Where and how did you learn to be a leader?
Seminaries teach Biblical exegesis, preaching skills, history, theology, and bedside manner. But not many teach people how to lead. This is the basic assessment of a few Presbytery leaders as we meet for a brief retreat.
Among the ponderings:
- There’s more to leading that telling people what to do. Benjamin Zander would say it’s an art – and he’s right. It involves “a new way of being” which can be taught, but must be embodied. Truth: many seminarians, much less ordained pastors are not keen on embodying a new way of being. Honestly, we have a hard time convincing some seminarians to get spiritual direction or take Clinical Pastoral Education.
- Every pastor will have to do the following at some point in professional ministry: hire people, coach people, fire people, re-direct rogues, finesse shifts, handle institutional crises. Most of us learn how to do this on the job. Many of us do it poorly and often the church suffers – perhaps to the point of no return. Truth: we might take continuing education as pastors, but it’s rarely about learning how to fire someone, mentor leaders, or manage a fiery crash.
- Every pastor needs a mentor. Our retreat group loves the idea of matching each new pastor with a “90 Day Mentor” for the purposes of hanging out, sharing how things are going, answering essential questions like “What do those acronyms mean?” “Where’s the best place to get a sandwich?” Just for the first 90 days. If it’s helpful, you can continue or find another mentor. Truth: Most pastors (I have been one of those pastors) want to jump in, not take any advice, refuse to talk with seasoned pastors for fear they are out-of-touch. They are too busy for mentoring and they want people to believe they have arrived ready-to-go. No assembly required.
- Some of our pastors are such terrible leaders that we wish we could help remove them from professional ministry. Yes, it’s true. At least in in our denomination, we cannot remove a pastor unless he/she has engaged in serious misconduct of a sexual or financial nature. Truth: There is other misconduct that might require moving a pastor out of leadership like bullying, pastoral incompetence, divisiveness, making church about him/her.
- It’s not about us. It’s not about perpetuating an institution. It’s not about job security. It’s not about creating a community with all our favorite people/toys/activities. Truth: Spiritual leadership is about expanding the Kingdom of God.
Any suggestions on your favorite resources for training leaders?