The role of preaching has always been the top priority for me primarily because it is at the very heart of what we do. At the same time I can’t help but recall a Steve Brownism[i] that states, “Good preaching covers a multitude of sins”. In other words, if you make preaching a priority - do a good job at it - people will overlook the many inadequacies in your life. Back to my point, you lead when you preach. In my opinion our task of preaching is not to inspire and offer therapeutic suggestions on life, or to simply teach Scripture to our people, but rather to be a prophetic Gospel saturated voice that takes the whole counsel of God and applies it to the context God has called you to serve. As one friend told me, “you white preachers like to make suggestion how people should live. You use phrases like ‘you might want to consider’ when the Bible says “thus saith the Lord!” Most of us have a lot to learn about leading through our preaching.
We also lead when we administrate the Sacraments. If you are not familiar with these Presbyterian terms, this is presiding over baptism and the Lord’s Supper (Communion, Eucharist). As the pastor presides over the Lord’s Supper, he leads God’s people to the table were they are “re-membered” as a body and spiritually nourished through God’s grace. In baptism he is the one used by God to administer the sacrament and the blessings that come with it.
As I have written in an earlier blog, I believe the pastor is the director of worship regardless of whether he actually leads or participates in the musical aspect of the service. I fully realize that there are many who may debate this perspective; nevertheless in the end the pastor must lead through having either direct or indirect responsibility of every part of the worship service.
An area that many pastors may feel uncomfortable is vision and strategic planning. In my opinion the pastor is to be the chief vision keeper. This is a vision that comes through prayer and careful discussion with the leaders (elders) to discern God’s vision and strategy for the church. Once these are in place the pastor should work with the elders to insure that annual goals are established, implemented and evaluated.Leadership development is a very important area that a pastor should not neglect. The best leaders are those who are developed, or “home grown” from within the church. Therefore a clear plan should be in place where new leaders are regularly being turned out for ministry both in the church and out in the community. Please understand that the task of developing new leaders is perpetual and the pastor must lead by always looking for potential leaders and challenging them to action.
The pastor also leads through congregational care and spiritual development. It is the pastor’s responsibility to mentor and empower the elders to shepherd the flock by example and through training. He also provides oversight of deacons and mercy ministries.
The pastor also leads through administration and management as he is the moderator of session. That is the to say he is the one who leads the elders meetings by setting the agenda and making sure the meetings occur and are lead appropriately. He is also to make sure pastoral care is taking place whether he does this himself or through others on his staff.
Let me conclude with this quote from Dan Allendar, “What most organizations want is clarity — the banishing of ambiguity and a plan that is guaranteed to work. But a limping leader who lives and breathes faith won’t offer those restraints. Instead, he offers an open field on which to play and to fail, to reframe and redesign. The process of chaos-induced creativity invites us to surrender to the God who honors all creativity with new chaos and, with it, opportunities to re-create again and again. A leader-fool blesses complexity because he knows it will humble the team, expose their idols of control, and invite them both to listen with greater depth and to open their hearts to the inverted paradoxical ways of God.” (Leading with a Limp by Dan Allender, pg. 93)