The First Thing Every Leader Should Do
"Because no matter how gifted you are, there ...
Your ministry has spanned more than five decades. What has been the most challenging aspect of your ministry to date and how did God give you the victory over it?
I think the most challenging aspect of Ministry has been dealing with Henry Wright–the person; accepting what ministry was meant to do for me and that’s to correct me, shape me and mold me…by keeping me on my knees. But in terms of actual professional challenges it was taking a little church in Alexandria, Virginia with forty-seven members and working under God to develop into a 1200 member church with 2.5 million dollars in tithe. Taking nothing, and with God making it something. The Lord gave me a process and an approach; learning how to assess, learning to measure, setting goals, and working with people to develop them…working with able people to develop them.
Short tenures seem to give rise to ministry manipulators in the local church who seek to maintain control of the church at all costs and by any means. How would you counsel a pastor to handle these types of toxic influencers?
The pastor has to get to know his people. People like that you gotta spend time with. You can’t just preach to them from the pulpit. You take people out to lunch. You go to their homes. You find out what shaped them. And too many times pastors try to run from people like that and try to avoid them. Get to know them. I have found that some of the most difficult people in my church become some of my closest friends. I was able to practice what Dr. Stacy Nelson talked about [in the first morning presentation] to lovingly correct people and tell them about themselves. Not scolding them, but kindly. “Brother _____, you seem to like to be in charge. Help me with that. That attitude is causing a problem. Am I reading you wrong?” That kind of thing.
The pastorate can be very stressful and at times all-consuming. What are some things you would recommend a pastor to do to maintain balance in his/her personal, emotional and spiritual life?
Have a personal exercise program and a social program. My social program is my wife and my kids. There’s not a week that goes by that I don’t do something with Carol. I exercise everyday, and my hobby is my yard. So exercise, a hobby and social interaction with people close to you. That drains you and gets rid of some of the junk.
I have heard numerous young pastors express frustration and difficulty with finding strong mentorship and greater camaraderie in ministry. What are some things that pastors and administrators can do to develop more collegiality?
I think that conference presidents and conference leaders need to be more conscious of creating those opportunities. In our conference we have what we call “Lead Groups” where pastors get together once a month and we’re required to do so, but it’s no longer a requirement; it’s a joy. And they promote that fellowship. In other words, conferences have to make it intentional. Brotherhood programs, mentoring programs, fellowship programs because pastors tend to be loners. You almost gotta…I hate to use the word–make us!