I was having lunch with a good friend the other day and he asked me a personal question: “Where do you go for encouragement?”
He knew that senior leadership can be lonely. Senior leaders also have a tendency to both isolate and insulate their lives in dangerous ways. As a senior pastor, I not only help oversee the Church, I give leadership to the leaders. I consider myself a leader among equals but the equality is not always exact. So who leads me? It was a great question and I gave my friend three answers:
1. My first response was to emphasize the transparency I try to maintain among my fellow leaders. I often stop by the offices of each my associates and ask how they’re doing and discuss personal life stuff. This is a source of mutual encouragement. Senior leaders must choose to do this! One time I shared this with an associate pastor from another Church and he got tears in his eyes. He then told me that in about ten years of ministry he cannot recall one time when the senior leader asked him about his life or family. Is this what we mean by plurality of leadership?
2. Secondly, when I need more specific encouragement or counsel, I stop by the office of one of my associates who is exactly the age of my father. He is ahead of me in physical life and in many other areas. I have great respect for him. I like the fact that our staff has leaders at almost every stage of life. The entire Church family benefits from this.
3. My final and most important answer is not something I talk much about. I try to take at least 1 hour each day for intense Psalm 62:8/Hebrews 4:16 engagement with God (with a good dose of the Colossians 4:12 pattern). Frankly, I am not sure I could survive ministry apart from this! God puts His treasure in earthen vessels for a reason. What is it? “… to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us (II Corinthians 4:7). After almost 30 years of pastoral work, I understand with vivid clarity Paul’s question: “Who is equal to such a task?” So I try to practice the rhythm of spiritual activity our Lord followed— one of engagement and withdrawal, of crowds and solitude. “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone” (Matthew 14:23). I simply must get perspective in the audience of One. “Come away” Jesus said, “to a secluded place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). For a few more thoughts: Rhythm of Life and Ministry
“To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.” (Colossians 1:29).