Five Tips On How To Thrive As An Executive Pastor
As a tech company that exist to help churches grow through member engagement, we speak with a lot of executive pastors tasked with “figuring out that app thing” for their church. The executive pastor role comes with a ton responsibility. Most people outside of the church staff don’t realize the number of hats an executive pastor has to wear. You have a scope that can include managing the budget, implementing and operationalizing the strategic vision, preaching, coaching, leading and managing the staff and much more.
To say that the average executive pastor is busy is an incredible understatement. With being responsible for keeping so many plates spinning, it can be hard to feel like they have time to take care of themselves or their families.
Most job descriptions end with the phrase “and all other duties as assigned”. As an executive pastor your job description functionally begins with “all other duties that haven’t been assigned to anyone else”. You bat, cleanup and the buck stops with you. With such varied responsibilities, it can be unclear where your role begins and someone else’s begins. You are tasked with managing the staff and volunteers, but do they report to you? How do you fire a person that isn’t on the payroll? Or the senior pastor may have stated that your primary job is to “implement the vision.” Is the current vision clear? Are you responsible for interpreting the vision at the next level? How much freedom do you have to implement this vision? You live in muddy waters. Here are a few pieces of advice we have picked up along they way from other executive pastors that have been there:
- Ask Questions
As we mentioned above, the executive pastor role presents undefined responsibilities and is asked to jump in on a number of projects. Don’t be afraid to seek guidance from the senior pastor or leadership board on what their overall goals are and how they feel you can use your strengths to serve in areas where the church needs the most assistance. Asking questions will show that you are thinking about your role strategically and care enough to not jump in too eagerly before you can define your purpose.
- Mentor and Equip Other Leaders
One of our favorite ministry sayings is to “give ministry away.” Leading and equipping other people on your staff team or volunteers in their specific ministry areas not only takes a load off of your plate, but it empowers those leaders to lead and grow in their faith. People will respect the fact that you invested in others in order to train and inspire them.
- Support Your Lead Pastor
The executive pastor’s number one job is to provide support for the senior pastor. This support manifests itself in promoting and achieving church goals, being a trusted confidant for advice and direction, be a supporter and cheerleader and to act as a buffer between a senior pastor and negative elements of the church. He’ll appreciate this support as a co-leader and feel like he isn’t treading water alone.
- Set and Monitor Strategic Goals
Setting and monitoring goals are a way to know where we have been and where we are going. Take some time each year and set goals for yourself and where you’d like to see development. Be thoughtful, strategic and intentional with your goals, as they will act as a source of encouragement and direction. Evaluate and reflect on the goals of previous years to see how much growth you have seen in your position.
Rest in today’s society may communicate exhaustion, burnout and lack of direction. But, biblically it is one of the best things you can do for yourself. Take a few days to step away from work and family responsibilities and refocus.
Remember, “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colossians 3:17. A life focused on Christ is the key to fulfillment and thriving ministries in our churches. Executive pastors are a great treasure for the church and often the best kept secret to keeping a church running efficiently. Although the job presents it’s challenges, the executive pastor is an essential role for growth and the spread of the Gospel in your community.