Can I Be an Effective Pastor If I Don’t Like Management?
Pastors are not managers, at least in a corporate-business-world-publicly-traded-company-sort-of-way. But pastors are shepherds. And shepherds manage sheep.
Leading a church involves management. A church hierarchy assumes management. And most churches—even smaller congregations—are not completely flat in structure. Even at the most basic level, churches require management. Who pays the bills? When does the meeting start? Who is responsible for snow removal? Who fills the baptistery? What is our policy? Those are basic managerial questions. Most churches are more complex.
Some senior leaders in the church gravitate towards being more like a senior writer or senior analyst. These leaders are recognized for their intellectual contributions but do not have managerial oversight. Many teaching pastors have this type of role in the church. Other senior leaders prefer to manage the minutia and deal with people issues. Many executive pastors have this type of role. Most pastors, however, must both teach and execute.
The vast majority of pastoral roles include management. So, can church leaders be effective if they don’t like management? Yes, but they must compensate in these ways.
Be self-aware. One of the core problems of bad management is poor managers often do not recognize their weak managerial skills. When you’re self-aware about your weaknesses (and willing to admit them), then you’re more likely to receive help from others. No pastor can (nor should) do it all. And all pastors should be self-aware of what they can and cannot do.
Discern what to delegate. Just because you’re naturally good at doing something does not mean you are able to manage others doing the same thing. Some pastors delegate their responsibilities too quickly. Others delegate the wrong responsibilities. And some tasks should never be delegated. Delegation with discernment makes up for a lot of managerial weaknesses.
Don’t fear being the doer. Some people prefer doing tasks. Others prefer managing people who do the tasks. If you cherish a few tasks, then don’t give them up. Keep doing them. For instance, a pastor might enjoy locking the church after the evening service as an opportunity to prayer walk. Or, if you’re an artistic type, there may be certain creative tasks that are difficult to manage. Good church leaders know what select tasks they enjoy most and keep doing them, sparing their followers the inevitable and overbearing micro-management that would accompany overseeing others doing them.
You don’t have to like management to be an effective pastor. But shepherding a congregation does involve managing others. All pastors should both teach and execute. Few master both. If you’re weaker at managing, then you can compensate through self-awareness, discernment, and doing the tasks you enjoy most.
This article was written by Sam Rainer and originally published at churchanswers.com on June 23. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.