Pastor, Are You Leaving Fingerprints Or Footprints

Recently, I was conversing with a fellow missionary about ministry philosophy. At one point in the conversation, I shared a principle, that I read somewhere, about leaving fingerprints or footprints.

It has long been stated that missionaries in a foreign field must be sure to leave only their footprints behind when they leave the field. For example, if an American goes to Peru endeavoring to start a church, then, when he leaves, there should be a Peruvian church there; not an American one. The issue being that the missionary should leave footprints not fingerprints. Understanding the difference in the two can mean everything to a long term, productive ministry.

In general observation of pastors and missionaries that I have known, read about, or were told about in the last 18 years have led me to come to a few conclusions concerning this subject.

(Romans 10:15Romans 10:15
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!  

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) “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”  (KJV)

 

#1 We Face A Dilemma…

Each day that we lead our congregations, we have to decide if we are going to leave fingerprints or footprints? Leaving fingerprints reveals that the pastor is too involved and things will collapse in his absence. (I wonder if this is what some guys do… creating a dependence upon themselves in the hopes of keeping their position? Just a thought!) On the other hand, leaving footprints reveals the leadership of a pastor. He has LED his congregation. People have gotten involved, and, when he is gone, things continue without fail! People are the very ones who we are supposed to be training! If we, as pastors and spiritual leaders, do EVERYTHING, then we are doing an injustice to the very individuals we are called to help. Basically, it is counterproductive!

It is my personal opinion, after learning this the hard way, that it is better have less with the congregation’s respect, than to have more without their respect. If the congregation of believers are not behind you, then bullying something through will never work IN THE LONG TERM!  Happy is the pastor who learns this! Think about it… you are not always going to be there. The man who follows you will have to rub out your fingerprints before he can leave his footprints! The ministry is NOT about we who pastor, but the God of Heaven and His church!

#2 There Is A Problem That Few Recognize…

I see that many pastors tend to have a “pastor” centered ministry rather than a “Christ” centered ministry. Please understand that many pastors do not realize they do this, though it can be rather obvious on the outside looking in. This situation tends to occur under leadership conditions where it is always about what the pastor wants… at all costs! This is also commonplace where the pastor or missionary has a charismatic personality and can sway people rather easily. In these two types of situations, you find that pastors have their hands in EVERYTHING! It is their way no matter what! Yes, I do believe in oversight, but oversight does not require one to leave FINGERPRINTS on it all.When things tend to center around the pastor, then you might have a problem?

It is also common to see this where a congregation is not on board with the pastor’s vision and philosophy of ministry. Maybe there is a new pastor and he wants to reach out and see some growth. The congregation, however, has “seen this before” and is no longer obliged to get involved. In this scenario, it is quite common to view a pastor doing just about everything and nobody is helping much at all. Rather than leading the congregation, the pastor IS the congregation. When this guy leaves the pastorate, more than likely, fingerprints will be the only thing left behind. It will be harder for the next guy, and, what was accomplished in the short term, will fizzle out! This is due to the congregation’s apathy, but also the pastor’s inability to lead the congregation. A sad situation, no matter how you look at it.

#3 Future Rewards Can Be In Jeopardy…

As a missionary or pastor, you will leave fingerprints, footprints, or both! Sometimes we sacrifice the long term benefits and rewards of ministry on the altar of immediate gratification. It is never appropriate to do this, but we feel that we must do it regardless of the consequences sometimes. God has called us to lead, not be God. Our Heavenly Father knows, all too well, about the people He sent us to lead in the first place. Don’t you think He knows what we are up against?

There is a fine line between strong leadership founded upon the Biblical precept of faith, and presumptuous, pompous, directives birthed from man’s intuitions and inclinations. God will reward our faithfulness, not our accomplishments necessarily. Whether or not we were able to push a particular pet project through a business meeting, as important and as vital as we think it to be, is not the most important thing!

