Culture Building Memo #1: What kind of leader are you?

Our first job can set the course for our lives. Pastor and author Eugene Peterson faced the question of leadership in his first assignment as an assistant pastor.

It was soon apparent that I didn’t fit. I had supposed that I was there to be a pastor: to proclaim and interpret Scriptures, to guide people into a life of prayer, to encourage faith, to represent the mercy and forgiveness of Christ at special times of need, to train people to live as disciples in their families, in their communities and in their work. In fact, I had been hired to help run a church and do it as efficiently as possible: to be a cheerleader to this dynamic organization, to recruit members, to lend the dignity of my office to certain ceremonial occasions, to promote the image of a prestigious religious institution. I got out of there as quickly as I could decently manage it.

Instead of being a spiritual leader, Peterson was tempted to become an institutional leader — “a cheerleader to a dynamic organization.” A pastor or leader’s first step as a culture builder is to shift from being an institutional leader to a disciplemaking leader. How can you begin to make this shift?

It starts with taking the disciplemaking tithe. As a pastor or leader, decide to devote 10% of their time to discipling others — whether one-to-one or in small groups. Two practical steps turns this commitment to a reality.

The first step is for the church board or council. They may need reminding that the primary job of a pastor is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:12)” rather than running a ministry institution. The Scriptures, not church tradition or congregational expectations, must be the guide.

The second step is for the pastor. He or she must begin a process of examining their current schedules and commitments to arrive at a schedule that represents a 10% commitment to disciplemaking. This could mean training and delegating hospital visitation to others or turning down one more class to teach.

What kind of leader are you? To build Great Commission cultures, we must move from being an institutional leader to a disciplemaking leader. Are you ready to start this new journey by taking the disciplemaking tithe?

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