Pastor, the first person you need to lead is yourself.


Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

If you’re married, do you remember the night before your wedding? I do. My wife says I was acting strange, even a little standoffish. No, it wasn’t because I was apprehensive about marrying this stunningly beautiful, sweet, gentle woman. But rather, as I thought about the weight of being a husband, I was a little overwhelmed; okay, I was big-time overwhelmed! I was now moving from a season of life where I was only responsible for myself to one where I would be responsible for someone else.

As I examined my life, I saw areas in which I wasn’t living in accordance to my beliefs, values, and convictions. I’m not referring to a pattern of outright rebellion or embracing heretical doctrine. Rather, I’m referring to areas in my life I needed to tighten up. Examples such as spiritual disciplines, finances, and discernment between needs and wants were emblazoned on the forefront of my mind. And as I thought about this awesome responsibility I was simultaneously elated and scared. I whispered in the quietness of my heart, “Nate, you need to do better.” I don’t mean better in terms of meriting God’s favor, because as a Christian I embrace the amazing truth that I have God’s favor because I have repented of my sins and placed my faith in His Son Jesus. What I do mean is that I needed to do a more faithful job in leading my life in such a way that honors Jesus and consequently honor my bride.

But how do you lead yourself? What does that look like? Is there a grid you evaluate yourself on? Are there questions to ask? What are the metrics to ascertain whether you are doing a good job or a poor job?

Craig Hamilton in Wisdom in Leadership: the how and why of leading the people you serve posits several questions that he has gathered over the years to make sure he’s doing okay and headed in the right direction. Here are several:

  • Is my character submitted to Christ?
  • Is my commitment solid?
  • Is my vision clear?
  • Is my pride subdued?
  • Are my fears in place?
  • Is my pace sustainable?
  • Does my family recognize me?
  • Am I still learning?
  • Is my capacity for loving people deepening?
  • Is my heart for God increasing?

I would add several more:

  • Do I have a clear finish line to a work-day?
  • What do I do for rest?
  • Do I have friends that I have given the freedom to speak into my life?
  • How do I respond to criticism?
  • Am I regularly spending time talking with the Father?
  • Am I desperate for God’s presence and power in my life?
  • Am I regularly confessing my sin to the Father?
  • Am I regularly confessing my sin to brothers or sisters in my life?
  • Where or to whom do I go when I sin?
  • Am I resting in the finished work of Jesus or am I attempting to merit God’s favor in my life?

Pastor-leader, before you lead others, you need to grow accustomed to leading yourself. And if this resonates with you and you’re certain you need to tighten up some areas, ask God to give you the grace and the courage to take one step at a time. 

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