Five Unwritten Rules for My Church Leadership

Through my years as a pastor of congregations, I have developed a list of rules that govern my actions. I have never written any of these down until now; they are just simple principles that guide my ministry. You might find them helpful in your ministry or to better understand how I work.

1. Never listen to anonymous input. Repeatedly I receive comments made on the connection cards that are dropped in the offering. They have ranged on topics from the style of music to the clothes I wear. When I see there is no name, I immediately throw it in the trash. If this person cannot confront me personally or sign their name, then it is worthless to me.

2. I don’t listen to comments that include “people are saying.” I have heard this more times than I can count. It always seems to be in the negative form. Something like, “Well, pastor a lot of people are saying they do not like the music lately.” Really? Who? Give me names? I want to talk to these people. And why have they not come to me personally like the Bible instructs? Usually, this is a veiled way for the person to share their feelings and they use plural pronouns to make themselves feel like the majority.

3. Watch actions over words. I have heard dozens of people tell me about how they can do this and that for the Church. They stress how they would make a quality leader if given a chance. They talk a good game. Honestly, I do not care what you did growing up, or at your last Church, I care about what you are doing now. Yes, you may have once been a great servant, but what have you done for the Lord lately. I want to see action not just hear about it.

4. Don’t assume anything. We all know the old joke about assuming. That is because there is an element of truth in the joke. I am not going to believe you will show up and help unless you tell me explicitly. I am also going to try to not assume you hate me just because you didn’t show up. It is easy in ministry to assume the best or worst in people. I try to function on facts rather than assumptions.

5. Move with the movers. I heard John Maxwell say this about 25 years ago. It is still a great piece of advice. I cannot spend all my time with people who have fond memories of the past. I cannot fill my head with the words of people who know how to talk a good game. If the Church is going to go forward, I must connect with the people who are moving forward. The majority of my time is spent with people who are growing, serving and inviting. Yes, I can make sure everyone is pastored, but my biggest investment of time is with people who “get it.”

I am sure I have other rules that guide me, but I only remember them as the situation dictates. These five rules have all been applied in my ministry in the last few months. Hopefully, these will help you in some way as you live and serve the Lord.

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