To Pastors: A Pastor and His Staff
"I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD." Jeremiah 23:4
Four years ago I accepted the call to become the Lead Pastor at Cherokee Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It was and is my first pastorate. I was nervous, scared out of my wits, and at the same time excited for God's new call on my life. I served for over 20 years as a Youth Pastor and spent a few years as a full-time evangelist. I had always admired the pastors that I served with and was very content that I did not have their call on my life! I knew that if I somehow destroyed a youth ministry, the church could clean up my mess and the resiliency of students would overcome my debacle. Pastoring was different. If you mess up an entire church the Lord might not let you into Heaven! I respected the position of Lead Pastor, but I did not want it. However; God spoke to my heart with a clear call to pastor and I knew that obedience was the only option. Soon after I surrendered to HIs call (two days later), Cherokee Hills contacted me. To make a long story short; on the weekend of July 4, 2014 I was voted in as their new Lead Pastor. I was immediately the new leader for CHBC and inherited a staff of men that I either hardly knew or did not know at all. Mark Stapp was the Associate Pastor and had been at CHBC for 16 years. Dustin Loehrs was the Worship Pastor and arrived a couple of years before I did. Brian Meister was the Youth Pastor and had been there for 4 years. Lee Roland was the part-time Children's Pastor and was fairly new. As I met with them for the first time I shared my heart and vision as a Lead Pastor. Not for the church, but for them. Our staff has changed a bit in 4 years, but my heart and vision for my co-laborers, my brothers, has not. I would like to share that heart and vision with you.
LOVE. I let them know that I loved them already and that I would do my best to prove it to them. My heart in proving to them that I loved them rested in a few simple ways. I set their hearts and minds at ease by letting them know that I believed that God had supernaturally called each of them to serve at CHBC and that my calling was to join with them. They didn't have to look over their shoulders or wonder if I had someone in mind for their positions. Your team needs to know that you are on their side and that you want them there.
My position as Pastor makes me the leader, but I wanted my guys to know that we are a team. That each of them was respected and would not just be heard, but listened to. Your team needs to know that you trust their heart, wisdom, and input. When we sit at the table together we are equals. I try to keep the "Pastor Card" locked away and try to only use it sparingly.
I let them know that my first priority for them is their spiritual well-being. That I would keep them accountable in their walk with God and challenge them to grow in faith and in their calling. We study the Word together, pray together, and challenge each other.
Loving them included loving their families. It is important for the Lead Pastor to guard the families of his staff. As the Pastor, I must recognize when my guys need to slow down and take a break. I must be in tune with how much time they are spending away from their wives and children. I do not ever want any of my staff's families to resent the church or ministry. Allowing ministry families to be neglected on our watch is unacceptable. Suggest days off. Send them home early. Treat them to lunch. Take care of the families entrusted to you. Most ministers will work themselves to death for you, don't burn them out.
THE 51% RULE. The night our team gathered for the first time, I shared my 51% rule with them. I told them that if they didn't spend at least 51% of their day doing what they are called to do and passionate about, it is their own fault. As the Pastor I can guard and protect my staff and put them in a position to spend a majority of their day functioning inside of their calling. The looks on their faces were priceless! It has been a joy to watch them flourish! They love what they do and love being at CHBC! It blesses my heart to see them be who God made them to be. Ministry forces all of us to have to do things we don't love or are not passionate about, but if we can be in our wheelhouse 51% of the time ministry will give us life and not suck it out of us.
BIGGEST FAN. I told my staff on day 1 that I would be their biggest fan and advocate. That I would celebrate their successes and defend their honor. I want my guys to shine as bright as the Lord will let them shine. Even when they shine brighter than me. I want them to know that they are valued. That they are the best. And that I am for them! Many pastors today allow insecurities and jealousy to stand in the way of being a fan of their staff members. This should not be so. We must encourage our ministers in the daily grind and celebrate their accomplishments and moments. Even a bad dog needs to be petted every once in a while! As a Pastor our words and actions to our staff have incredible power to build up or tear down. Let's build up.
I absolutely LOVE the squad I have today! Mark is still here and is the consummate shepherd. Brian still leads our students, but his ministry blesses every generation in our church. David Skinner joined our team last October and has already made in incredible impact on our Children's Ministry and our church. Cameron Frank is our Media Arts Jedi with a pastor's heart. He makes We are currently waiting on God's man for our Worship Ministry. The best parts of serving with these guys are the calls on their lives and the fact that they are not just my staff... They are my friends and brothers.