Hey Pastor … we’ve all been there – feeling like we’re being pulled and scattered in a million different directions, trying to juggle a dozen balls and inevitably dropping half of them. It’s a common scenario in our line of work, right? On a good day, we start our day with a clear mission in mind, but by the time we hit the pillow, we’re left wondering, “What exactly did I accomplish for the Kingdom today?” This feeling of being a scattered pastor is more than just a nuisance; it’s a significant barrier to fulfilling our true calling.

Three Causes of the Scattered Pastor Syndrome

1. Misunderstanding the Biblical Job Description

Let’s dive into the heart of the matter – the Lead Pastor’s job description. Ephesians 4:11-13 lays it out in no uncertain terms: our role is to make disciples and equip our church members for ministry, including member care. But, let’s face it, how often do we find ourselves straying from this path? It’s a widespread issue. The role of a lead pastor is often misinterpreted, leading us down a path filled with everything but disciple-making.

For instance, let’s take a look at Acts 6:1–3. The church’s food pantry was in disarray. The Hebrew-speaking widows and families were getting the food distribution they needed, but the Greek-speaking widows and families did not so much. Apparently, a delegation headed to the pastor’s office and pounded on the door. “You need to fix this problem!” they demanded.

The truth is, most of our church members would agree that the pastoral team needed to step in and do something about it. But notice what Peter and the rest of the church staff said. “That’s not ours to step in and run. Instead,” they went on, “Choose a team of seven that you know are spiritually mature and have a history of making good decisions. Put them in charge and let them get it sorted out. Our job is discipleship, evangelism, and spiritual development.”

I created a workbook called The 5-Essential Tasks of the Lead Pastor. The conclusion of the workbook is that the vast majority of the work that most lead passers do is neither biblical nor helpful. Some of the things you will not find in a biblically based job description are member care (mistakenly called “pastoral care” in most churches), office hours, Hospital visitation, most administrative tasks and meetings, bulletin preparation, and so on. Let’s be clear, two of the most important lead Pastor tasks include mission alignment and vision attainment. Very few churches would be in Decline if those were the key ministry tasks that a pastor was focused on.

2. Falling Into the Trap of ‘Pastor Fetch’

Then there’s the phenomenon I call ‘Pastor Fetch.’ It’s a scenario not unlike the example above, where pastors become overburdened with tasks that should be delegated to church leadership or members. We become the go-to person for everything, from fixing the leaky faucet in the church kitchen to counseling every troubled soul, often at the expense of our primary mission. This overextension isn’t just exhausting; it’s counterproductive. We end up being employees of the church rather than leaders and visionaries. I’m not surprised to find that when I have pastors list out their current job responsibilities that well over half of those tasks are what I would call Pastor Fetch assignments.

3. Living as Slaves to the Urgent and Familiar

And let’s talk about the urgent and the familiar – the twin traps that ensnare many of us. The urgent tasks are those ‘fires’ we feel compelled to put out, which rarely align with our primary mission. They’re the distractions that pop up and demand immediate attention, regardless of their actual importance. In almost every case, the urgent tasks are simply distractions that keep us from focusing on doing the things that are truly important and mission-critical.

On the other hand, the familiar is that comfort zone we find ourselves in, where one week looks very much like another, and making mission-driven decisions and ministries simply don’t end up on the calendar. Breaking free from these traps requires intentional effort and a shift in perspective.

The Solution – Clarity, Reassignment, and Focus

So, what’s the solution? It starts with getting crystal clear about the biblical mandate for making disciples. We need to embrace a job description that throws off church tradition and probably some of our formal training that was grounded more in expediency than scripture. You should know, however, that you will need more than simply a strategy for breaking free of your church’s traditional View of the role of the Lead Pastor. As Jim Collins has said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast and lunch.” Changing your Church’s culture to accept the biblical role of the Lead Pastor will not happen overnight.

Solution is learning to say no. In fact, saying ‘no’ is one of the most critical skills we need to develop. It’s about stopping the game of ‘Pastor Fetch’ by politely but firmly declining tasks that don’t align with our primary mission. It’s about reassigning those tasks we’ve inadvertently taken on and empowering others in the church to step up. Again, this won’t happen overnight. The first step is to begin saying no, but the second step, which is equally important, is to begin handing off those tasks that rightfully belong to the members rather than to you. I can remember taking the position as pastor of a church, and before I took the position, I introduced to them the biblical role of a Lead Pastor, including what those tasks were and were not. I let them know that I would not be making most of the hospital visits but that I would make sure there was a membership care team in place so that member care was not just adequate but exceptional. It took a year to get the team in place and functioning, but from that point on I only made hospital visits to staff members, their families, and when there was an exceptional need.

Finally, there’s the need to break free from the urgent and the familiar. This might mean restructuring our schedules, setting aside dedicated time for strategic planning and disciple-making activities, and being willing to step out of our comfort zones to try new approaches to ministry.

The Role of Coaching and Support

But here’s the thing: most of us can’t do this alone. We need ongoing coaching support to break free from years of ineffective practice, tradition, and misunderstandings of our biblical mission. I’ve seen firsthand how pastors transform their ministries with the right guidance. Coaching provides an external perspective, accountability, and the encouragement needed to make tough but necessary changes.

So, there you have it. It’s time to refocus, redefine, and re-energize our ministries. If you’re feeling stuck and scattered, know that you’re not alone, and more importantly, there’s a way out. And if you’re looking for someone to walk this journey with you, I’m here to help. Let’s get back to what we’re here for – transforming lives and communities, one disciple at a time.

If you’re a North American Lead Pastor and would like to speak with the author about your role in growing your church, click here to get on Bill Tenny-Brittian’s calendar for a free Get Growing Conversation.

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