One of the sad things that has happened in recent years, especially in the reformed camp of church planting is that pastors and bloggers have become known for being jerks. We have watchdog bloggers, people who are constantly pointing out mistakes in people, creating more and more lines among Christians instead of working together.
Fewer pastors are known as winsome and gracious and more known for being jerks.
If you want to stop any movement, kill any church from having influence in a city, stop any influence you may have long-term with other leaders, be a jerk.
That isn’t the kind of person people follow for a long time. You may get by for a period of time based off of skill, charisma or simply connections, but eventually your colors (in this case, being a jerk) show up.
Here are a few ways to remind yourself as a leader to stay on track and be winsome and gracious:
- Remember your brokenness. The fastest way to become a jerk is to think you have it all together, are beyond sin or can’t fall. Remember your weaknesses, your need for Jesus and that you don’t know it all. Because the jerks online tend to be about pointing sin out in others, this is a hard thing to remember, but crucial. You cannot be gracious without experiencing grace.
- Spend time with people and read people outside of your tribe. They don’t need to be on your reading lists all the time, but read some business books, some books by those you don’t agree with theologically to learn from them. There should be some discomfort when you read instead of always just nodding your head. While you need to be cautious here, but if you are a leader of a church, your theology should be strong enough to be challenged. Also, those books will also tell you what some of the people who show up to hear you preach think and that can be helpful sermon prep. Otherwise, you end up answering questions no one is asking.
- Have some friends who can tell you when you are being a jerk and taking the wrong stand. Whether this is your spouse, an elder, another pastor or blogger, but you need a friend to tell you, “you are being a jerk on that, let it go.” Historically, pastors are terrible friends. We don’t know how to do anything or talk about anything other than church, so we get lost in our world of what other pastors are doing, the latest theology debate, what the blogs are raging about and most people we talk to could care less.
- Take the right stands, but not all of them. A mentor told me once, “be careful the hills you choose to die on because you will die on all those hills and you can’t die that often.” Every issue doesn’t deserve a response from you. Every heresy you see online, some can be let go. That person who spouts out bad marriage advice on Facebook in your church, eventually they are seen for who they are. You can let it go. Someone else can step in. Sometimes though, you need to step up and say something, but when you do, be gracious and winsome.