The Six Key Roles in a Pastor’s Life

Jimmy Dodd | , ,

Few would argue that most pastors are not equipped to handle the daily challenges and crisis they face, which largely contributes to the Church not reaching its full redemptive potential.

Pastors and ministry leaders who are prepared for the challenges of ministry and as a result, thrive in life and ministry, commonly have six roles filled in their life.  At PastorServe, we are committed to help pastors fill these six primary roles. Three of these roles are personal while three are professional.

Personally, pastors need a mentor, a counselor and a friend.  Professionally, pastors need a boss / supervisor, a coach and a trainer.

This does not necessarily need to be six distinctive individuals.  One person may effectively function in multiple roles.  For example, a coach may be a close friend.  A counselor can be a mentor.  A boss can be a trainer.  However, it is ill advised (if not unequivocally foolish) for one person to simultaneously fulfill the roles of boss and counselor.  In fact, it is exceptionally difficult to simultaneously fill the roles of boss and coach as well as the roles of boss and mentor.  The following explanation of the six roles explains why.

Specifically, the three professional roles are as follows:

Boss / Supervisor
A boss provides structure and accountability.  Though hiring may come through a team process, the boss commonly possesses the authority to fire.  It is this authority that makes it difficult if not impossible for the boss to simultaneously fill the role of coach or counselor.  Few pastors will confess their sins to their boss knowing it could mean the end of their employment.  At PastorServe, we are no ones boss.

At PastorServe, we do a great deal of coaching.  We believe that all of life impacts ministry effectiveness (1 Timothy 4:16).  PastorServe coaching strives to assist the pastor in their professional and personal life. Personally, coaching helps you think more intentionally about your marriage, family, faith, relationships, health and finances. Professionally, coaching helps you think through your leadership philosophy, your primary role and responsibilities, the mission and vision of the church, major projects, priorities and goals. Further, PastorServe coaching seeks to assist you in skill development and methodology. Utilizing strategic questions and customized, one-on-one sessions we assist the pastor in developing a Personal and Professional Plan to achieve results in the key areas of your life.

Coaching is peer oriented.  It is a relationship in which the coach helps the pastor to see the big picture of ministry.  While steeped in grace, the coach strives to produce an improvement in the performance of the pastor.

Training focuses upon the process of acquiring pastoral ministry skills.  A trainer can be a teacher leading a specific course, a seminar leader at a conference or the author of a book that is leading you through a particular pastoral competency.  Commonly, pastors don’t have the budget to attend a ministry conference nor do they have the time to engage in a helpful book.  Sadly, some pastors view themselves as having moved beyond the need for training.  In fact, for the supremely arrogant, the thought of sitting under another leader is repugnant, as they mistakenly believe that no one can advance their pastoral skill set.

Specifically, the three personal roles are as follows:

A mentor focuses upon life skills.  They assist the pastor in navigating the labyrinth of life.  Mentoring is by definition a long-term relationship.  This is a friend who possesses the ability to maintain the 60,000-foot perspective.  The most effective mentors are outside of a pastor’s everyday authority structure. A lead pastor cannot effectively mentor another pastor serving on his staff.  He simply cannot maintain the proper perspective.  The same would apply to an elder mentoring a pastor.

The best mentors are pastors who at one time pastored the pastor being mentored.  Also effective as mentors are former pastoral colleagues and college or seminary professors.  We encourage pastors to seek out two to three mentors for a variety of perspectives.

While a coach looks forward, a counselor looks back.  A counselor provides personal insight into one’s self.  The focus is on self-perception.  A counselor helps a pastor process hurts, challenges as well as decisions and opportunities.  Counseling can address fathering wounds (carried by a majority of pastors), marriages challenges, parenting challenges and a host of other issues.  Counseling is not necessarily reactive.  The most effective counseling is proactive, tackled by the pastor before being thrown into a crisis.

Friend / Encourager
The friend / encourager is someone committed to providing encouragement through regular conversation, prayer and unconditional support.  It is not the role of the friend to provide a systemized approach to pastoral evaluation. The friend is a consistent presence who is committed to allowing the pastor to be authentic and totally transparent.  The best friends to pastors are found outside of their local congregation.  A friend introduces a pastor as their friend before identifying them as a pastor.

These six roles are vital for a pastor.  Tragically, we at PastorServe regularly interact with pastors who have none of the six roles filled in their life.  They lead an elder team compromised of senior staff (they are the boss), they have never had a coach and they can’t find the time for training (or, they are always doing the training).  Personally, they lost touch with their mentor a dozen years ago, they have never been to counseling and – they painfully confess – they do not have a single close friend in the world let alone in their local congregation.  This is a formula for pastoral ruin.

Why does PastorServe continue to thrive?  The answer is quite simple.  Because PastorServe exists to equip pastors for the challenges they face and to come along side of them in times of crisis. We are a confidential Gospel driven ministry where pastors go to receive grace, care, council, and equipping from and for the battle.  And, we are no ones boss.

PastorCare, a proactive tool designed by PastorServe to care for pastors, provides an exceptional introduction to coaching, training, counseling and friendship.  PastorCare is an outstanding foundational resource for those looking to take steps in filling the six roles so necessary to the life of a pastor.

Strengthen Your Church

Strengthening your church, for us, begins by serving you, the pastor!