Andy Stanley on Courageous Pastoring

Speaking from my limited view, I feel like so much of the problem with pastors is they are just scared to death. They’re scared of their people, they’re scared of deacons, they’re scared, they’re scared, they’re scared. You know, if you’re scared of someone you can’t lead them; you can hardly even influence them. Here’s the pastor who’s been hired ? I tell our business guys all the time, “You’d never go to work for an organization where the customers can hire and fire the president of the company they bought products from.” But that’s the church world.

The people hire the leader and say, “We’ll follow you unless we don’t like the way you’re leading us, then we’ll get us another leader.” What other organization can the clients and the customers hire and fire the leader? So the church is set up upside-down. It’s an environment that is not conducive to leadership in some ways. Consequently to lead a church you just have to have a lot of courage because the group to which you’re saying “follow me” can get together after you leave and fire you. Well, that’s just the way it is. That’s not going to change but it requires a lot of courage ? otherwise we start bending toward the people that hired us and we’re in trouble.

The irony is we stand up and talk about Daniel in the lion’s den but then we won’t even confront elders. All of these bible heroes ? David and Goliath ? and we love to preach those sermons and draw these parallels and then we’re scared to confront people. I think that dynamic alone is a big part of why the church is where it is. The leadership ? or lack of leadership ? is just so much fear of people. I don’t know where that comes from…

When I see pastors who are scared I want to tell them, ‘Just lead.’ If they fire you and you don’t think God will take care of you, then you have no message for your people anyway, because we get up every Sunday and say God’s grace is sufficient. He’s going to take care of you, He’ll meet your every need and you’ll never see the “righteous go hungry.” It’s what we preach, but if our lack of faith in those practical things causes us to not to be able to lead then what’s our message anyway?

From a recent issue of Preaching Magazine