Friend or Leader?

If you would like to watch the Ministry Monday from which this blog is drawn visit our YouTube Channel Video here.  


In any congregation, one person is closer to the pastor than another. It is natural. More important than being somebody’s buddy is being respected enough to trust their leadership. Likeability, is not the most significant measure of a leader. We like the clown or the comic – but are we willing to follow them into some grand challenge.

Unsavory Things Will Happen

Every pastor deals with “stuff.” Your teaching or priorities will disappoint some. Some subjects hit a nerve and at times I’ve been overly direct or dramatic. However, we want people to know that we are approachable. If there is an issue, we are to be open to listen to their concerns. I mean really listen!

A phrase to use as you minister to people in difficult circumstances are the words: “You know I love you, You know I love you, You know I love you.” Those I’ve led know I love them. In part, I’ve never acted to protect a selfish interest, nor for my wife, or sons. When a pastor, puts on the “figurative” clerical collar - every person is of equal significance.  

Real Concern Goes a Long Way

People being able to say: “I know, I really do know that my pastor loves me,” is important. Why is it important for people to know this? At times, you will have to say something like:   

  • “I love you so much, I’m going to tell you some things that you’d rather not hear . . . “
  • “I love you so much that I’m going to appropriately confront an issue in your life. If address this matter it may well cost you your soul.”
  • “I noticed that you have seemed frustrated for a bit, is there anything we can talk about?”
  • “I have noticed that you are not as consistently involved in the church’s prayer ministry. That always concerns me. Is there anything we can address?”

No pastor enjoys such moments. The “sheep” don’t like them either. But in part the pastor’s role involves some loving guidance. Life change is often needed. Spiritual maturity must be attained. The issue is not enjoying each other’s company or being “liked,” instead the outcome is eternal.  

Respect vs. Like

To be respected and granted the right to influence people depends on more than being liked. Actors gain Academy Awards because someone enjoyed a role they played. Pastors ability to influence people does not come through popularity – but trust.

  • Trusted to be gracious in how we deal with the people they love.
  • Trusted to be sensitive to difficult seasons and not speak brashly when a quiet hug or touch says enough.
  • Trusted to not be disrespectful to family members and friends they want to see saved.
  • Trusted to be mindful of their wounds and minister to them.

Through your life as a pastor, there will be times when someone you lead might honestly say, “Pastor, I don’t like you much right now, you handled ____________ in a way that made me uncomfortable, but I trust you. I know you have my well-being in mind and would never do anything to intentionally hurt me.”

Respect is not gained quickly. It is the product of long obedience to God in a consistent direction. Time gets you there. It often takes years for people to trust, especially if they have been wounded by some other spiritual leader.

Be a shepherd, lead, feed, seek, and heal the hurting. Help people get to Heaven.   

For more reading on a similar subject, check out my blog: Pastor, thank you for seeking me.

For reading on how to be an effective pastor/shepherd, take a look at my book, The Science of Shepherding, where I aim to tackle issues that we come across during pastoral care and ministry.

If you would like to watch the Ministry Monday from which this blog is drawn visit our YouTube Channel Video here.  

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