Since there weren’t many doors open to him as a young, inexperienced leader, he took a job as a youth pastor.
Our conversation took us to exploring what he could do right now, in his current role, to prepare him for being a Senior Pastor in the future.
If you are in a similar situation, I thought you would appreciate my quick response…
You remind me of myself when I was your age.
Yes, my coaching focuses on current Senior Pastors, simply because when I coach a Senior Pastor it is the church itself that enters into a one-year contracted relationship with me to come alongside their lead guy to help him get exponentially better.
However, let me share a few suggestions for what to do at this stage as you prepare to step into a lead role at some point:
1. Read EVERYTHING you can get your hands on that will help you lead at that next level. I would suggest (though some of these may be out of print): Leaders by Bennis, Organizing Genius by Bennis, Corporate Lifecycles by Adizes, The Art of Pastoring by David Hansen, Courageous Leadership by Hybels, The Master Plan of Evangelism by Coleman, and Type Talk at Work by Kroeger.
2. Find 10 Senior Pastors who seem to have your leadership style and go interview them. Visit their churches. I tell Senior Pastors that I coach to learn their secrets and reflect on how you would go about leading a church from 100 to 1,000 in 5 years.
3. Find your Myers-Briggs personality type and learn about how you are wired to lead. You can discover your type here. Then go get the book Please Understand Me II and reflect on how you are wired for leadership. You need to be yourself in ministry, not a version of yourself others think you should be. Throw away your pastoral theology books and radically pursue being yourself. A fantastic book that is now out of print, but still available to buy used on Amazon is Working Together by Olaf Isachsen. It is HANDS DOWN the best book on how people wired with your personality lead. You need this book. Another resource that is a game-changer for how you approach preaching is a book called Writing and Personality: Finding Your Voice, Your Style, Your Way. It is a resource about how people with your personality approach the task of writing, and since preaching is simply the communication of previously written text and ideas, this will help you immensely. Trust me, skip your next meal to buy this book.
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4. Establish a strong spiritual discipline process right now. I get up at 4:01am every day to read one Psalm, one chapter of Proverbs, and one other chapter from the Bible, then pray through a prayer list. I do this Monday-Friday, take Saturday off, then on Sunday pray for and get ready for church. Discipline yourself now, and that will carry you through the rest of your ministry.
5. Learn how to lead yourself now. Get Wunderlist on your iPhone, Macbook, and iPad, and use that only for keeping track of details, to-do’s, and organizing your priorities. Focus on doing no more than 5 things a day, in order, based on a list you create the night before. Reduce everything in your life down to the bare minimum – bare essentials for a wardrobe, for possessions, everything. Eliminate all extraneous activities in your life, except those for which you are being intentional and strategic. Master the first 90 minutes of your day, by mastering the last 90 minutes of your previous day.
6. Get every chance you can to preach. Not just on Sunday, but at other events. Become a great speaker well before you need to be.
Those are a few things I’d address right now.
Remember, you have a friend in ministry.
Keep in touch.
What other advice do you wish someone had given you BEFORE you stepped into the role of being a Senior Pastor?