(This post first appeared at Arrow Leadership)
I remember very well the time that a wonderful elderly lady from the church I was leading, made an appointment to see me. On the day, she came to my office holding a scrumptious cake she had made so we could eat together. She sat down, then proceeded to tell me what a terrible pastor I was. Even though this scenario sounds terrible, it actually wasn’t a bad experience, we had a good discussion- and there was cake! However I did find it interesting to hear her rationale regarding why she thought I could do a little better at pastoring. The issue lay with my title. Since my title was Senior Pastor, the logic went, that meant that I was the one responsible for the overall care of the congregation. The care of the congregation was ultimately up to me and no other. It didn’t matter that we had a Care Pastor and a care team who were responsible for and gifted to care for the congregation, because I was the Senior Pastor, it was basically up to me. That day I became aware of the expectations that some in the congregation may have had around my role and also that I did not share those expectations. The responsibility was all on me and there was little room for a shared sense of ministry with other leaders in the church. I remember feeling burdened by that sense of responsibility. Of course, a role which oversees an organisation will always have that sense of weight and pressure that comes with it, however I feel that leadership should and can be shared. Essentially, there was a dissonance in this encounter around how my friend and I defined church leadership.