Roles.

Sometimes, I wonder what the role of Christian Leadership is. I know, intellectually, that there is supposed to be equipping the body of Christ for the work of Christ that is taking place. And I try with all my might to do that. But what is my role specifically? What am I crafted to do? If you are an engineer, you know your exact place within the company, you know your role, the people that you look to for direction, and where the company is going. If you are a doctor, you have a pretty intense purpose and role in that position. I wonder what the piece of the puzzle is that I need to be focusing on. I read something this morning that intrigued me. Here it is and then I will comment on it.

Puzzle1

According to a Gallup poll from about two years ago, there are six needs people have:
1. To believe life is meaningful and has purpose
2. To have a sense of community and deeper relationships
3. To be appreciated and respected
4. To be listened to and heard
5. To feel that one is growing in faith
6. To have practical help in developing a mature faith

So, maybe the role of the Pastor is to go after some of these things and make sure that these needs are being addressed in a practical as well as a philosophical way. These needs can be addressed biblically and they are things that we can really go after with groups of people.

1. To believe life is meaningful and has purpose

I love helping people understand what their purpose in life could be. Doing some of the personality testing as well as really convincing people that there needs to be a purpose to their life is appealing to me. I really enjoy doing this. When people begin to believe that life has purpose, it affects the way that they live. It affects everything that is what they are living by. It makes for a promotion of their beliefs and values when someone truly believe that life has purpose.

2. To have a sense of community and deeper relationships

Fostering environments where this can happen is important to do. It is interesting to me (and I have thought alot about this) that there is a phenomena that has happened for years in the United States especially in suburbia America and that is that we are actually starving our sense of community and deeper relationships by the way that we live. Most of us (at least where I am at) live in an environment nearly 50% of the time where we rarely have any interaction with our neighbors. People go to work, come home and want to be in isolation because they have been with people all day long. They really don’t want to be in relationships with others, but then they miss something because the relationships that they have are functional work relationships and not funloving, exciting relationships. You see, if we were more neighborhood based (we would be working with people in our neighborhood, going to church with people in our neighborhood, going to dinner with people, etc.) then we would have this need met. Instead, we have micro communities outside of where we spend most of our time which requires more time away from our neighborhoods and less time in the neighborhood and when we are there, we simply don’t want to engage with people. It seems to me that neighborhood based living might provide some great positives. But that’s a rant and beside the point. The reality is that leadership in the church has to adjust to the microcosm of community that is created by being sphere of influence based instead of relationship based and so one of the roles of a leader (any leader) within a local church is to create environments where these relationships can flourish and thrive and people’s need for community and encouraging relationships can be met. When this begins to happens, local churches recognize God’s vision for the body of Christ because there is a connection that begins to happen that other people on the “outside” begin to see and want to be a part of. They quickly find a way to become part of this community. This is illustrated in early 1800’s communities. The communities that thrived were the tightest nit communities. Why? Because those that traveled through it desired to be a part of it and so they did everything that they could to jump in and be a part of what was happening. I grew up watching some “Little House on the Praire.” The show was addictive because of the portrayal of community. There were relationships that weren’t forced except by commonality. And when the local church grasps this concept, there can be a movement towards contagiousness that will capture communities for Christ, communities that are locational and communities that are ‘sphere of influence based’ such as the suburbia culture I find myself in.

3. To be appreciated and respected

Yeah. All people at some level want to be appreciated and respected for what they do or who they are. If they aren’t appreciated and respected at one place (at least in a capitalistic world) they will go and find somewhere that they are. This is why you have a phenomenon called “Church Hopping.” When people feel a lack of appreciation or a lack of respect or even blatant disrespect, they are gone. They won’t stay around in any system unless they are paid enough and even then, people won’t stay for long. So unless churches begin to pay people, we must foster appreciation and respect among our people within the church. We must begin and continue to promote honesty, integrity, and trust along with those things so that we are aware of when there is disrespect happening. It’s in these conversations that we begin to see the need of individuals for appreciation and respect. I remember talking to an adult leader who was telling me about how he had been treated the last year within my student ministry. He told me that I had not acknowledged him as an adult leader or even as an individual for a year. I had ‘used’ him to do ministry and cared less about him as an individual and while he loved what he did, he certainly wasn’t going to stay in student ministry. He was gone. I resolved at that moment that I would never go through another year focused only on quality programming with quality adult leaders. I would focus on quality programming with quality leaders that I would acknowledge as quality leaders at every moment that I got, to their face and with everyone that asked. It is a need and something that is part of equipping the saints for the works of service. It is a role to do this as part of being a pastor or any leader in the local church. We appreciate and we encourage and we love people as they serve because they are in the same family as we are!
4. To be listened to and heard

