July 27, 2009

Personality & the Pastor

Not even a year ago I found myself catching up with an old friend. Like me, he's in ministry. At the time we were both sensing that the Lord was preparing us for something new - readying us to step out in faith in a new season of ministry. In our conversation he said something to me that - as someone preparing to become a pastor - really hit me upside the head. He told me, "I think I've come to the realization that we've built a church on my personality. And my personality can only take us so far." He was worn out, weary, burdened...and convinced that this was NOT what the Lord had in mind. It took me awhile to really absorb what he had said. Maybe you need a minute to let it soak in as well.

As these words stayed on the surface of my mind, and we spent the weekend seeing the Lord move & work in the lives of students, I was floored by the amount of humility it had to take to not only come to this conclusion - that I've been trying to build a church on my personality & charisma - but to share that with someone else. My respect for my friend went through the roof! I already had an enormous amount of love, respect & trust for him, but now I knew, "This guy is the real deal!"

Lately, I've been reminded several times that as a Pastor there are certain things the Lord has called me to that must take priority - the bottom line, if you will. As I read Ed Stetzer's blog even today, the mandate of Ephesians 4:12 was put back in my face: my "responsibility is to equip God's people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ." Am I equipping God's people? Am I cultivating "innovators" rather than "commentators" (as Mark Batterson put it)? Are we - as a church - equipping, empowering, and releasing people to BE the church?

Most pastors (if nothing else but by nature of personality) are going to have some level of charismatic Type A personality. We're in front of people - leading people - put in a position of capturing people's attention. But one thing we better remember (even in the case of - hold onto your hat - Billy Graham) there is a vast difference between a preacher and a pastor.

Cue the distinctions in Ephesians of the gifts to the church: "the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors & teachers." There are times when those of us the Lord has called to pastor are tempted to try and put one foot in the world of being an "evangelist" while juggling the call & responsibilities that come with being a pastor. And while maybe there are a select few out there who can pull this off (and probably these are the same people who can juggle the flaming torches while spinning plates on the nose), the majority of us human pastors better think again. WHY? Because trying to pull off this juggling act will almost always result in trying to build, grow & lead our church simply out of our own personality. And while you may have the charisma & ZANG-POW! of Brad Pitt, Regis Philbin & Bono rolled into one...it will only take you so far. It will only take your church so far.

What is the Lord calling you to do?
Have you made the distinction?
Do you have the courage?
Yes, you do!

Thanks again to my friend for his humility. And praise God that he is serving, thriving, and being used by the Lord like never before!

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