I keep seeing a trend. It probably isn’t new, but it has struck me recently.
I’ve talked with different guys who want to plant a church or pastor a church. They are talented, charismatic and smart, but they all have one thing in common.
They don’t attend a church.
They have different reasons: burned out, hurt, overlooked, or often they feel like they know more than anyone else. This last group is always interesting to me because the first step of leadership is being a great follower, being humble and teachable.
If you find yourself too burned out for church, too hurt from church, than you need to pull back and not be in leadership at a church. Don’t rush back in. Take some time to heal, to catch your breath. Too often I think we lose sight of how God wants to use our whole lives and get focused on this day. We don’t have to accomplish all that God has called us to today. Right now may not be your time to accomplish. Right now might be your time to be with God, build your relationship with Him and allow Him to shape some areas of your life to prepare you for what is next.
So what do you do if you want to work at a church but it isn’t happening like you want?
- Attend a great church. This whole post is about this, but don’t miss this point. Find a great church and plug in. Learn all you can. Find great leaders to talk to, read great books and listen to great podcasts. This is a great time to learn because when you are leading, continuing to learn and grow becomes very difficult.
- Ask, “Why not now?” I think we get so focused on what we want, and get disappointed or bitter when it isn’t happening, that we fail to ask, “Why isn’t God opening the doors I want right now? What am I not ready for?” Don’t miss that last question. I believe God often keeps us from things because we aren’t ready for them.
- Focus on what God is teaching you and what you can learn right now that will be helpful in the future. Once you uncover why not now, dig into that. What does God want to show you from that right now? I remember a hard season 10 years ago when God had us in a holding pattern and I was not doing any leading. God was shaping me for what would come. It was hard and painful, but it was one of the most fruitful times of my life because I am still reaping the benefits of that learning time.
- Be great at whatever you do at a church. Too many young leaders want to simply lead and get paid for it right now. That may be the case for you, or it might be later or never. Don’t be so focused on a full-time job; focus on leading and using your gifts wherever you are. If you do great work, have integrity, do much with what you are given, God will honor that. On top of that, churches will want more of what you do and will place you into leadership. So become indispensable to a church.
While you may feel like a failure if you want to be a pastor and you aren’t right now, you are not a failure. We have elevated pastoring above leading in the marketplace or being a teacher or lawyer or owning a small business, and it is hurting many people who otherwise would be productive Christians. Not everyone should work full-time at a church.