Unbelievably it’s been a year since I became the lead pastor at our wonderful church, RCC. As we’ve wrapped up this first year the most frequent question I’ve been asked has been, “After a year here, how do you feel?”. My answer: I feel like I’m becoming the pastor of RCC more each day.
After a year I’ve built some incredible relationships as pastor in many lives, but the truth is not every person that calls RCC home views me as their pastor yet. I had no naive expectation of coming in and replacing lifelong relationships. A pastor coming in to an established church means people have established relationships. For some they’ve spent years with their previous pastors and have developed wonderful relationships with them (as it should be.)
They might see me as “the” pastor, but that’s very different than being seen as “my” pastor. When you’re in the category of “the”pastor they only see you as holding a position. They might follow you to be obedient to God or just be going through the motions of following because others are, but at this point it’s strictly because they’ve been told who is leading.
A pastor’s goal is to ultimately move his church from seeing him as merely holding a position to having a pastoral relationship. When they’ve made this leap they’re following you because of who you are, and what you might have accomplished for the church. You now have some level of trust and credibility. I’ve written about this before when I’ve referenced the 5 Levels leadership.
A leader can’t force or rush the crossing of this relational bridge, but he or she can help it along. Here are the steps I’ve taken to cultivate this transition from holding a position to being someone’s pastor:
1. Consistently making myself available for meetings, meals and appointments.
2. Asking people to share their story.
3. Taking a full year to earn trust and credibility before making any major changes.
4. Providing pastoral care and leadership regardless of how I’m viewed.
5. Loving those who just see me as holding a position unconditionally.
Bottom Line: A leader must earn the right to lead over time through the building of trust.
My prayer is that God will help my leadership be consistent enough so I can be standing there when they cross over.
I’d love to hear from you! What experiences have you walked through as a leader or follower when faced with a leadership transition? Please share below.