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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lessons for Pastors and Politicians

I have never run for a political office but I was elected by each church I served. The Baptist believe on voting on everything! The Baptist can vote you and in and they can vote you out at any business meeting. That's one of the reasons I never watched Survivor. I could be voted off the island in any month!

Years of service have led me to several ways of ministering that apply both to pastors and politicians. The pastor wants to do the right thing and continue to have a ministry. The politician hopefully enters office wanting to do the right thing and continue being elected. The things I have learned may not keep a politician elected but they will keep him or her sincere.

You are the pastor of all the church. You are not just the pastor of those who voted for you. You are not just the pastor of the people who agree with you. You are responsible for each person. Doing what is best for all has to be the driving force. Simply trying to please your supporters will keep you running from item to item with no real vision. 

Your critics can be your best allies. They may keep you from doing something that you never should have done. They should cause you to rethink whether or not this is best for everyone. Their way of thinking may cause you to think in a way you never thought before. You should listen without immediate criticism. You should consider their thoughts. You may need to modify or stop what your agenda to do so.

Don't bring things for a vote until you know its the right thing to do. Make sure you have looked at the consequences of your decision. All decisions have consequences and create new problems. Don't ignore these but know whether or not they are acceptable. You have not done your homework if you have not considered the consequences.

Work within the system you have. Do not try to change the system by forcing a decision down the people's throats. In other words, work within your committee structure or regular system of decision making to bring new items to your people. Make the item of change the decision making system if it needs to be changed. Do not try to change the decision making process by introducing a new proposal. Don't put the two things together.

Work toward trust. Trust comes from faithfulness plus time. Tell the truth. Tell as much of what you are doing as possible. Let the people know what you do to accomplish your work. Many people think a pastor only works Sundays. They don't know of the counseling, administrative duties and pastoral care that takes up his time during the week. They don't know that he continues to work on vacations and days off. They don't know the number of hours each week. They need to know what you are doing if they are going to trust you.

Always be honest. It is better to tell the people that you can't answer a question due to confidentiality than to tell a lie. It is better to admit your mistakes or sins than to try to hide them. Honesty will destroy a scandal. Honesty all but eradicates speculation. An exposed lie removes trust. You can't truly be the leader you need to be without the trust of the people.

Be humble. Few people enjoy an arrogant blow hard. Tell of how fortunate you are to be serving. Tell of who you appreciate. Genuinely consider others better than yourself. Never over-estimate your own abilities. 

Get advice often. Choose someone outside your system. Tell them what you are proposing and ask how it sounds to them. Often, they can stop you from making a fool of yourself.

Do not pass your responsibility to others. Stand up for what you believe in. Take your office seriously and do those things you don't like doing when they fall under your responsibility.

Remember that no one makes you do anything. You make your own decisions. Don't ever blame something on someone when the buck stops at your desk. Forget about your predecessor. He or she is not your problem even if they caused many of the things you must clean up. A true leader takes things forward and does not blame anything on someone else.

Remember the people can vote you out of office but they can't take your heart. You can leave intact as long as you have been true to your heart. You don't know who you are if you have destroyed your own heart.

You don't know it all. Be a lifelong learner. You can learn from the most unlikely people. Even little children can teach you great truths. Make sure you don't dismiss someone because they lack your education or experience. Learn until the day you die.

Have fun. This comes from knowing that it is not all in your hands. If God called you to this work, then God will see you through this work if you will let Him. Enjoy seeing Him work.

There are lots of other things that I learn and need to learn. These are some things I learned in the ministry. I believe they would also apply to politicians. I know I would want those who are serving me in office to know these things.

1 comment:

Monika said...

At first I'd like to express my respect (4:50 am ... wow!) and now I'm gonna read it.