Recently, our church held a Clergy Appreciation Service and personally, it marked eight years for me as a pastor. Eight years! That got me thinking. So, I’ve “Googled” average pastor tenure and several sites say the average is three to four years. Think about that. On average, in less than five years, the pastor and church will part ways.
I’d like to share some thoughts about this from a leadership perspective for pastors. I know it’s not always the pastor’s fault but maybe this post can help those who are stepping into new positions. Let’s look at King Solomon.
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?””
1 Kings 3:9 NIV
When God offered the young King Solomon anything he desired, Solomon asked for a discerning heart to govern God’s people. He didn’t ask for fortune, fame, or any of the perks of being king. He was personally secure in his position. This is important because insecure leaders expend more energy and bravado trying to secure their positions instead of leading the people. I’ve heard many seasoned pastors say “the moment you have to say ‘I’m the pastor’ you’re not the pastor”. Solomon wasn’t like that. He was already royalty by birth. We can learn from Solomon’s example. As believers, we are born again, joint heirs with Christ, which makes us royalty. The riches of the kingdom of God are ours to enjoy. We don’t need the church to validate us or feed our ego.
Additionally, Solomon was already anointed king of Israel, meaning he was chosen by God to lead the people. In our case, pastors are anointed and chosen as well. You see “pastor” is a gift from the Holy Spirit, not a job or title. Those who are gifted by the Holy Spirit to pastor are already anointed to do the job. However, if you’re a preacher / minister who isn’t gifted to pastor, but you’ve been given that title, you will always struggle because you’re not in your gifted role. Pastors have the royal pedigree and the spiritual anointing to lead God’s people. What more could we need? We need the heart to lead.
Solomon asked God to perform a spiritual transplant by giving him a heart to lead the people under his care. When I talk to pastors who have served one congregation for 10, 20, or 30 years, they all exhibit a genuine love and concern for the needs of their congregations. Today, as pastors, we need to care enough about our congregations to want what’s best for them. Some of our church members have been hurt by previous pastors and are bitter toward us. Some of them have been bruised by everyday life and bring those scars into the church, pointing their pain at everyone, including the pastor.
My pastor told me on many occasions “hurt people will hurt you”. That’s why it’s so important for new pastors to ask God for a discerning heart. Without it, we could mistake aggression for hatred. We could take every outburst personally rather than looking past the hostility to see the church’s true needs. So God, please give our pastors a discerning heart to lead your people, and bring stability to our churches.