September 18, 2006
Jesus Leaders Part 2: Pastors at their best
What makes a good pastor? In seminary I was told a good pastor knows Greek and Hebrew. Church elders told me a good pastor keeps the budget in the black and people in the pews. In part two of his post, Jim Martin, pastor of Crestview Church of Christ in Waco, Texas, continues his thoughts on good pastors (a.k.a. "Jesus Leaders").
We are at our best when we help move men and women toward the kingdom of heaven. Contrast this with Jesus' observation that some teachers of his day seemed to get in the way of people moving ahead toward kingdom living. In far too many churches there is a disconnect between the men and women in the pews and those who are leading the church. How tragic when the church appears to be ahead of the leaders. How tragic when those who lead no longer have a genuine pastoral heart for people. Not so with Jesus leaders. They shepherd people like Jesus.
We are at our best when men and women in the community can really be better off because of our ministry. How sad when human beings are worse off for having come in contact with a church leader. People get short changed and hurt when they are used and manipulated by ministers. Far too often, ministers' actions are fueled by personal insecurities instead of the Gospel. Meanwhile, Jesus leaders bring the security, joy, and peace of the Gospel.
We are at our best when the people in our church can trust our integrity. Jesus speaks of the importance of integrity in regard to what one says. Integrity means that we speak truth both publicly and privately. You can count on what we are saying. We quote people accurately. We do not present someone else's material as our own. We do not promise to repay a debt and then "forget" about it. Integrity is not about what we said in that last five-part series (complete with a nice PowerPoint presentation). Integrity is who we are when no one is looking.
We are at our best when we, as leaders, stay focused on what is most important. Jesus makes it clear that loving God and loving people are at the very heart of the law (Matt. 22:34-40). Yet, it is so easy to get focused on things that are relatively small in the grand scheme of things. Jesus leaders are focused on what is front and center. They will not be guilty of worrying about a gnat in the soup while they swallow something the size of a camel (Matt. 23:24). Do our ministries reflect that we are investing our time in what matters most to God?
We are at our best when through our ministry the hearts and lives of the people are changing. Unfortunately, too many of us are overly conscious of numbers. How many bodies were in the big room on Sunday? Meanwhile, Jesus spoke of his concern for the way things were inwardly. Are lives being changed? Are marriages and families being healed? We were never meant to be a people who merely looked the part while inwardly as corrupt as anyone else.
What kind of leadership ought to be present in a church? The answer is going to be found as we get serious about being Jesus leaders who both teach and do. That is when we are at our best.