often askew.  We expect things to go well, and that their might be an occasional bump in the road.  We have an over-realized eschatology.  We forget our members, and we too, are depraved and struggle with sin.  We forget that just about every church we know about from the New Testament had problems, some of them very serious (Corinth & Galatia).  We forget we are called to be shepherds, and shepherding is HARD work.  It is not an easy vocation, but takes tough men whose hearts are both tough (in dealing with antagonists) and tender (when dealing with the lost and suffering).  We worship at the altar of success- looking for the greener pastures that promise us successful ministry and a life of ease.  And a big salary.  They are looking for the mythological “perfect church”.

Search Committees are formed because either their pastor unexpectedly resigned (unless he retired) or was asked to go.  In either case, they often feel rejected or burned in some sense.  They can be afraid to commit as a result.  They are paralyzed by analysis.  They forget that at some point they need to trust God.  They also worship at the altar of success- looking for a successful pastor, a track record of success etc.  People like me, with the “scarlet F” for failure, are often overlooked in favor of the discontent, but “successful” man.  They are looking for the mythological “perfect pastor.”

So … pastors with itchy feet help produce tentative search committees.  God is sovereign, but sometimes His sovereignty is disciplinary- humbling us for our stubbornness, pride and self-dependence.  Yeah, I’m looking in the mirror of the Law (James 1) to see where I need to change.  My long transition could be disciplinary, I don’t know.  I do know I need to be watchful against the deceitfulness of sin in my own heart, lest I grow bitter in this strange dance we do.  Still, it is with trepidation that I start this process all over again.

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