Are You Ready to Lead?
Sometimes I cringe when I hear pastors talk about leadership styles, because today modern pastors are attending seminars that are meant for business people, telling them how to get ahead, how to manage, how to lead, and the theme of those seminars is, you can be what you want to be, you can have what you want to have, if you will apply certain leadership principles. And, therefore, rather than being a godly pastor, they’re more like a glorified CEO, a chief executive officer, and that’s a very heady thing, because every pastor wants to succeed. Anybody who leads anything wants it to succeed, and I’ve always, from the time of my youth, if I was in any kind of a contest, I wanted to win, I wanted to succeed.
I had a young preacher who wanted to chauffeur me around when I was preaching a citywide crusade in Oklahoma. Joyce was with me. He was just dying for the opportunity to be with me, and to be around me, and you could just tell he was just so charged up about what he was doing in his church, hoping that perhaps by association he could learn some pastoral secrets. Joyce said to him, You remind me of Adrian when he was your age. Oh, he said, thank you so much. She said, I didn’t mean that for a compliment. It’s a heady thing; everybody wants to succeed and so forth.
I was speaking to a young pastor, and he said to me—and I think he was trying to impress me—he was talking about his church, and he said, I hired me a minister of music. I said, Stop right there. A minister of music is not a hireling. You don’t hire a minister of music. He’s God’s man, God’s gift to the church. Number two: he doesn’t belong to you. You are his fellow servant. You don’t talk about your staff. He doesn’t belong to you; he is not a hireling.
The hireling flees; the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. And the model for church leadership is not the CEO, or not that the pastor is not some prince of the church, and I told those preachers that it is time that some exchange the scepter for the staff. Now, I believe in leadership; oh, you better believe I believe in leadership. Everything rises or falls on leadership. A leader is able to inspire people to go places they would not go on their own, and attempt to do things that they would never have thought of, apart from leadership. And leaders, therefore, have incredible power for good or for evil. But the example of the pastor for leadership is Jesus Christ himself, and Jesus led through servanthood.
Now, there’s a difference between leadership in this world and leadership in a church. A pastor is God’s appointed and God’s anointed leadership. The church is like a flock; it is a flock, and the pastor is a shepherd. I told those preachers, and I’ll tell you, that the ministry is the best calling, but it is the worst profession. No one should seek the ministry as a profession. No one should refuse it as a calling. I believe in a God-called ministry. First Timothy chapter 3, verse 1: “This is a faithful saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” But Paul said, “I thank God that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry.” Only God can make a minister—not parents, not a bishop, and not a seminary.
Haddon Robinson said this: The modern preacher has a job description that sounds like Superman. He’s expected to make house calls like an old country doctor, shake hands like a campaigning politician, prepare lessons like a professor, and see as many people as a psychologist. He has to be as skilled an executive as the president of a business and as shrewd a financier as a banker—and, in the middle of it all, so good a diplomat that he could umpire a baseball game between the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan. As a result, those entering the ministry are confused about who they are, and what they’re supposed to accomplish, and how they’re to live up to the impossible expectation. And I want to say to any young person out here who’s thinking about the ministry: if you want a job like that, you don’t have both oars in the water.