When it comes to leading people, many pastors fall into one of two opposite traps.
Doing everything themselves, or delegating tasks to people who don’t do them well.
Many pastors swing wildly between the two.
What Causes Pastoral Burnout?
We see something that needs to get done, so we do it. After a while, we get worn out doing everything, so we delegate some of those tasks to others.
Either they don’t follow through, or they do it badly, or they don’t do it the way we would have. So, the next time, we just do it ourselves.
“It’s easier this way,” we tell ourselves. Or “I don’t have anyone I can count on,” we insist.
But the problem isn’t with the people we delegated the task to. The problem is that we’re missing something. A crucial, essential step between doing it ourselves and delegating it to others.
Specifically, something I like to call the Pastoral Prime Mandate.
This step shouldn’t be a surprise to us. It’s written clearly in Ephesians 4:11-12:
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. (NLT)
Did you catch that? Paul didn’t tell the church leaders to do the ministry themselves. And he didn’t tell us to delegate those tasks to others. He told us to do the intermediate step of equipping them to do ministry.
The Equipping Mandate
Pastors who try to do everything will burn themselves out, while reinforcing the false idea that church members are meant to be passive consumers of a religious product.
So we swing the pendulum and delegate. But that doesn’t work unless we do something else first. Equip them to do the task before we delegate it to them. Disciple them to be participants in ministry, not consumers of it.
Pastoring without equipping may be the greatest cause of burned out pastors, passive members and ineffective churches.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way.
Equipping God’s people to do the work of ministry isn’t a leadership strategy, but it is strategic.
It’s not a church growth tool, but it will build up the church.
It’s not a cool, new trend, but it is a great idea.
Equipping God’s people.
It’s practical, it’s effective and it’s biblical.
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