When I think about the people who have loved and led me well, a clear picture quickly forms in my mind. This picture isn’t associated with famous names or earthshaking accomplishments, but rather silent hero’s of the faith. It’s the willingness each of them have to invest in me that distinguished them as valuable mentors, leaders and pastors in my life. If you want to help people step toward fruitful ministry, your ability to pastor them well is essential.
At a season in my life when I could have gone a dozen different directions, it’s that pastoral influence that help me gather my thoughts and concentrate my focus on a greater vision of God’s work in my life.
Since my days in the company of those men, I’m compelled by a desire to continue the work they began in me and carry it through into the lives of others. I’ve seen myself as more than a worship leader or someone who sings songs for a community, but rather a pastor to those who I’ve been given to lead, a servant to the people who God places in my life, and a model who gives the same grace that has been given to me.
There is nothing more important than loving people.
There is nothing more important than loving people. There is no leader with lasting success that hasn’t learned this lesson either. Here are the 4 things I’ve learned as those Godly mentors have modeled pastoral leadership over the years.
1. Know People
Mr Rogers, the famous children’s television show host always carried a card in his pocket that said: “You can learn to love anybody once you know their story.” This is a great place to start as you begin to pastor your people: Get to know them. Beyond their ability and what they do for your team or ministry. Get to know them as people. What is their faith history? Where did they grow up? Who is their family? How did they get involved / invited into the church? How well do they know Jesus?
Knowing who you’re working with is vital to the success of a team, because it enables leaders to motivate by design—not guess work. Know your people and you’ll lead them better. Make it a point to know their story and they’ll know you love them too.
2. Give People Access
My mentors have always been folks who, in spite of their busy life, had time for me.
They gave me access by letting me in on their life and work. Watching my mentors walk out their struggles with dignity and wisdom gives me something to learn as I watch them live. We don’t need untouchable heros as a leader, but an someone who is vulnerable, real and transparent with the things they’re dealing with. People need a leader with whom they can relate with.
Give your people access to your time and life, and you too will become relatable. I’ll trade 10 sermons for 10 minutes to watch a great leader handle a conflict or have a difficult conversation. That kind of access is empowering to people you’re mentoring, and nothing prepares you for life like watching somebody live it well.My mentors have always been folks who, in spite of their busy life, had time for me. Click To Tweet
3. Call People Up
The better you know somebody personally, the more enabled you are to speak instruction and reproof into their life. Having a difficult conversation or asking for personal improvements are easiest when they’re reinforced by an intentional and earned relationship. It’s easy to hear a difficult word from someone who has made the effort to know you for who you are…not what you do. Don’t be afraid to speak the truth in love to the people you lead. The best people on my teams are the ones who I’ve had the honor of challenging to another level. Calling somebody up is a risk, but the risk is almost always worth taking. Never enable an ego at the cost of the team. It’s never fruitful and both the person and the team suffer. Create a culture of artistic progress and call for it from your people. If you don’t, you forfeit the right to expect anything better from them and you enable mediocrity and unfaithfulness.Calling somebody up is a risk, but the risk is almost always worth taking Click To Tweet
4. Pray For People
A wise pastor once told me, “If you want to have influence in a person’s life, pray for them.” The first place a leader should launch from is their knees. Influence is hard to come by, especially godly influence. Getting to know someone by praying for them invokes the supernatural mystery of the Holy Spirit and what a welcome presence he is when we lead and love well. Where better to take the spiritual pulse of your people than by calling out their name in prayer? There is a person in my life who calls me from time to time to say that they’re praying for me, and then they offer specific thoughts on what God led them to pray on my behalf. It’s always the most refreshing (and accurate) insight for me. Consequently, I’d follow that person to the ends of the earth if they needed me. I’m loyal to them because they’ve proven that they want God’s best for me and loved me enough to pray about it.
Mentoring and pastoring people is not easy work, but it’s an honor that gets its luster with time and it’s loving people in the process that is the model of Christ. Love first. Lead well.
P.s. there’s a great video from Ryan Leak over on SALT University (for members) that is worth watching about praying for people, and extending our reach beyond our community. Check it out here.