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10 ways pastors can be great bosses

| by Thom Rainer

Just as there can be bad pastor-bosses, there are example of great pastor-bosses. They are the kind of leaders who inspire such comments as:

  • “There is no other person I would rather work for.”
  • “I enjoy my work and ministry so much, and the biggest reason is I serve under an incredible pastor.” 
  • “My pastor rocks.”

Those are some of the laudatory comments we heard from church staff persons who serve under excellent pastors. In my previous post, I shared the top 10 ways pastors can be bad bosses. In this article, I look at the positive perspectives.

Qualities of excellence

Here are the most frequent comments we heard from church staff. These are 10 ways pastors can be great bosses.

1. Cast a clear vision and path.“You have no doubt where he is leading our church and us. He is clear, articulate, and his vision is compelling.”

2. Support other ministries.“As a children’s minister, I have served in churches where the pastor never says anything about our area. My pastor, though, is always lifting up my ministry and other ministries.”

3. Create a fun atmosphere.“Those who serve on staff in local churches face many serious and challenging issues. I love the way our pastor encourages us to have fun and enjoy our work. I love the way he jokes around with us.”

4. Provide a good role model and example.“Whether it’s work ethic or character issues, my pastor serves as an excellent role model. Even when I disagree with him, I never question his integrity or commitment.”

5. Be decisive.“This pastor is the first I ever served under who does not hesitate to make a decision, even if it’s a tough decision. We are never left wondering if or when something will happen.”

6. Include other staff as part of the team.“We have different responsibilities and ministries among our staff, but our pastor makes certain we see the big picture. He really helps us to feel like we are part of the team.”

7. Have the back of your staff.“I knew what kind of boss I had the first time a cantankerous church member read him the riot act about me. My pastor let the church member know he supported me and respected me. I will never forget that.”

8. Listen well.“He is really a rare leader. You know when you go to talk to him about something you have his full attention. He not only listens, he responds very well.”

9. Support the staff member’s family.“I don’t know how he found out about our financial struggles. But my husband and I cried openly when he quietly gave us a check from funds he had collected from church members. I suspect he contributed a lot himself.”

10. Communicate frequently and clearly.“Most leaders, pastors included, never communicate enough. That is not the case with my boss. We are always in the know. He actually worries about over-communication. I love it!”

A serious message

Bad pastor-bosses. Good pastor-bosses. Those who serve under them have spoken clearly. May we who lead take their words to heart.

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. He is also a former pastor, seminary dean, and leader of a consulting firm. Rainer is the author or co-author of 25 books, including his latest release from B&H Publishing Group: Who Moved My Pulpit? Leading Change in the Church. His 2013 book, I Am a Church Member, has sold more than one million copies.

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