Amidst the great food and laughter, we broached some serious topics related to leading a growing church.
One issue that struck me in particular was the way we senior leadership guys tend to blow off steam when we’re with our staffs.
All of us around the room shared countless instances of being overcome with fatigue and pressure and then going into our staff meetings and dumping. Not unloading in the sense of taking out our anxiety and pressure on the people we serve, but using our staff situation as an opportunity, as one Senior Pastor put it, “to indulge.”
As the conversation moved to even deeper levels of sharing we began to discuss what a strange position those of us who lead from the stage find ourselves in.
On the one hand the pressures of ministry can be emotionally toxic. We need to be able to share our pain and commiserate with someone else with skin on them.
On the other hand, we can all attest that the more we do that with our staffs, the more it hurts our leadership.
So how do we use our staff situation as an opportunity and not to indulge?
Blowing Off Steam with Your Staff
First, we can walk into a room and change the atmosphere of the place in a heartbeat. One guy shared that a good friend of his on his staff eventually went to him and said, “Stop it. We can’t take it anymore. You kill the mood in the room every time you walk in.”
Second, we model what we want our staffs to model for others. It’s like a chain reaction. You spill your garbage on your staff. They take a bucket, fill it up, add their own to it, and then dump it on their team. By the time it reaches the people in the pew, well, it’s not a pretty picture.
I tell Senior Pastors that I coach, that the atmosphere at our church starts with us.
To me, I guess, doing this platform leadership gig is all about what you have to give up. Philippians 2 talks about what Jesus gave up.
Not using your position to indulge. We must give up using those on the payroll around us as our own 24/7 pastoral support group.
Pursuing the Spiritual Discipline of Joy
That’s hard for a guy like me who tends to wear his emotions on his sleeve. And it’s especially hard when I begin to ask, “Who, then, other than my spouse (because I don’t want to dump on her too much either) can I dump with?”
Other pastors? Non-staff guys inside the church I can trust? Who?
More than anything I’m coming to realize that to try to identify healthy outlets for venting is only dealing with the surface part of the issue.
The real issue, at least for me, is learning the spiritual discipline of joy.
Do I really need to dump, or do I need to learn how to craft an attitude about suffering and life that makes pastors break out in song when they’re chained in a Philippian jail?
As a Senior Pastor, how do you continue to develop the spiritual discipline of joy?