A lot of pastors struggle with leadership. I was a pastor for 21 years before moving into a role of coaching church leaders, and I experienced issues daily that challenged my leadership.
Oftentimes, I found myself pretending to be in charge, attempting to control circumstances and manipulating people.
Sound familiar? I hope not... but I've worked with enough pastors to know that struggles in leadership are VERY common.
Why do pastors struggle to lead?
Errors in leadership usually attempt to hide inadequacy, immaturity, or overcompensate for a character flaw or weakness. After a while, insecure leaders question their ability to lead — ministry feels mundane and burdensome — and burnout can’t be far behind.
How do we avoid errors in leadership? What’s underneath a leader’s true effectiveness and influence?
There are four types of authority that confident, secure, and effective pastors use appropriately.
- Positional Authority: Authority based on one’s place in the organization. People respond to a pastor because of the nature of the office and title.
- Expertise-based Authority: Authority derived by one’s competence or experience. People respond because of what the leader knows about a particular subject.
- Relational Authority: Authority built on a leader’s relationship of respect and trust. People respond because they believe in the leader’s relationship and predictable behaviors.
- Spiritual Authority: Authority granted by God, cultivated out of deep intimacy with Christ and character authenticity. People respond to a supernatural sense, anointing, and favor evidenced by a leader’s non-anxious attitude and servant’s heart.
A CRM colleague, Mike Crow, defines spiritual authority as, “the activity of God which occurs in and through a person’s life, not simply because of his or her position or competency. It is the operation of the Spirit of God which emanates out of a leader’s personality, gifting, character, and intimacy before God, and influences others toward a similar commitment to the purposes of God.”
As a pastor, I was familiar with the first three types. However, when I first met leaders like Mike Crow, something struck me about their leadership that I could not pin point...
They functioned effectively — without pressure. They listened more than they talked. They cared more about MY discoveries than THEIR content. They asked good questions and refused to give unsolicited advice. I felt valued and respected.
I later came to understand the value and impact of leaders operating from a place of spiritual authority, much like the examples seen in the disciples in the book of Acts.
Another big breakthrough in my leadership occurred as I began to look below the surface of my leadership. An article by Dr. Gary Mayes helped: “4 Postures of Spiritual Authority.”
To this day, these 4 tools and Gary’s article keeps me centered and adjusted to the type of leader God uses to accomplish His purposes. I hope it rescues you from leadership abuse and ushers in a new capacity to influence others — the way Christ did.