“Hey man, if you’ve got time i just wondered what the greatest piece of advice you would have for a worship pastor going to a new church.”
Well…I may have not a greatest but 10 GREATEST HITS perhaps. Read to the end to see what I think is THE single most important advice I could give.
- be yourself: you have to know what you are good at and not good at and leverage the good and expose your weaknesses. You have to school your new place of service in who you really are, but if you do not know that yet you could be handicapped. If you are younger, well you are. Be happy about that and look the other way when people sour because they are no longer young like you are.
- understand politics: it is really something you have to learn in any leadership role, even though it sucks. Embrace not politics but the idea that you must consider navigating them. Really, being above politics means you never will like it when you do navigate them. When you start to like politics too much, please quit ministry!
- beware of entitlement: you will not know who truly is supportive until 18 months…people tire of faking it, and some think your job is theirs. Church people feel they are owed. They are not. The mission is. However, the pain is in not knowing really who is supportive for almost 2 years. Be wise in who you let into your inner circle.
- count on friends: get some guys immediately in or outside your church you could be “real” with…because…venting is important: always better to say stupid things in safe company so you spare the rest of the world.
- uphold your conscience: if there are ANY issues of conscience challenge those immediately and strongly–not issues of comfort or entitlement but issues of integrity. This will pay off…eventually. “Live within the integrity of your own conscience.” Or, quit.
- strategize changes: be patient about too many changes, until you see what is really working or not–the new church may think they know, but they may not and will take time for you to clarify what you see.
- spot the spin: you can be sure that the situation will not be what you expected–mostly you will be disappointed because even the best intentioned leaders don’t mean to but churches are selling themselves to you so you can work there. Once you are there….well….reality!
- speak the culture: learn the lingo and adopt it immediately and be careful about comparing to past places of service or other churches you have read about, etc. Do it, but with caution. (Remember #2)
- forget your title: you do not need position to influence, just character and resolve. This is a far better place to expect your ministry to be. Management is about pressure, leadership is about suction–drawing people to the vision.
- be an apprentice: find a mentor, or two or three and keep asking questions. You will not get answers. Most likely the good mentors will ask you questions and make you solve your issues. But, they know what to ask. A mentor is not someone who is perfect, but has the luxury of pointing to the results of both good and bad choices you might make. Making mistakes makes you an expert, right?
Hit #10 would be my single most important piece of advice, but any close seconds listed here?