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Just Like Churches, Leaders Can Get Stuck

Often this happens because we are doing (or trying to do) too much.

The larger a church becomes, the more focused the senior pastor needs to be. Every leader reaches a point where they simply cannot accomplish everything on their own. It’s not necessarily a pride issue, but the result of a need for clarity. Let me try to provide some.

Here are the four roles a senior pastor cannot delegate:

1. Primary Spiritual Leader

A pastor’s spiritual leadership is most often manifest in their function as a teacher. This does not mean a church shouldn’t have a teaching team, just that the senior pastor should be the leader of that team. The senior pastor should be the driver of teaching in the church and in this way, lead the church forward into spiritual growth.

2. Primary Leader of Leaders

This role has two functions: leading up and leading around. The senior pastor should provide leadership for the board and elders above them along with their own leadership staff. One person cannot carry the leadership load themselves, so the senior pastor must be intentional about developing the team around them.

3. Primary Vision-Caster

To clarify, the senior pastor does not have to develop the vision on their own. The body of Christ should work together to discern where God is calling the church to go—however, the senior pastor must be the lead communicator of this vision. They are the main voice and advocate for the future of where God is calling the church.

4. Primary Champion of Culture

Culture must start at the top. If the senior leadership team is preaching and teaching values and practices that the senior pastor does not exhibit, there will be disconnect and tension. It is the senior pastor’s responsibility to set the tone for their team and lead the church by example.

Senior pastors are often held back from these areas because they are diving too deeply into the details of execution. They feel more comfortable working on the details then making the hard decisions at the top. This could also occur because they haven’t developed a strong enough team around them, and feel they cannot delegate with confidence. Here are two next steps if this is you:

1. Ask the tough question. Is it because of the leaders around me? If so, develop a 6-12 month plan to provide coaching and have hard conversations with your staff. Make the necessary changes to transform your role into what it is meant to be.

2. Trim the fat. Periodically list out everything you do in your role, then examine the bottom 20%. Figure out how to get rid of those tasks on your plate through elimination or delegation. Return back to the things only you can do.

As the senior pastor, it is your job to be the primary spiritual leader, developer, vision-caster, and champion of culture. Feel empowered to delegate anything else.

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