The Real Job of Every Pastor and How to Win at It!

Are you familiar with the story of George Bailey of Bedford Falls? He runs into a hard season of life and gets depressed. He wishes he’d never been born. Now, if you haven’t figured it out yet, George is the protagonist in the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. In the movie, depressed George has the opportunity to see what life would be like without him. With the help of an angel named Clarence, George realizes that through his desire to do right and be a helpful person, he actually had made a great difference in the lives of those he knew. He had impacted the community! He was more significant than he realized. I think pastors, especially those in rural settings, need to understand that what they’re doing in sharing the light even as they go around the town is making a critical difference. There’s a significant thing happening because of your presence, pastor, in your community.

What we teach is “wearable” when we interact rightly with those throughout our sphere of influence. We are seen as doers of the Word and not just hearers only. I think it’s especially significant as pastoral leadership. 

Some time ago, we were holding a leadership meeting in Tulsa, one of our national conferences, and we were having a panel discussion when somebody in the crowd asked, “How can I become a great leader?” I felt like Gomer Pile at the officers’ club, being among those great leaders, but as we were preparing to answer the question, I thought to myself, The way to be a great leader or a great pastor is to be a great Christian, an extremely connected believer. If we allow that to be our win, it will become the win for everyone in our congregations. 

Winning is not getting to stand on a platform and feeling significant. Winning is becoming someone your spouse loves at the end of the day, someone your kids look up to, someone your church can depend on. You can affect your town or city, even your county or region, so the level of leadership you walk in can serve as an inspiration to many.

John Maxwell had a secretary named Eileen back in the early days of his pastorate. Eileen handed him a book called The Greatest Story Ever Told. John very excited to find out what the story was about. He opened it and every page was blank. Eileen told him, if I can paraphrase what she said, “John, make your life count. Write the greatest story ever told with the way that you live.” Wow!

A Popeye moment happened to me not too long ago. Everybody needs to have a Popeye moment. Mine was him saying, “I’ve had all I can stand, and I can’t stand no more!” What can’t you stand anymore? Is there something that hits you deep? It could be an injustice you see happening. Something just gets all over you. Part of the purpose of leadership is to identify the things that God puts in you so that you can make a difference as a leader. You may be called to lead a movement! 

Your job as a pastor is not just to entertain the saints on Sunday morning but to mobilize them, and in the mobilization create contagious kingdom living. There’s something wrong if you can preach up a storm in the pulpit but have no care for the people when you walk off the platform. To be honest, I don’t have much time for people like that. I’m thankful that we as pastors have the opportunity to make an impact for the cause of Christ. 

You know, each of us needs to have a personal growth component in our lives. That component has to do with the significance of the work God has done in us and becoming contagious to the people around us. It’s the call to leadership, to transfer that wisdom and experience to as many people as you can, to empower people. I wouldn’t be worried about whether you inspire ten people or ten thousand. Your significance strategy should allow for God to move organically through our lives as we sow into others. This is a biblical model and centers on the law of buy-in. People will listen to us because we value them. It’s not just an “I’m the leader, so you listen to me” scenario. It’s “You’re a valuable friend, and I see the greatness in you that maybe others don’t see. I want to help unearth it. I want to get you to challenge your own boundaries. I want to give you the kind of confidence and training that will help you win at life.”

What God has done in you He wants to do in the lives of others. Egocentricity and insecurity are equally wrong, so you must know for the glory of God and for the furtherance of the Christian faith how to walk out your calling with courage while knowing how influential God has made you to be.

I don’t know how much courage it took for Pastors Jim and Tamara to move out of the Lakewood environment and to Victoria, Texas. What I can tell you is that the people of Victoria, Texas, and the surrounding counties are extremely glad they came! Their church has an authentic, contagious love about it. Having been to Faith Family Church, I can attest that as soon as you walk in the door you feel loved. The place is enormous, but you feel the real love, the sincere connection with others in a tangible way. Whatever the size of your church or ministry, I hope that you will embrace your significance as a kingdom leader in your community and endeavor to create the kind of atmosphere that only the love of God can really create. Then your church will become a haven of rest in a world full of struggle and change.