I’ve been called a happy pastor. It’s not something I’ve cultivated intentionally—I truly love being a pastor, not just in general but specifically of Arapahoe Road.
But I’ve also been around happy pastors as well—and are they ever a delight. Those pastors do not have any less challenges than the dour pastors, but the attitude behind is filled with gratitude and hopefulness and opportunity. Outside of rare instances, this happiness and hopefulness is contagious.
Unhappy pastors convey a hopelessness. And it’s just as contagious. Hopelessness breeds hopelessness. Despair breeds despair. Gratitude is replaced by grumbling. Opportunity takes a hike, so the reality of the present is ever-present.
Happy pastors are not ones with their head in the sand, ignoring the situations around them. The true test of leadership is defining reality.
Happy pastors must not be goofy pastors—thus conveying a lack of seriousness to their calling or their church.
But it’s here that pastors and leaders have a choice: will you look at the sadness of the situation, or will you look at the gladness for an opportunity to watch God work?
How do you as pastors become happy?
- Pray. Pray for Christ’s perspective for His church. Pray for the condition of your own heart toward Christ and toward the people whom you are shepherding. Pray for God to give you a heart to lead as a servant and serve as a leader. Pray for God to give you a heart to not just pastor as a leader but to be pastoralto you people. And pray for patience (2 Timothy 4:3-5).
- Define the reality of a situation. For me, is the Great Commission the paradigm by which we gauge success and faithfulness in the church? If that grips the heart of a pastor and a church, then that’s a win.
- Prioritize what is a first tier issue from a second or third tier issue. If you as a pastor identify a number of issues to address, prioritize them or you will be overwhelmed. Albert Mohler’s article ontheological triage is helpful. What some deem first tier issues (things to address yesterday) from second and third tier.
- Surround yourself with both encouragers and identifiers—have the balance of the two. If you’re around encouragers all the time, you will miss the issues. If you’re around those always identifying what the issues are, you will become discouraged.
- Fall in love with the place and people where God called you. What a privilege that God has given us to pour the gospel into others to help them grow-and-go. What a privilege to open up God’s Word and to preach and teach and counsel and evangelize! Some times we don’t see the forest (God’s sovereign call to His people) for the trees (the particular challenges that may arise).
- Identify leaders who will partner with you in the ministry–happily. We cannot do this alone. We weren’t meant to—so we find people who have bought into the direction and invest in them so they may invest in others. You know, 2 Timothy 2:1-2 put into action.
What do you think? Let’s hear from you who are happy pastors, want to be happy pastors, those who aren’t happy pastors and wish they were, and from those of you who wish for happy pastors—or even have one?
And while you’re at it, consider what part you play in that joyfulness of a pastor by reading Hebrews 13:17.