One of the best things we can do as pastors and church leaders is to make sure we have the right “Connections” in our lives. The right connections will move you forward, while the wrong connections or missing connections will keep you stuck, and even move you backward.
Honestly, my fear is that church leaders will start reading the things listed below, but only lightly browse the content, not realizing the seriousness of how important these things are. Not to over-exaggerate, but these 5 things will “make or break” you as a church leader. Get these things right, and you’ll enjoy progress and encouragement along the way. Get these things wrong or choose to ignore them, and you’ll probably live in regret, discouragement, and fatigue along the way.
These 5 Connections have the power to super-charge your ministry and all the efforts that you put forth. It’s God’s Will that you enjoy the ride, no matter how difficult certain seasons are.
PLEASE carefully read each of these and let this list be a tool for personal evaluation. God wants you strong and healthy. God wants you encouraged and hopeful. God wants you to be positive and effective.
Here are 5 Connections Every Pastor Needs:
1. Personal Connection with God
This one is probably the most obvious. I mean, you’re a Christian leader. Of course, you need a personal connection to the one your entire faith revolves around. Unfortunately, many church leaders report a lack of personal time with God. Their prayer lives are weaker than you would imagine and the majority of their Bible study time comes only as an act required to get the Sunday message ready.
Personal time with God is FUEL for us as church leaders. We reach for so many other things to keep us fueled up, but this is an iron-clad foundation and it’s not going to change. Time with God will inspire, energize, strengthen and refuel us like absolutely nothing else.
This is paramount. We can’t ignore this. We NEED our personal connection to God to be strong and growing. Yes, there are plenty of things to take up all 24 of your hours each day, but that’s not God’s way. He wants TIME with you, and He never wants it to stop.
When things are really hard and also when things are really good, we can slink away from the daily habits that keep us spiritually healthy. Before you check anything else off your list, make sure this one is there. Make sure you have the routines and personal structures in place to keep you focused on “time with God”. Don’t let busyness win. Don’t let fear win. Don’t let tasks win. Your personal connection with God is a must.
Challenge: On a scale from 1-10, how is your personal connection with God?
2. Connection with Family
Beyond God, our family is the most important thing on Earth. Our spouses and kids are more important than our task list, but so many times we allow other things to get in the way of us living in the moment and capturing quality time with them. They willingly smile and nod when we’re too busy, or “something comes up”, but God’s looking at us to say NO to whatever we have to and keep our families in the second chair of priority.
We get calls at random times, have busy schedules, and wear lots of hats. There’s no shame in that. You shouldn’t even apologize for the chaotic life that is inevitable for Pastors. But there’s a line. We each have to define it and be courageous enough to stick to it.
Our lives are filled with opportunities to go do something that brings quick gratification, but God wants us to realize (and never forget) that the most important people are inside our homes, the most important tasks are simple games and meaningful conversations, and the biggest win we’ll ever accomplish will be staying connected with our families in a world full of other options.
- My spouse and kids deserve my best time.
- They deserve my attention and focus.
- They deserve for me to be “present” when I’m with them.
Believe me, I’m not discounting the difficulties of ministry. I’ve lived through some incredibly hard days with marriages failing, church members accusing, people doing things that break my trust in them, and a whole host of other things. But with all that in mind, my family needs me MORE.
Years ago, I personally found myself TOO consumed with things going on outside my home. There were some tough situations and decisions in the church, and my mind was consumed. One of my sons gave me a “puffy sticker” of Mr. Tomato, whom he thought was hilarious. : ) I stuck that sticker to the odometer in my car so I could see it every day, and remember that he thought it was so funny. Every time I looked at it, I tried to focus on the meaning of it. It did something to me to remember the simplicity of his laughter.
- Are you still throwing the ball, going fishing, having chats, and playing games?
- Are you still buying flowers, taking walks, and going on dates?
Do whatever it takes to never forget that beyond God, our families get our best time, attention, energy, and love.
Challenge: On a scale from 1-10, how is your personal connection with your family?
3. Connection with Trusted Friends
One of the toughest things for a Pastor to do is allow somebody into their inner circle. In fact, surveys have shown that many Pastors don’t have any close personal friends. Over time, we experience heartbreak and disappointments from getting too close to people. I get it. I’ve experienced it too. But we still need people.
We need real-life friends, who we really enjoy being around. We need people we can lean on and have inside jokes with. We need people we can relax around with all the “ministry switches” turned off.
If you don’t have them, pray that God will send them. It’s the same thing we tell the members of our church: You need the right people in your life. Connect with people and believe God is going to make it “click” with a few. When He does, don’t pull back. As you learn more about them personally, let them into your personal space. They won’t be perfect, but they’ll be a strength for you.
Challenge: On a scale from 1-10, how is your connection with trusted friends?
4. Connection with your Leaders
If you have read much from me, you know that I am passionate about leaders. As a Pastor, you can’t focus on everybody. God doesn’t even WANT you to focus on everybody. It isn’t reasonable or possible. What He DOES want you to do is focus on your Leaders.
Many of you have heard of the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 principle. One of the ways this applies to Pastors is that 80% of your focus should be on 20% of your people – the Leaders. Connecting with your leaders on a more personal level will bring so much strength to your church.
In a previous blog post, I wrote about ways to build up your leaders. Communicate with them, learn about their kids, take them to coffee, and write notes of appreciation. With Faith Teams, you can group your leaders using TAGS, and easily send a text message or email straight from within your account. We work hard on these tools, not just so that you can have another gadget, but because we know how important it is that you stay connected with certain groups of people.
Be creative, intentional, and consistent with your connection with the Team Leaders and Group Leaders God has sent to you. It’s the BEST spend of your time in ministry work.
Challenge: On a scale from 1-10, how is your connection with your leaders?
5. Connection to another Church
Not just any other church, but a specific church…
This one gets skipped over so often, but I believe it’s one of the most important things any Pastor can do. Our goal is to grow and strengthen our church, and we constantly think about the strategies that can help us accomplish that. We want our churches to grow, but we often feel stuck.
One of the VERY best things you can do as a Pastor is to connect with another church. Not just any church, but a church that is stronger than you are, and they look like what you want to become. You like the “feel” of their church. You like their structures. You like the way they do things. You like their building and the atmosphere they create on Sundays. When you look at their church, you want to become like that.
Here’s the key: Reach out and connect with them. Tell them bluntly that you are passionate about growing your church, and you love what their church is like. For some weird reason, church leaders feel like they have to come up with everything on their own and put their own spin on things, or it isn’t legit. What a LIE! The fastest way to succeed is to find somebody who has already done it and learn everything you can from them. This is an act of humility and surrender, telling them that you basically want to steal what they’ve already done. Believe me, they would LOVE to help you. You can save YEARS of trial-and-error, and cut-off YEARS of frustration by simply identifying a church you want to become like, and connecting with them.
Challenge: On a scale from 1-10, how connected are you with a Pastor who is already where you want to get to?
As Pastors, we sometimes feel like Lone Rangers, but God doesn’t want us to be alone. He wants you close to Him, close to your family, close to a few trusted friends, close to your key leaders, and close to at least one other Pastor who can be a mentor to you as you move forward.
This post isn’t meant to beat you up, but to encourage you to develop the right connections and not let the most important things slip. It IS possible to have a healthy and strong lifestyle as a Pastor. It IS possible to be steady in the midst of chaotic seasons. The right CONNECTIONS is one of the primary keys to experiencing that.
We believe in you!
You can do this!