For Senior Pastors to thrive they must discover, and then operate within, the framework of their unique God-given style of doing ministry; in what I call their “Senior Pastor Archetype.”
Most leaders, I’ve discovered, spend YEARS fighting against their natural archetype because (a) they’ve never taken the time to discover who they are, (b) the way their mentors modeled ministry for them was decidedly different than how they’re wired, and (c) people in their churches prefer the style of ministry of your predecessor (or the style of the pastor of their most recently attended church).
The secret to thriving in ministry is to figure out how God wired you for ministry and stop fighting against your natural style. Discover who you are, accept how you are wired as valid, and then shape the church you serve around who you are as a Senior Pastor. You do this and you’ll drive congregational impact and experience personal fulfillment.
After coaching dozens of people from every denomination, age, personality type, and theological perspective, I’ve found that Senior Pastors fall into one of twenty different Senior Pastor Archetypes.
Steps To Discovering Your Senior Pastor Archetype
There are six steps to discovering your unique Senior Pastor Archetype.
STEP 1: Discover your primary ministry preference.
Teaching – If you look forward to teaching God’s word on Sundays, and enjoy spending time time during the week studying and preparing the most effective ways possible to bring about life-change on the part of your listeners, then teaching is your primary ministry preference.
Leading – If you love casting vision on Sundays, and naturally know what to do next, why that’s important, and understand how to direct people, money, time and energy to accomplish organizational goals, then leading is your primary ministry preference.
Pastoring – If you look forward to Sunday mornings so you can establish personal connections with people to encourage them, and jump at opportunities during the week to get more deeply connected in your people’s lives, then pastoring is your primary ministry preference
Evangelizing – If you see Sunday morning as an opportunity to lead people to Christ, and reflexively take advantage of every opportunity during the week to share the gospel with outsiders, then evangelizing is your primary ministry preference.
Administrating – If you see Sunday as a logistical and administrative opportunity to help the entire team function effectively, and you like to spend time during the week identifying and establishing procedures to affect ministry excellence, then administrating is your primary ministry preference.
So which one are you?
Here are two questions to help you decide:
- If I could only do ONE thing on Sundays (and during the week), which one would it be?
- Which task brings great joy AND am I best at?
Now rank these five priorities from 1 to 5.
STEP 2: Identify your secondary ministry preference.
This should be easy. It will be the one you were BARELY able to decide is in second place.
STEP 3: Combine your primary and secondary preferences to form your unique Senior Pastor Archetype.
Below you will find the twenty-five unique combinations of ministry preferences found among Senior Pastors in the trenches.
So which one are you?
I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that the key to understanding how you’re wired is recognizing that your primary and secondary preferences work in partnership with one another.
For instance, I am a Leading Teacher. I lead reflexively, like in my sleep. I don’t have to think too much about it. It just comes naturally. When I ask the question, “What am I great at?” I say, “Compared to the other preferences (and not to someone like Warren, Stanley or Groeschel obviously) it is leading with teaching coming in a hair behind. I LOVE both. But if the world was going to end and my family was going to die if in the next week I refused to operate solely in one lane, I’d say leadership. But it would be a fight.
The question to ask yourself is, “What comes easiest and provides the greatest impact for the church I serve?”
I know for a fact I’m not an Administrating Senior Pastor. Oh heavens no. Nor am I a Pastoring Senior Pastor.
STEP 4: Get objective feedback from five people who have seen you serve as a Senior Pastor for more than two years.
What would the five people who know you well say your primary and secondary preferences are?
This past summer a trusted friend helped me discover that evangelism is a VALUE I hold, but its not a GIFT I possess. I was devastated. Admitting this to myself was incredibly difficult because we’re an outreach-focused church committed to growing through conversion growth only.
But acknowledging that to myself (and others) has been liberating. Why? Because I’ve recruited people to help pick up that ball and run with it. No matter how gifted I THOUGHT I was at it, other people around me knew evangelism wasn’t a primary or secondary preference. I was holding the church back with my lack of self-understanding.
I have a friend that is the Senior Pastor of a large multi-site church. He knows that teaching is neither his primary or secondary ministry preference. His Senior Pastor Archetype is “Administrating Leader.” Admittedly he’s just not that great as a preacher, so what did he do? He hired a guy to WRITE his sermons. I mean that staff member doesn’t just organize the sermon and teaching team. He LITERALLY writes his sermons for him.
Now for those of you who grew up in church-world, I guarantee that hairs are standing up on your neck.
Why must you write your own sermons? Where is that in the Bible? His church is THRIVING and making a kingdom impact BECAUSE he recognizes his unique style and doesn’t pretend otherwise.
Are you a Pastoring Administrator? Don’t have a lick of evangelistic or leadership sense? OWN THAT. Be who God created you to be and bring people to the table who can support you in your role!
Don’t accept the unfounded lie that you must have certain gifts to operate in your role as a Senior Pastor.
Be who God created you to be for his glory and the church’s health.
STEP 5: Readjust your self-understanding based on the feedback you received.
After getting honest feedback, go back and adjust your Archetype accordingly.
STEP 6: Accept that this is how God created you as a Senior Pastor and shape your ministry priorities accordingly.
It was Emerson who said, “Every institution is the lengthened shadow of one person.”
I believe that, especially in church-world.
The question isn’t whether or not the church will take on your persona. It will. The question is whether the church will take on your fake persona concocted to please some unknown group of people, or will it take on the accurately aligned and focused archetype in which God created you to operate?
Pick the lane in which you’ll make the greatest impact and experience the greatest joy.
Then stay in it.
If you know of a Senior Pastor that would find this helpful, please pass this article along to them. Thanks!