Another great guest post in the Rookie Pastor Paternity Leave series.
For the pastor, the people he chooses to allow into his relational inner circle will be one of the most important decisions affecting ministry. Your spouse will reside in this area, but relying on a spouse alone to be wise counsel, sounding board, and trusted friend is an unfair burden.
Quite commonly and without hesitation, people are picked that artificially build up the pastor’s sense of self. It may be time to take a step back and evaluate who does and does not belong in your pastor’s inner circle. Common personalities to give distance to include:
- Cheerleaders. It is not wrong to have cheerleaders in your life, just not in your inner circle. A cheerleader cheers success (which sets them apart from an encourager). They make you feel valuable. You’ll notice them riding your coattails and showing up at the office or on the phone when something big happens. But, when the success disappears, so will they.
- Those who have a vested interest in your success. It is not unwise to have an elder from your church in your inner circle or a staff member. But refrain from populating your closest friends and advisors with all (or even a majority) of people tied to your success. While godly people, they will have a more difficult time being truthful with you, because they perceive their success as tied to yours. This was my Achilles heal in my associate pastor role at a previous church, and the inability to deal with me truthfully led to my behavior not being challenged.
- Powerful, popular, successful, influential. When these people walk through the door of your church, you notice them along with everyone else. They are a quick fix for your identity, for being friends with them gives your value by association. But like any other idol, you will end up being a slave. Doing what is necessary, sometimes compromising, in order to maintain the relationship.
As you look around in your inner circle, ask yourself – Is this person on the difficult journey to know Christ with me? Are there seasons of give and take in this relationship or is it all give? As I confess to this person, will I be shown compassion? If there is an issue, will they attempt to get to the heart of it or give me commands? Am I willing to be vulnerable allow this person to know the real me?
Do not be passive in this vital area of your life that affects everything, including your ministry.
Scott Perkins has learned the lessons of being a pastor – rookie or not – the hard way and writes from that experience. Presently he is the Director of Connections at Grace Orlando and blogs about identity, spirituality, and relationships at http://choosetotrust.com. You can contact him anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org