Doing God’s will, in God’s way, in God’s timing is what is important! Sometimes we do the will of God without actually accomplishing what He wanted us to do… if that makes sense? People shut things down, but God sees that. He gave them an opportunity, and they chose to leave it… though leadership was obedient. God will reward us for our labors, no doubt! We would do well to simply follow Him in child like faith and love for He will bless us for being faithful. Most of all, we will have more rewards for leaving only our footprints behind us!

(Galatians 6:7-9Galatians 6:7-9
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.  

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) “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  (KJV)

Conclusion

Friend, I hesitated to post this article, but felt that I must. Please take these thoughts in the spirit in which they are intended. I know that I opened a can of worms which nobody wants to deal with. But should not we address this before, like cancer, it spreads beyond hope of repair? No doubt, many people who read this post will disagree, but that is okay. I am still your friend. We can agree to disagree… agreeably! I would be delighted if you would leave a comment below pertaining to your thoughts on this sensitive issue!

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Originally posted 2010-11-26 00:01:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The Attitude Of A Pastor

Airbus A380Image via Wikipedia

Anyone familiar with flying an aircraft will state that a fundamental, aeronautical truth is that the ATTITUDE of an airplane will have a direct effect on the ALTITUDE of the plane. “Nose down” means that you are headed towards the Earth. “Nose up” means that you are headed skyward. The ATTITUDE of the nose of the aircraft, as directed by the flaps and rudder, will determine the rate of descent or ascent. In other words, “ATTITUDE DETERMINES ALTITUDE!” Such it is with pastoring a church. The quality of ministry in any local assembly is greatly determined by the ATTITUDE of its leadership.

There are two important areas of a pastor’s life which he must be careful with concerning his attitude.

 

#1 – The Pastor’s Countenance

(1 Timothy 4:121 Timothy 4:12
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  

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) “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”  (KJV)

The local church will take on the personality of its pastor. The longer he is there, the more its members will resemble its leader in attitude and such. In view of this truth, answer the following questions about the attitude of your personal leadership as pastor.

  • Pastor, are you repressive or optimistic?
  • Pastor, are you problem oriented or solution oriented?
  • Pastor, are you in despair, or a ray of hope?
  • Pastor, are you tense or are you relaxed?

The attitude which you consistently project will be what you end up working with overall. Yes, there is a learning curve in the ministry, but beware of how you display your attitude. Pretending will wear off after a while. Your true nature will shine forth regardless of how you dress it up. It is best to work on your attitude so it is genuinely pleasing to Christ!

#2 – The Pastor’s Mind

(2 Corinthians 10:52 Corinthians 10:5
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; imaginations: or, reasonings  

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) “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;”  (KJV)

My grandma used to say that the idle mind is the Devil’s workshop. I feel that she did not miss the truth by far! One of a pastor’s most valuable assets is his mind. Satan surely knows this and will seek to wage war. The #1 battlefield of a man of God is not with the lost man, the world in general, nor his wayward church family. It is within his own body, and his own faculties. The battlefield is in the pastor’s MIND!

Two dangers to be noted here:

Intimidation –  We should not be intimidated, but many times our attitude lends itself to this. God warned Ezekiel about this issue. Study Ezekiel 2:6Ezekiel 2:6
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house. briers...: or, rebels  

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and the context within the surrounding verses. This is surely helpful to the intimidated preacher of God’s Word!

(Proverbs 29:25Proverbs 29:25
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe. safe: Heb. set on high  

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) “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”  (KJV)

Spiritual Inferiority Complex – When we get our eyes off of Jesus and on ourselves, then we will end up feeliing abnormally inferior. Worry, and its cousins will rob us of the fire and zeal which are so needed to inspire the confidence of those we serve.

(Philippians 4:13Philippians 4:13
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.  

