Monday, July 16, 2012

What I Learned in Year 1

Today officially marks one year of being senior pastor at Corbett Avenue Wesleyan Church in Fredericton, NB. I'm also met with the feeling that it feels longer than that and shorter- but one year it is. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an overanalyzer- can't help it. When it comes to the realm of "Senior Pastor" it's no different.

On one hand I have been connected to the senior pastor role since the day I was born, as my dad served in that capacity the whole time that I lived at home. Even on staff, it's no secret, I was much more intrigued by the senior pastor role than my own...haha- I'm sure to the joy of Mark Thompson, Jim Agrell, and Dave Wilcox!

But, being the son of a senior pastor or being on the staff and being connected to the senior pastor is much different than sitting in the position yourself. So here is what I learned after actually sitting in this position for the first time!

1. Senior Leadership is not easy!

Most staff pastors have said these words, "if I was leading that's not how I would do it...and truth be told, if I was leading, I would do it better!" Some of that is a God given desire and passion to lead, but mostly it's ignorance! It's a lot easier to be the carefree "Maverick" when the buck doesn't stop with you! Leading people and being responsible for the spiritual well being of large groups of people is much more difficult when the final decision rests on your shoulders. You see the ripple effect of your decisions, the consequences, you interpret how everyone will process it- not just one ministry. I had one pastor say that you can't truly feel the weight until it's actually on your shoulders- he was 100% right! Staff guys, support and come alongside your Senior Pastor!

2. Learning to lead in tension is a must!

See Andy Stanley's talk from Leadership Summit '11- it's brilliant. Leading in tension is the idea that some problems just can't be solved, you can't wait for everything to be perfect before you begin to lead. There would be no need for leaders if everyone knew what to do! Also, there is rarely a "right way" to do something- there are good ways, and the leader needs to discern where to go, some may agree, some won't, that's part of leading. I thought that if I found the right way then others would also agree...maybe, but never always. Tensions will always be there.

3. You can't substitute anything else in place of hearing God's voice for yourself!

You cannot lead by general consensus! There is wisdom found is trusting key leaders and mature believers- but they can't be your god. Nothing can replace your time alone with God listening to His voice! You can't lead to please the masses, you can't preach to appease the crowd, or even make decisions to make your entire staff happy- you must know that you are walking in step with God, and make sure that He is pleased.

4. I'm called to be a pastor, not a CEO.

I love leadership, but I was called to be a pastor. I always want to keep those things in balance. I worry that sometimes in the modern church we have replaced "pastors" with "leaders" and "preachers" with "communicators". Some might think this is semantics- but I don't think it is. My dad had a study, I have an office. It's a subtle change, but it's a change. I am called to a people not an organizational structure. I absolutely want to lead my people, but as a shepherd would, not a business executive.

5. I still love, and believe in, the local church.

Hybels says it over and over- "the local church is the hope of the world"- agreed! I grew up as a PK- I DO NOT HAVE ROSE COLORED GLASSES!! I just believe that if Christ birthed the church, if the church is His bride, and if the church is His body- if Jesus hasn't changed that, then why should I? I believe that God has given me a gift to be an optimistic realist- I can see the church, even my church, with all of it's flaws and failures and yet still believe in what we can do and where God is leading us!

It's been a huge year, and I hope the 2nd is even bigger. I hope I keep growing in my calling, I hope our people grow in the love and grace of Jesus, and that our church would be a force in our community!


  1. Awesome blog AJ. I am sure it was easier to sit and think about how you would do it than to sit where you have to do it! I know you are an awesome "senior Pastor" and lead by example and follow "thee example" that was set before you by Jesus. Love and Blessings on you, Julia and Adele for year 2!

  2. Amen and Amen, P. AJ!! I know God has you where He wants you to be and you are truly "blooming where you are planted". Blessings on you as you go forth and be God's light in this dark world!! :o)

  3. Whoa! Such wise words! I am praying for you and Julia, and now Adele Joy .... God has called you and He will equip you. May you never give up spending quiet time with HIM - listening for HIS quiet whisper to speak into your heart! And may you follow HIS leading! Blessings on you all as you venture into this second year! <3