Last week Chuck Lawless from SEBTS ran an article about church members who drive pastors crazy. If you've been in ministry more than a month, chances are you've met a few of those. They can weigh you down, not that a shepherd doesn't need to carry burdens (he does), but the weight comes from either the pettiness or the emotional toll on a shepherd. It's an inescapable reality of ministry that there was always be a few who drive you nuts. As my father in law has said, if one moves away two more take their place.
But rather than focus on the negative aspects of pastoral ministry, I want to pause and think about the 12 types (I'm a glass half empty guy, so of course it's one less) of church members who can make a pastor's day. One of the best parts of this is I can put names to each of these. So to you who I'm writing about, thank you.
1. The Prayer - This is the member who, when they say they'll pray for you, means it. You keep wondering if they have some kind of red phone to Heaven because of how strong their prayers are for you, for the church, and whatever else you throw at them. They can be counted on when you need someone to hold you (or whatever you're asking of them) up.
2. The Consistent Volunteer - It's not the person who does everything that's here, this is the person who, when it's their turn to serve, is there. They don't try to get out of it or list reasons they can't. They step up, smile, show up, do their part, and you can count on them.
3. The "Whatever It Takes" Person - Few things ever in a church fit a "job description." This is the person who's willing to do whatever is needed to accomplish God's plans. When it gets hard, they get creative. When a ministry need comes up, they help try to find a solution. Blessed with the heart of a true servant, nothing is below them or beyond their time.
4. The One Who Introduces You to Guests Every Week - Whether it's a friend, a neighbor, or some random person they met that week (or that morning!), this person is constantly introducing you to people they've brought to worship with them. They know that a personal invite still matters, and that they can make an impact on people they love by introducing them to Jesus and to our church.
5. The Quietly Faithful - The one who attends as often as they can, who serves when they're able, who plugs in and does what's needed, and never seeks attention for it. They're content to serve, be faithful, and never seek the recognition or attention that comes with it. Most people have no idea what they do, but God does, and that's what matters most.
6. The Encourager - This isn't a Yes Man, but someone who is a genuine encourager. These people are blessed with the ability to build up. They know the words to say, or not to say, and they have a way of sharing with you to make your day. The Encourager is someone who can read people and are magnetized to the ones who feel weak that day.
7. The Dreamer - Dreamers don't nitpick and look for ways to criticize. They're willing to look around at what is happening and start to see more than what's visible. Instead of seeing an empty field, they see a potential place for building expansion. Instead of a depressing room, they see an opportunity for transforming space.
8. The Brake Tapper - Brake Tappers are just as important as Dreamers. The Brake Tapper isn't a critic or a wet sock, they're realistic. They can help see not only what the Dreamer does but the steps needed to get there. They tap the brakes, not stop the car, to help slow down to a reasonable speed. Building project getting everyone excited? Brake tappers will help come up with a plan to pay for it.
9. The Back Haver - One of my pastoral mentors often said during Strategic Leadership Team meetings that he was "looking for some other people to go on the branch with him and the chainsaw." He never liked doing things alone. And he was so grateful to have people on the branch with him. Back Havers are the people who will run interference, quench a fire, confront a bully, or make the parliamentary motion that keeps a stagnant meeting running.
10. The Regular Giver - This isn't the person who writes one big check, but the person who week after week is faithful and generous. They know what it means to be a "hilarious giver" and they are willing to make their finances, as well as their time and life, part of their worship. Most of our giving units are small givers who regularly sacrifice and give what they can. And those, whether they're social security income or someone struggling to find ways to be generous while balancing the demands of life, are such a blessing.
11. The Driver - The Driver is the one who takes an idea and puts it into motion. It's really easy to talk about where we want to go, and we can have endless meetings about vision and what things could look like. The Driver is the one who says "Get in the truck, let's go!" Drivers are the champions for a ministry and are willing to do what's needed to make it work. They own it, they put their time and energy into it, and they make it happen.
12. The Learner - The Learner is the one who embracers their (and your) inner nerd. They like to learn and share what they've learned. They glean from your teaching and love growing in what they know about God. Learners don't necessarily give you random end-times charts, but are sharing with you, and you with them, what God has been teaching you. You're like the sharpening stone in a forge. You both make each other sharper from sharing with each other.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.