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) “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  (KJV)

Consider a few questions about your mind…

  • Pastor, is your mind clear or cluttered?
  • Pastor, is your mind virtuous or grotesque?
  • Pastor, is your mind sharp or seared with sin’s desensitizing power?
  • Pastor, is your mind occupied with other folk’s needs or just about your needs?
  • Pastor, is your mind centered upon Christ or upon carnal amusements?

Conclusion

Make no mistake about this issue. Attitude determines altitude! Our countenance will reveal what is on our minds and our minds will feed our countenance. It is in everyone’s best interest to faithfully follow Christ and keep a good attitude about life so as to be a sharper tool in the omnipotent hand of our Master!

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Originally posted 2011-01-05 00:01:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

10 Ways To Better Lead As A Pastor

Most pastors want to be a better leader. For me, it has become an obsession or sorts. I want to be the BEST pastor I can be. If I am to be a sharper tool in God’s omnipotent hand, then I must allow my Lord to whet the edge of my leadership ability. Ultimately, it is God who makes the leader out of the pastor, but I want to do all that is humanly possible to be in the place for God to make the most out of me.

In the never ending quest for becoming a better leader one will find a plethora of so-called experts on the subject. Not one week goes by that I do not see an advertisement on my Facebook account trying to get me to go to some conference or buy some book on leadership. In spite of the large quantity of materials on the issue of being a better leader, it really comes down to a few simple things: (1) A teachable spirit; (2) Submission to the Holy Spirit; (3) A little bit of common sense.

(1 Timothy 4:121 Timothy 4:12
English: King James Version (1611) - KJV

12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.  

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) “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (KJV)

Listed below are 10 suggestions for how to become a better leader as a pastor. May God use each of these to be  a blessing to you!

#1 – Great “leadership” starts with great “followship”. 

Follow the Lord, follow your pastor, and follow godly men!

#2 – SEEK to be the leader God wants YOU to be.

Don’t worry about being anything but what God desires you to be. Sometimes influential people have great plans for us, but not what God wants for us! Know the difference!

#3 – Be yourself.

God made you unique… so be unique! It can be one of your greatest Allies!

#4 – Don’t ask of others what you would not readily perform yourself.

There should never be a task “beneath” you. No matter how important you think yourself to be or how others think you to be, you are still a good candidate to clean the toilet bowl!

#5 – Seek balance in your leadership.

Balance is the key to a successful ministry. Don’t be going to extremes all the time. Find out which way God is going and go with Him.

#6 – Don’t exploit the mistakes and sins of others for personal gain and promotion.

The unfortunate blunders and circumstances that people get themselves into are not necessarily open range for you and I to graze upon. Some things are meant for us to see and learn from, not for the rest of the country to know about!

#7 – Lead, don’t manipulate, drag and force.

Lead by example! Jesus would be the greatest picture of this. If you will lead, then people will follow! Let God do this work!

#8 – Lead with confidence balanced by meekness and humbleness.

Know who you are, why you are here, where you are going, and how to get there, and you will be a good prospect for leadership!

#9 – Emulate the positive aspects of other great leaders.

Every man is our teacher, so watch and listen!

#10 – Embrace difficulties, trials, and persecutions as CHALLENGES not problems.

Be solution oriented, not problem oriented. There is a difference and happy is the man who understands this!

Conclusion

There is no claim being made in this post that we have cornered the market on what it takes to be a great leader. The suggestions above have been very practical and helpful to our ministry. May they help you to become the great leader God desires you to be!

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Henry and Richard Blackaby are “concerned that many Christian leaders are reading secular books and are applying their teachings uncritically, “so they wrote Spiritual Leadership to help Christian leaders in business, politics and the pastorate develop the qualities of spiritual leadership. Spiritual Leadership will help you understand God’s design for leadership and will enable you to lead God’s people towards the fulfillment of His purposes. Let the Blackaby’s teach you the biblically based principles that will enable you to lead in the 21st century.

Originally posted 2011-01-17 00:01:00. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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