How to support a visionary leader
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Have you ever felt the tension of appreciating your pastor's vision while being frustrated by rapid-fire requests and changes in direction?
You value his desire to reach people with the Gospel, make disciples and lead a thriving church. You want to support him in those efforts, but you're exhausted trying to keep the day-to-day stuff running smoothly and making his latest idea happen.
The church administration role tends to attract detail-oriented planners who prefer stability over a rapidly changing environment. But visionary pastors may feel restricted by routine and want to shake things up, try out a new idea or wonder why it's taking so long to implement their last request.
The pastor needs an administrator who can keep the wheels running smoothly and who knows what it will take to achieve his vision. The administrator needs a visionary pastor to come up with ideas and keep the big picture in mind. The challenge is in working effectively together without driving each other crazy.
Here are several tips to help you support your visionary pastor and keep your sanity:
Tip 1: Pray for him
It's difficult to be upset with someone when you pray for him. Ask God to give your pastor wisdom and direction. Also, ask God to help you communicate effectively with your pastor.
Tip 2: Ask clarifying questions
When he asks for an update on a task he assigned to you 30 minutes ago (that will take several hours to complete) and wants you to start working on another project that's "extremely important," ask which task he wants you to finish first.
"I'm happy to do whatever you want. I just need to know if you want me to finish task A first or task B."
Tip 3: Recognize the knowledge gap
When your pastor asks you to handle multiple efforts and seems to want them all done yesterday, remember he doesn't realize what it will take to complete those projects. He probably doesn't have the gift of administration nor is he well-versed in managing HR matters, creating financial reports, dealing with facilities maintenance schedules and more.
He doesn't need to become an expert in those areas, but you need to help him understand why it will take you more than 10 minutes to "throw those numbers together."
You also may need to communicate the trade-offs inherent in having you drop everything to work on a new project. Are you trying to get year-end donation receipts out on time? Do you have to finish preparing the budget analysis for a committee meeting? Is the staff depending on you to process purchase requests so they can buy items for an upcoming event?
Your pastor probably doesn't know what's already on your to-do list and therefore can't help you prioritize if you don’t communicate. Tell him what you're already working on and ask if this new project takes higher priority.
If so, that's his call. However, if you don't inform him of the conflicting priorities, he may get understandably frustrated later when you don't finish other important tasks on time.
Tip 4: Be proactive
Start anticipating his requests as you get to know what your pastor wants and how he best receives information. If he's asked for a similar piece of information a few times in the last month, turn that into a report and send it to him weekly.
If you keep getting the impression that every request of his is "urgent," start asking him when he wants you to fulfill the request when he makes it. He may not need it until next week, but by his mannerisms, you guess it's a "drop everything and make this happen" task.
Don't assume — ask.
Tip 5: Have regular one-on-one meetings
If you don't have them already, ask about setting up weekly or biweekly meetings with just you and the pastor.
Use this as a time to review what you're working on, what you have coming up and any questions you have for him. Ask how you can better serve the church and support him.
Visionary leaders come up with incredible ideas that advance the Gospel and bring more people to Christ. Value the different gifts God has placed within each of you and find ways to leverage those gifts together for His Kingdom.
As you support a visionary pastor, use these tips to improve communication and help him achieve the vision.
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