I will be brutally honest as I reflect here. A few years ago, there was a student that came into my office and begin to tell me about all of the things that were wrong in her life. She shared with me the ins and outs of why her faith was on the rocks. She shared why she felt God was distant, why she was angry, how her parents played into that, why she couldn’t go much longer, etc. I had dealt with these conversations in the past and knew some of the ‘right’ things to say to her. It was in the moment of saying the ‘right’ things to her that I wondered when my heart had become so calloused that I didn’t look at her with a deep pain and sorrow and empathy that I was drawn to ministry because of. At camp, hurting kids were where God used me and molded me and shaped me, and now that I was doing this “professionally” somehow, I forgot that love. Teenagers want to be listened to and heard. Adults want to be listened to and heard. Kids want to be listened to and heard. If they are not, there is a basic need that is not met. If they are not heard and understood, all three groups are attuned enough to pick up whether someone is listening or whether they are just checking off the checklist point. As a church leader, we must continue to listen to people, provide empathy, love, direction, care, and often the ‘right’ answers in the context of the previous so that we can help to meet this need in someone’s life.  I think about another experience that I had where I genuinely wanted to listen to a teenager that was sharing his guts with me on the couch in my office and I listened to every word. At the end of the ‘conversation’ I had not said much, but he had walked away with a greater understanding of who God was and that I cared deeply for him and for what God was doing in his life. There was a basic need met that allowed us to go way deeper than any other forced conversation would allow us to go. I didn’t have the urgency to talk and teach him something, rather I let him talk and listened intently as he talked. I processed everything that he said instead of checking out of the conversation. It takes energy. It takes focus. It takes emotion. But it is the essence of the beginning of a conversation. All of us can talk, but those that listen are the ones that engage the conversation. You see examples of this in politics. When two groups disagree, it is never the ‘louder’ group that wins. It is always the group that listens to the other side and begins to focus in on what is happening that is negative in the opposing view. They listen carefully, picking out what needs to be addressed to change the structure around the issue at hand. And when we as leaders begin to change the structure in someone’s life without truly listening, we run the risk of just being the loudest voice that no one listens to.

5. To feel that one is growing in faith

My hope and prayer is that beyond ‘feeling’ that one is growing in their faith, that we are genuinely helping people to grow in their faith. There has to be a sense of knowledge of the next step within the system of spiritual growth. When there is this knowledge and this process in place, people begin to feel movement and experience movement in their life. No person wants to stand still and never go anywhere in life. So, how do we create environments where one is feeling the growth in their faith. This process takes leadership that allows for celebration of growth. We must take time to hear how God is moving and working in someone’s life. We must carefully direct our attention to those small voices that say how big our God is. I believe that the local church has to develop some of the tools of evaluation that are currently missing. We often say that we don’t think people are growing in their faith or that they are horrible at sharing their faith when those statements have no evaluation (other than a few subjective comments) behind them. We have to be careful not to disparage growth patterns by using these subjective statements as a ‘catalyst for growth’ rather we must promote that growth can be and is happening during a message or a Sunday School lesson or during a worship service. This helps people understand that this is part of the process of growth within us.

6. To have practical help in developing a mature faith body of Christ.

Now we go from some of the philosophical to the practical. You see, people ARE looking for tools to develop this idea of the body of Christ that we continue to promote as amazing. They are motivated by the “why” of the body of Christ and are screaming for the how. When there are no tools to develop the body of Christ to maturity other than a statement that says that ‘we should’ there seems to be a disparity to the local member of the body of Christ. We again find the dreaded standstill in one’s life and most people hate to stand still. They want to be part of something big. Something that they can buy into and something that has movement and direction within the system. When they find this organization, they often buy into it and support it but even more than that, they add the weight of their own momentum to it because of their buy in. There is a snow ball that begins to develop and roll down the hill because of the grandness of the vision and mission of the organization. I have not been in the corporate world but have seen from the outside in companies that develop have a huge simple mission that all people are working towards. When people know what their role is in that huge simple mission, they want to be a part of it. But the definition of the roles takes time. I think this has to be some of what the role of the leadership of any local church engages in. Developing the “how” behind the mission is extremely important so that people can plug into their appropriate role in the body of Christ.

