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The past two years have been a fascinating journey for me. After interacting with and training hundreds of young as well as seasoned pastors in our Ministry Lab Network, one common challenge appears continually:
How does the church match the unique giftedness of each pastor with the particular needs of the congregation?
All too often clergy burn out, and as a result, congregational frustration takes root. This problem arises when a pastor relies solely on his/her own gifts to solve the church’s challenges, instead of developing the ‘space’ for others to use their “gift-mix” of the Holy Spirit. A pastor who is gifted at proclamation finds out that you can’t preach a church into health. A congregation who needs to raise financial resources for facilities cannot put the pastor into the role of being the chief fund raiser if they called him only because of his shepherding gifts. As they say, “If the only tool you have in your kit is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”
In today’s demands, not only do you not need to be the smartest person in the room, it is virtually impossible to be that person. The explosion of knowledge and technology and the sheer velocity of life makes the “sage on stage” role of pastor out of reach.
The liberating news is: we don’t have to know it all!
What we do need to do is create the church culture that allows everyone to play to their strength as the Spirit allows. By becoming a lay leader or clergy who know their own gifts, as well as the gifts of others in the room, the future looks incredibly bright. As Aquinas is attributed to perceiving, “the longer we walk with the Lord our temptation is not so much to do evil, as it is to do the wrong good,” so as leaders in the Body of Christ, the temptation is to use the wrong “good gift” in different chapters of the congregation’s life.
The leader who focuses on releasing the gifts of others is the pastor who loves their call.
It’s exactly as the Lord spoke through Paul to the Corinthian and Roman church on being the best of who we are while allowing the diverse gifts of others blossom as well. Developing training experiences for our leaders vs. just more content and inspiration, is where people discover their “gift-mix”. It is well worth the hassle of creating a fresh church culture, rather than just trying to muscle our congregations ahead on our own.