Apart from our own family relationships few relationships in life are as meaningful and as potentially productive as that of the pastor/preacher and the people. It does not take long for the pastor to realize that life is about relationships and personalities play an important role in the building of positive productive interpersonal relationships.
Effective preachers realize that there are three traits that are imperative in influencing others and leading people. Pastors who influence others know where they are going. They know why they are here. And, they know who they are. Many of us called to preach struggle with this last trait. While we may know where we are going and why we are here, some of us often find ourselves trying to be someone we are not. God has gifted each of us with not only our own unique DNA but our own unique personality as well. Some are extroverted. Others are more introverted. Knowing who you are and allowing God to use you through the person He made you to be is a liberating experience.
While we are each gifted with different personalities, there are some common principles we can all incorporate into our leadership abilities. I call these the “Be-Attitudes” of pastoral leadership, and no matter whether we are out-going in our personalities or more reserved, each of us can put them into use as we seek to be winsome in our work and witness with others. To begin with:
BE APPROACHABLE…People in the pew need to know they have a pastor who is approachable. This can be achieved as much through attitude as through action.
BE AFFIRMING…People need encouragement and perhaps the greatest motivating factor you can exhibit is in giving a simple pat on the back. Our Lord went around affirming people. He met a woman taken in adultery and after turning away her accusers told her He did not condemn her but that she should go and sin no more. While the disciples in Bethany rebuked the woman with the alabaster box, Jesus told her she had done a beautiful thing to Him.
BE APPRECIATIVE…Learn to say thank you. Show your appreciation to others openly and often. It takes so little to be above average at this point.
BE ATTENTIVE…Know as many of your people’s names as possible. No matter what your personality type we can all be more attentive. There is something endearing about hearing your name mentioned from someone like the pastor for whom you have such respect. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them” (John 10:27). Your sheep hear your voice every week and you need to know them.
BE ACCURATE…In relationships, and in all of life for that matter, honesty is always the best policy. We never have to be afraid of the truth. It has its own way of always winning in the end.
BE ACCOUNTABLE…Perhaps more pastors lose their leadership because of a lack of accountability than anything else. By our very nature, we all need someone to whom we are accountable.
Yes, life is about relationships and there are only three in life. There is an outward expression. This is the relationship we have with others at home, the office, in the church and in the social arena. There is an inward expression. This is the relationship we have with our selves. It is difficult to “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” if we have little self-worth or self-love. Finally, there is the upward expression, the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ. And the bottom line? We will never be properly related to others until we are properly related to ourselves and this never takes place until we are properly related to the Lord Jesus and find our self-worth in Him. God has gifted you with your own personality. Embrace it. Never try to be someone you are not. You are unique and indescribably valuable to Him. Get out there among your people and be affirming, appreciative, attentive, accurate, and don’t forget to be accountable. There is something you can do that no one can do quite like you can…and there is someone to be reached that no one can reach like you can.
O. S. Hawkins is the President and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources.