Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Pastor as a Transforming Leader (Pt 6) - Pitfalls

As we complete our observations on the identity and ministry of the pastor as a transforming leader, I believe it is also good to look at some pitfalls he should be careful to avoid. Being a transforming leader means extending God’s Kingdom. This is something that will meet with resistance from Satan. It behooves us to remember that spiritual conflict is also involved and that Satan will do whatever he can to bring the transforming leader down. Sometimes it can be through the pastor-leader’s fleshly weaknesses or by transforming virtues into vices, like steadfastness into stubbornness, patience into indecision, etc. The pastor-leader must not forget that he is still not fully transformed and is still prone to sin. If he does not walk carefully, he too can fall. The tragedy, as we can see in current examples, is that his fall does not only affect himself but also the church people whom he ministers to as well. That is why he is a special target of Satan. Therefore, it is good to consider the following which are some examples of pitfalls the pastor has to heed:

In dealing with people, the pastor must expect conflicts to arise as all believers are “works-in-progress” and therefore prone to sin. We can see from Paul’s example that he does not avoid handling it (The dispute between Euodia and Syntyche in Phil 4:2, 3 and factionalism in 1 Cor 1:1 – 13). The pastor-leader should be sensitive enough to know the hostile under-currents that develop and threaten the harmony and continuity of the project.

At the core of the pastor-leader’s ideology should be the thought that Christ is the head of the church and every believer, including the leader, a member called to perform a specific task. Blackaby (Spiritual Leadership) tells us that the leader must guard against thinking only he has the ability and the depth of insight to run the organization successfully. If not careful, he becomes unteachable in his pride and impatient with his followers. He must also remember that Jesus should get the glory and should humbly direct all praise to Jesus. All this simply means he should not consider himself a leader but as a member of Christ’s body who serves by leading.

We have earlier seen that in God’s Kingdom, people matter above programs. While the goal of transforming his environment and extending God’s Kingdom is a laudable one, he should look at the forest and yet not forget the trees that make up the forest. Nehemiah 5 gives us one biblical example of maintaining people sensitivity against being goal-oriented. Halfway through the rebuilding of the wall, the people brought their social and economic problems to him. Rather than rebuking them for distracting him from a “great project”, Nehemiah takes time off to mediate and solve their problems. He knew that the well-being of the people and not the project should always be uppermost in the leader’s mind. The modern-day pastor should bear this always in mind and guard against thinking only of the goal and brushing the people aside.

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