In anticipation of our upcoming Prairie Flower Town Hall Meeting on Sunday, June 15th at 6:00 PM, I wanted to set before you some of my thoughts concerning pastoral priorities. You see, life has a way of throwing us many curveballs. Sometimes these curveballs will lead us to a new set of priorities, and this is a good thing (ex. marriage, new career, etc.). However, some curveballs are nothing more than distractions from the original plan, goal, or established objective. Such distractions come masked as “good ideas” or “opportunities”. The successful pastor must learn to counter these distractions with strength, resolve, and faith in God.
However, one of the very best ways to counter distractions in pastoral ministry is to clearly set and define the priorities of your life and ministry from the very beginning of your pastorate. Setting such priorities will enable you to respond effectively to certain situations instead of reacting emotionally to them. The purpose of this blog post is to simply reveal to you the man (i.e. yours truly) behind these pastoral priorities.
Webster’s Dictionary defines a priority as, “something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.” In other words, a priority is a person, place, or thing that deserves attention before any other person, place, or thing. As a pastor, I believe that I have a responsibility to decide who and what is a priority in my life and ministry. Such a task must be accomplished with God-empowered wisdom and discernment. In addition to this, in order to be effective in establishing and carrying out pastoral priorities, the man behind the priorities must have the following skills: decision making skills, discipline, and confidence.
The pastor who seeks to establish priorities must be a man who knows how and when to make a decision. In other words, he must be ready, willing, and able to make a decision on what is and is not a priority. He must be able to say, “This is a priority, and this is not a priority.” Such decision making skills will not only keep the pastor focused, but allow him to guide his congregation in a fair and firm manner.
He must also be a man of discipline. That is, he must not only be able to make a decision, but be able to stand by his priorities even in the midst of conflict. He must be able to say, “These are the established, and agreed upon priorities, and this is what every proposed event or action will be filtered through.” Such discipline gives authority and power to the priorities, and makes them more real for the congregation.
The pastor must also be a man of confidence. This is closely associated with discipline, but has the element of trust and boldness in God. The pastor who establishes priorities must do so in full reliance upon God and in complete confidence in his God-given gifts, talents, and abilities. Nothing is more dangerous to established pastoral priorities than lack of confidence in them. Just being able to make decisions on priorities, and sticking by them, is not enough; he must have confidence in them. The Bible states in James 1:8, “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” Therefore, if the pastor establishes priorities, and then haphazardly follows them, his people will lose confidence in his leadership, and he will quickly become ineffective. The pastor must be able to say, with confidence, “I have established these priorities on the authority of the Word of God, and I am confident that He has led me to establish them in this order.”
Friends of Prairie Flower, pray for your pastor. Pray for the leadership team at this church. We need wisdom. We need discernment. We need a good dose of guts as we move forward. Bottom line, momentum creates change…and we, as a church, are experiencing momentum. Thus, change is upon us whether we like it or not. The question is how do I, as your leader, guide you through these changes? How do I channel the momentum? Answer: by setting, defining, and sticking to my pastoral priorities! What are these proposed pastoral priorities? Come to the Town Hall Meeting this Sunday at 6:00 PM to find out!