Earning respect by being human

I have mentioned a couple of times how 'respect is earned, not deserved.'  When churches hire a pastor, they want the experience of an elder statesman in the body of a youth.  What often happens to younger men in the ministry is they don't have the respect the office needs in order to lead the congregation.  When a new idea or a vision is cast, the people look the the real leaders in the church (that old respected deacon, that former pastor who still attends, or that guy with lots of money) before they voice support of your idea.  That is reality for many of our young pastors.  What can the younger man do to earn their respect?

1.  Accept the reality - the longer you stay, it will change.  Right now, be the best YOU you can be.  Learn the ropes.  Use the respected men as sounding boards and don't worry about who gets the credit for the idea.  The work is what matters - and according to the Bible, God is a good Accountant and remembers your labor of love.  Stay in good graces with the power brokers (unless a decision clearly violates scriptural principle.)  If you refuse to accept this reality, you will have ulcers and a lot of enemies.

2.  Be yourself - Be authentic, real.  Be as candid as you can about your struggles as a man, a Christian, a husband and father.  People identify with a pastor who struggles with some of the same stuff they struggle with.  It is endearing to people when you occasionally admit personal struggles.  Don't do it too much - or they will begin to think they made a mistake hiring a guy with so many problems.  Authenticity will help people be less defensive when you are rebuking them, insisting "We need to change," instead of "YOU need to change."

3.  Don't run from problems or pain - EMBRACE THEM.  A pastor proves his mettle, not during the good times, but during times of loss.  When people are broken, when they have lost all sense of self-reliance, when they are vulnerable, you being a calming voice in their storm will earn you buckets of leadership cred.  People will always remember that 'when pawpaw died, you were so compassionate and helpful...' or when two deacons were more interested in fighting with each other than doing God's work, you were a peacemaker, or when the Davis' house caught on fire, you showed up in your work clothes with food and and the promise of church help.  Being God's man in their trials, controversies, and heartaches of life will earn GREAT respect.

Remember, 'the proof is in the pudding.'  As you make good decisions, people will begin to look to you more and more as their leader.  All those times you 'showed up' in difficult moments, they will remember your love, advice, and confidentiality. Time will prove your character and devotion.  And before long, when some idea is bandied about in a business meeting, every eye will be on you.

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