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Am I a Bad Pastor? (Part 1)

alignment confidence contribution energy fear finding your fit gifts insecure joy leadership ministry misfit self esteem spiritual gifts strengths Mar 23, 2024

One of the scariest days of my life was the day I was given the title “Lead Pastor” of Westside Community Church in Beaverton, Oregon. Don’t get me wrong - I wanted the job. I had felt called to be a pastor way back at the age of 17. I was just terrified of letting everybody down. I was 33 years-old and I had enough leadership experience to know I didn’t really fit the “mold.” I avoided hospitals, I couldn’t seem to stay in the church office for long periods of time, I didn’t enjoy counseling people, and I gravitated toward the “new,” sometimes even at the expense of the necessary. My solution was to just work harder and faster on the necessary so that I would have time for the new as well. Not exactly a sustainable idea.

Thankfully a few years after my new assignment, a ministry mentor affirmed something he saw in me. He said, “you have apostolic gifting.” I wasn’t really sure what he meant. He explained that I was the kind of person who loves to start new things, to create momentum outside the walls of the church, to explore and invent and take new ground.

Guilty as charged.

The problem was, I already had a job description and it didn’t say any of the stuff he mentioned.

Fast forward a decade and a half and I’m a little more comfortable in my skin. I’ve learned the secret of leading through my gifting, not trying to be everything to everyone. I’ve learned that God fashioned my passions and strengths purposefully, and His intent is for me to build a complementary team around me so that the Body of Christ can function at its full strength and capacity. I’ve learned that there must be balance in the church because Christ intended some to be Apostles, some Prophets, some Evangelists, some Shepherds and some Teachers. I’ve learned that nobody can possibly be all of those, and that whichever one you are, you are called to fully embrace and maximize that gift.

As Stephen Covey said, “It's not that we ignore our weaknesses; rather, we make our weaknesses irrelevant by working effectively with others so that we compensate for our weaknesses through their strengths and they compensate for their weaknesses through our strengths.”

Once I got over myself, I started looking for others that could fulfill the roles where I am not strong. Now fifteen years later our church has directly planted three churches and partnered with others to help plant a handful of others. We’ve started a family of churches as well as a church planting network (Multiply PDX), launched a nonprofit food pantry (Westside Food Brigade), and launched significant service partnerships with several schools in our area. I’m personally hosting three podcasts, writing a book with my wife and hoping to help launch a new Community Development Organization in the next few years.

For me, that last paragraph is super energizing. It’s all the ways I love to spend my energy. And yet, I know plenty of people look at my “job” as a pastor and scratch their heads. As a lead pastor, I don’t lead our team’s all-staff meeting, I don’t run the day-to-day operations, and I’m not the first person on-call for pastoral care or counseling (in fact…I’m probably last on the list).

You might be wondering: If you’re not doing that stuff, who is? And what exactly do you do, anyway?

Those are great questions and I’ll continue to explore them in my next post. Stay tuned! In the mean time, pause for a minute and ask yourself the question: “What gift has God given me to make a difference in the world?” If you feel like you’re not sure, keep seeking, keep reading and stay open to what God will do as you move toward your own magnificent mission.

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