One of the dangers that can come from being a Pastor who is a leader is you forget or neglect the fact that you are first and foremost a disciple. Leadership is fun it can be very challenging but is many times rewarding because we look behind us and can count those following us and be encouraged by our weekly mini census. The problem with being a disciple is that it is not glamorous it is not visible. It is difficult and often times painful.
Under-shepherds, pastors, always remember that you are more fundamentally a sheep than a shepherd. – Mark Dever
We as pastors can be so busy getting others to live the Christian life that we forget that the Christian life is a daily dying. It is walking in a moment by moment obedience to the call of Christ and to the cross of Christ.
Youth pastor your job is to preach the gospel to the next generation, absolutely but if you fail to follow Christ primarily, your messages will be shallow, and your ministry will be short. I have pastored at the same church for nearly 20 years and what I have learned is that I want to duck and I want to hide. I have now known most people longer than I have lived my life not knowing them. What that affords me is people speaking truth to me when I need it most, even if I don’t want to hear it.
I have led in times when I wasn’t following well and the ground was as hard and as inflexible as my heart. I find the more I live my life yielded to Christ the more I am concerned with how well I am following. Healthy leadership is most often the byproduct. There are many unhealthy churches in America because there are many unhealthy leaders in America. Pastor, you must preach the cross of Christ not just principles for better living, you must model what it means to deny yourself and carry the cross you preach.
The reason you are called to be a disciple pastor is because discipleship gets the core of our motivation. Many people enjoy leading because leaders are consulted, needed and respected. Disciples are unknown and unremarkable in many ways. The core of discipleship is self-forgetfulness. It is a daily discipline of losing oneself in the person and work of Christ. In my last post on Pastor as Leader, I talked about the need for strong leadership in the church, which I deeply believe it. This post is the rebuttal to my earlier post. Discipleship is core and foundational to leadership. You will never lead well if you have not first learned to follow well.
Self-denial can never be defined as some profusion – be it ever so great – of individual acts of self-torment or of asceticism. It is not suicide, since there, too, a person’s self-will can yet assert itself. Self-denial means knowing only Christ, and no longer oneself. It means seeing only Christ, who goes ahead of us, and no longer the path that is too difficult for us. Again, self-denial is saying only: He goes ahead of us; hold fast to him… Dietrich Bonhoeffer