When was the last time you got lost in an unfamiliar place? The frustration of not knowing where you are going can wear down even the most patient person. Too often, we lead like a lost driver. Aimless. Wandering. Not knowing if anything worthwhile is getting accomplished.
As the Good Shepherd, God is never lost. He always leads well. Psalm 23 beautifully depicts God’s work as our Shepherd:
The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
Notice that shepherding means leadership. God leads His flock to a place of refreshment. In pastoral ministry, the first function of a shepherd is leading. People think of leadership many different ways. Christian leadership, on the other hand, must be people-focused and destination-oriented. Let’s unpack those things with the following question:
Where are you taking your people?
I think a significant problem is “playing church.” When you “play church” you have a bunch of nice programs, but no bigger purpose. You do the same things year-after-year, merely changing the dates on the calendar. There’s no reason to doing what you do; it’s just “the way we’ve always done it.” In such case, ministry becomes aimless and rote. Nothing grows; nothing flourishes.
Growing out of aimless and rote ministry becomes an inordinate focus on church programs. Rather than being about developing people and taking them somewhere, church becomes about managing the program or hitting a “target number.”
The Bible, on the other hand, presents us a model of leadership which is people-focused and destination-oriented:
We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. – Colossians 1:28
After they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” – Acts 14:21-22
In these two passages, we see that ministry is focused on bringing “every man” (people) to maturity (the destination). To put it another way, it’s about bringing disciples (people) into the kingdom (destination).
Moving People “To the Right”
The authors of The Vine Project use the image of a journey to describe the discipleship process. Pastoral leadership means moving people “to the right,” i.e. to the next step toward maturity. So how do we get started on leading our people, or moving them to the right?
Identify your 3-12-70.
Make a list of the key leaders that you will be investing in.These are people you will begin tangibly leading. Your “three” are people you will work most closely with. It probably means weekly investment. Your “twelve” are those leaders involved in your areas of ministry oversight. For example, your small group leaders or coaches would fit into this level. Finally, your “seventy” are all of the volunteers under your oversight.
Develop a definition of the “destination.”
What does maturity look like? Where do you want to lead people to? Of course, the goal is Jesus. We are to be conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29). But what does that look like tangibly? In our church, we have defined a mature disciple as someone who is committed to God’s family, points people to Christ, and blesses others as he/she has been blessed.
Determine the next steps for your key leaders.
How will you move them one step “to the right” on this journey toward maturity? Not only should the destination be specific, but the next steps should be specific as well. It should include when and where you’ll meet, and what you’ll cover. The simplest way I’ve found to lead someone is One-to-One Bible Reading. Pick a passage, discuss it, and apply it to whatever topic you’re going to discuss that day.
I would also suggest having a few “go-to” resources for developing leaders. You should try to know these resources inside and out so that you can pick them up and go! Some of my favorites are:
- The Gospel-Centered Life by Serge
- Total Church by Tim Chester and Steve Timmis
- Preaching by Tim Keller
The Art of Leading Well
Remember our lost driver from before, circling the same city block numerous times? Don’t be that kind of leader. As pastors, we get the awesome responsibility to shepherd people through death into God’s kingdom. Know where you are leading your people and begin taking them there!
The entire Shepherd God’s Flock series:
Part one: Our Job as Pastors
Part two: Leading God’s People
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