Concluding Thoughts:

There are many different roles and functions of leadership of a local church but equipping people to do the works of service is incredible important and also biblical. If these are basic needs that are current, some of what we must be doing is addressing some of these basic needs on an individual level as well as on a programmatic and organizational level. It is when we begin to do this that we find that there is movement and growth through a group of people as well as in individual’s lives.


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About Chris Rollman

I am messed up guy who has experienced the grace and truth of Jesus Christ in my life. View all posts by Chris Rollman

One response to “Roles.

  • thissilentstar

    I have been meaning to read your latest blog for the last few days, but have not had time. I did this morning though and really enjoyed it. It is a great look at understanding the needs of people and how that looks for a leader to address them.

    Just thinking about number 4—to be listened to and heard… I have always been a shy person. And most of my life I have felt like this was a negative quality, or flaw in my personality. Just from the way people would just say “you are so shy” or make jokes “wow, we almost forgot you were there. you are so quiet”. Those things were hard for me. I always looked down on that part of me. Over the past 10 years I have reallycome out of my shell a lot. But some of that was forced. I like to think about things before I respond to them. and when I tried to get rid of that shy stigma about me, all of a sudden I found myself saying things I did not mean, or saying really stupid or insulting things at times. Later I would think, many I wish I would have said that differently.

    I have come to realize though that this shyness about me is actually a really valuable trait, and I have been made this way for a reason. I think the biggest reason is I am a very good listener. People who are shy are many times really good listners, and I follow that as well. I have always been able to listen to someone talk—and truly hear what they are saying. And along with that, many times I won’t respond a whole lot…but instead will think about it and then give my thoughts, rather than just blurting out. I have also saw that there needs to be a balance there…if I do not respond at all, then it actually seems to that person that I am not listening. So I have tried to force it before…and that doesn’t work. So instead, sometimes it is better to just tell the person that you will be thinking about them and praying for them, ask a few questions so they know you are interested, and then call them or talk to them after I have had time to think about them for a few days.

    I used to be really good at this…but now that I am not as shy as I used to be, and a little more comfortable around people, and also I find myself still trying to force things…that has cut my listening skills down a bit. But now that I no longer see being quiet or shy as a flaw I can aknowledge that God made me this way so I could listen and connect with people…and so I take that and run.

    I think the only flaw with being shy is that we are not as bold. It is hard to be bold and put ourselves out there. And so that is where I need to be pushed….

    So yeah, good post Chris. What you talked about in number 4 there was something that I have thought about and that is a little scary for me. I think when we do go into things and are doing them full-time, it can become more of a job than anything. We get good at being a yout pastor….or we get good at being a worship leader. But as we excel in that, we lean less on God and more on just doing for the sake of the job. Instead we need to continue to lean on him, and we need to continually check our motives and our hearts. This has happend to me at times. I feel like I am getting good at something, I guess right now it is leading worship. The first few times I continualy was praying over the music, praying for God’s guidance and strength…cause I need it so badly! But the “better” I have gotten at picking out songs, and feeling comfortable leading…the less I have leaned on God and the less time I have put into picking out the songs and seeking him. I have caught myself thinking “I am good at being a good worship leader” if that makes sense. And I don’t want that to happen with youth either. Taking them out for coffee will be scary for me…even though I love it (just like music)…it is out of my comfort zone. But the “better” I get at it, the easier it will be (somewhat)…and out of that I can see myself thinking “I am good at being a good youth worker” and not continually pushing myself and checking my heart and motives….

    I want to continue to be a good listener and not try to just say the “right” things, but instead truly listen and turn those thoughts around and around in my head until I know what God wants me to say. Not just spewing random, broken thoughts.

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