Chances are you’ve met pastors and church leaders from a variety of backgrounds, theological positions, denominations, and church size. Thinking about the external diversity among pastors leaves me very thankful for the way the Lord is gathering not just a people from every tribe, tongue, and language, but pastors from these assorted groups as well.
But, there is another type of diversity amongst pastors that is a little more nuanced. It might be called an internal diversity. And this diversity has more to do with emphasis on certain characteristics amongst pastors and church leaders.
I believe we all have the same foundation, which is faith in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 3:11) but how that plays out amongst godly leaders can look different. Some have a strong emphasis on clarity and truth, others on love and charity, others still on building up the saints, while others focus on evangelizing the lost.
Too often we go wrong in our assessment of one another or even ourselves by believing that those who emphasize differently than us do not care about the other points of emphasis. A common scenario is the leader who is passionate about the lost believing that those who are passionate about the encouragement of the saints are somehow negligent in seeking the lost. And vice-versa.
We would do well to remember that Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12 apply not only to the body but to leaders also, “Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:4).
We’re not all going to emphasize the same passion for the same aspects of ministry, and that is not something to bemoan or even come to terms with and begrudgingly accept, but something to celebrate. Ultimately it should be freeing for us to know God has gifted other pastors for different works as we seek to understand what we are about.
As a younger pastor who has been pastoring for almost eight years, I have finally just begun to feel like I might know what I am about — not having to emulate my heros, or take on a persona not my own, but growing up into maturity of who I am.
If it takes 300+ sermons to “find our voice,” as Tim Keller says, then why wouldn’t it take just as long if not longer to figure out what “type” of pastor we’re going to be? Where will your emphasis lie? I’m not going to be a perfect leader; I’m not going to be amazing at everything and that’s why I need Jesus. But I can both discover and grow into the leader he has wired me to be along the way.
Discovering What You’re About
I’m still in-process here, but as I pay attention to what I find most attractive in leaders both historical and living, what I am naturally drawn towards in my conversations, what I desire not just for myself but for the people I lead to know about Jesus, and what touches my spirit, helps me make sense of what I am about.
What about you, pastor? What drives you in ministry more than anything else? What is God calling you to emphasize for the sake of the body? And how can you partner with other ministry leaders for the sake of the Gospel out of your respective strengths? Spend the time digging into these questions and let what you uncover shape your ministry to the saints and the lost for God’s glory and his Kingdom.