Leadership and the Ideal Pastor

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Working with pastors, I’m often struck by the diversity among those leading the Church. According to Stanley Hauerwas in the recent edition of Divinity Magazine, this diversity is nothing we should hide from:

Because leadership requires the development of practical wisdom, I worry about the attempt to develop general theories about what makes a good or effective leader.

There can be no generalized, uniform account of the ideal leader because a good pastor has a unique story, knows her own particular gifts, understands her community’s specific needs — and leads accordingly.

So what, then, does it mean to lead as a pastor?

In the same issue of Divinity Magazine, recent Master of Divinity graduate Sanetta Ponton described her transformed understanding of leadership.

After three years [at divinity school], I learned that leadership is born out of faithfulness to the gifts and graces God has placed inside of you.  There is no formula and there are no steps.  Its marker is a humble confidence in God’s magnificent creation in you coupled with the assurance that God will use all He has deposited in you and will complete the work He has begun in you.  For some it is a quiet leadership, faithfully leading your struggling classmates to the foot of the cross every week in prayer.  For others it is a graceful leadership, dancing through the chapel aisles to lead others in worship.  And for others it is preaching the message of the gospel with power, clarity, and conviction, helping to lead some to become more faithful to Christ.  It will look different in each one of us.

May we all serve this season with humble confidence in God’s work in and among us, and may we have the courage to be surprised by and embrace whatever form our leadership takes.

Tommy Grimm

(Image by Flickr user RichardBH /via Creative Commons)

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