In response to my blog on the Ideal Associate Pastor or “2nd Chair”, I received a request to write about the qualities of the ideal Senior Pastor or “1st Chair.” That request led me to consult with some Associate Pastors from whom I received great insight, the kind I wish I would have received while serving as a Senior Pastor. Here is the beginning of a list of essential qualities, as determined by Associate Pastors, for the ideal Senior Pastor.
- The ideal Senior Pastor will embrace the principle of shared ministry (Ephesians 4:11) and, thereby, choose to benefit from the collective wisdom of the pastoral team.
- The ideal Senior Pastor will humbly acknowledge that he or she has blind spots and biases which hinder effectiveness and which will inevitably negatively impact the congregation.
- The ideal Senior Pastor will trust the Associate Pastor to identify these blind spots and biases; then facilitate opportunities for open conversation about strategies to compensate for them.
- With the help of the many resources available, the ideal Senior Pastor will learn how best to encourage, motivate, and support the Associate Pastor.
- The ideal Senior Pastor will meet regularly with the Associate Pastor for conversation, prayer, dialogue, and feedback. These meetings will take place in a variety of settings: formal and informal, over a meal or in the office, while attending a conference or participating in some kind of regional gathering. They will also be limited to the Senior and Associate Pastor and, thereby, provide opportunity for ongoing coaching, correction, and direction.
- The ideal Senior Pastor will recognize that the relationship with the Associate Pastor is just that: a relationship, one founded in Christ and made possible by a shared commitment to serve Christ in a particular context. While completing the tasks in a position description is very important, this relationship is not, at its core, a work relationship whose strength is determined by performance.It is more akin to a familial relationship whose strength is determined by loyalty, trust and dialogue.
What’s missing here? No doubt, its already a demanding list, one that requires a significant outpouring of grace and wisdom for both the Senior and Associate Pastor. Praise the Lord that such gifts flow like a river to those who are thirsty.