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One of the reasons I am ardently committed to a plurality of leadership in a local church is because pastors need pastors too. I’ve written about it before, and this month (Pastor Appreciation Month) is a prime opportunity to express specific reasons I am thankful for the five other men who currently not only pastor with me, but actually pastor me. Yes, they watch over my soul and shepherd me towards a deeper love for Christ and greater faithfulness to Christ.
My reasons for gratefulness in this specific season are not just tied to who these men are (character), how they are wired (gifts and personality), and what they do (occupation); the reasons are more rooted in how they bring all of these elements together into the realm of pastoral ministry. Though only one of them is employed by the church vocationally, everyone of them works at—and on and in—the church in every other way. They’re all pastors—elders—who are all in.
I’m convinced eldership is one of the hardest callings in the church because in it you have to lay aside singular mindsets and embrace an environment of plurality. And plurality is messy, long, tenuous, and humbling. Plain and simple, it’s hard. (Perhaps in another post I can expand on what plurality actually means, what it practically looks like, as well as how it actually occurs in an elder team; for now I’m simply captaining the obvious: that several men leading as one is not an easy task.) Yet, pursuing plurality is personally worthwhile and corporately rewarding for both the elders and the church.
So I’m very thankful…
…for older men with a wide range of life experience and a proven track record at home who help “ground” an elder team. That’s one of the unique things about fellow shepherd Edgar Cabrera, a pastor who keeps this pastor focused, encouraged, and settled.
…to have a retired pastor in our church who serves as a sounding board, mentor, and guide to me. Not all retired pastors are easy to work with, but Ed Gregory is the unique exception, a gem of a pastor to me who knows the road I’m traveling and helps me walk with a steady step.
…for a man like Scott Helms who has the unique balance to own a business and serve as a fellow pastor. He often lives in two worlds: individual ownership and plural leadership. No easy task! But Scott navigates it gracefully and it is a personal joy to watch this pastor wear these hats in such a complementary manner.
…that military Major Dale Hight is willing to lead and serve with me as a fellow pastor. Usually, former/active military guys make effective church elders because they know about authority and how to follow orders. Not our own, but our Lord’s! That’s why I really appreciate pastor Dale. He’s got that unique sense of what it means to be a “man on a mission”—God’s!
…for an associate who is a solid, consistent, and authentic “second chair” voice. Travis Walker, another staff pastor, has an uncanny ability to wear both the “equal authority” elder hat as well as the “under authority” staff hat. In both roles he always maintains compelling clarity and unity, which makes him a blessing, not a burden. His ministry and impact is not only good for our church corporately, it’s good for me personally.
That’s why I’m grateful for these men, both individually and collectively. We labor together in the yoke of Christ as one, yet we bring to that calling the specific things that make each one of us a unique “one.” As Alexandre Dumas said of his characters in the Three Musketeers, it’s “one for all and all for one.”
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Thank you Brother. The things you have expressed we also admire and respect in you as a fellow shepherd and a leader among leaders. You make plurality a joyful experience.
What a tumultuous year! I am grateful for the clear and consistent focus toward Christ in the middle of it. Therefore I am also thankful for yourself and the leaders at FFC.
Matthew 5:16 might say it best in describing your work: In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.