Sunday, October 02, 2005

Pastors and Leadership

My recent post on Adam Hamilton's Leading Beyond the Walls has garnered the most comments on any post I've done, replacing only my post on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in number of comments. This is thanks in large part to a conversation between RevWilly and David Allen Grady, and I feel almost as cool as Shane at WesleyBlog and Dean at Untied Methodist, who always have long comment threads on their posts.

Anyway, RevWilly and David started a conversation about what it means to be a leader, and what kind of leaders we are called to be as pastors. Forgive my short summary of their comments, but it started with David asking: do pastors enter ordained ministry because they want to be leaders? Is being a leader the focus of pastoral ministry? Revwilly responds to say that shepherding a flock requires great leadership, and that pastors with thriving churches have great leaders.

I think both have raised some interesting questions. What kind of leaders are pastors meant to be? What is our model of leadership?

A good place for us to start, of course, is with the example Jesus sets for us. But Jesus, rabble-rouser that he was, always was more challenging to the leadership of the religious community than anything else. I've been studying the upcoming lectionary text from Matthew 23:1-12, where Jesus has harsh words for the scribes and Pharisees, who in their leadership, lay great burdens upon others, while reveling in their titles of 'rabbi' and 'teacher', all the while not practicing what they preach. Pastors today are in that same position - we're the religious leaders of our communities. So we stand in leadership with many warnings from Jesus to be very careful about what kind of leaders we are.

What kind of leaders are pastors meant to be? We toss around words like "shepherd" or "servant-leader." What does that mean? I personally have a hard time connecting to the image of shepherd - I'll be honest. We see pretty paintings of Jesus carrying a lamb, but I suspect this isn't a good picture of a shepherd. Was a shepherd in biblical days considered a leader? Should we try to resemble CEOs? How much does leadership have to do with how and what we preach? How about our administrative skills? How much do we need to have those gifts and talents? What about how we dress or how we carry ourselves?

What do you think? What does it mean to be a leader as a pastor?

Who would you lift up as a great example of pastoral leadership?

Do you have a resource on pastor leadership to recommend?
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