What Happens When Pastors Love Their Vision More Than Their People

I love what’s happening with the replanting arm of our North American Missions Board. One of the great tenets of their ministry is that a replanter must be a visionary shepherd, finding a balance between having a God-entrenched vision for His church and a love for His people.

Sadly, those two aspects can be off-balance. You can love (or fear) your people so much that you do not lead; or you can love your vision so much that people get in the way.

Here’s what can happen:

  1. A growing misdirection of their love–it goes more toward self than those whom they are called to shepherd. If pastors love their vision more than the people they are called to serve, they may betray an attitude and their heart that shows they really love themselves more than they do they’re people.
  2. A growing disgruntlement against their people for not understanding the ‘rightness’ of their leader.Many pastors enter into the ministry with false expectations and ideals. They see themselves as the resident experts and rescuers of a problem church, rather than ones who are rolling up their sleeves to serve alongside people that they truly care about.
  3. A growing disillusionment to the ministry in general, and to their church in particular.  As a result, many question they’re calling in the ministry, or leave ministry all together.
  4. A growing division to the influencers and leaders in the church. Those influencers have been at those churches for longer than those pastors and could well be there when the pastor leaves. Pastors  need long, productive talks with their leadership to understand the culture of the church, then to provide a mutual sharpening. The vision then becomes a result of the collective rather than just the pastors. Plus, this shows they love those with whom they serve.
  5. A growing despair on the homefront–after all, no pastor ever lived who didn’t take all they carried (good and bad) into their homes. Sadly, pastors often talk about their issues in front of their children. As a result, PKs associate church with pain and trouble. 
  6. A growing disenchantment with Christ for putting the pastor with this condition in such a situation. Many pastors may ask, Lord, why did you send me to this church? They don’t get my vision, they don’t appreciate my gifts, etc. But again, the problem is a love of self over and against a love of the people to whom Christ sent them, which means they love self more than Jesus. 

Dear Church, pray for your pastors. Selfishness is a cardinal joy stealer. Pastors like anyone else are prone to the love of self. Pray that God would provide people in their lives to keep them humble and to invest in them as needed.

Dear pastors, shepherd the flock of God. Love your people as fellow pilgrims in this world. Treasure the value of the local church with all its warts and wrinkles. Believe me, your church may well treasure you with all your warts and wrinkles.


Fifteen Lessons (So Far) from Nehemiah 1-2

NehemiahSo far at Arapahoe Road, we’ve spent three Sundays on two chapters of Nehemiah. So far, we’ve gleaned thirteen lessons for leaders from these first two chapters alone. Pray for the leaders of your church as they shepherd the flock of God in the sufficiency of Christ.

  1. Know the reality of God’s Word (Nehemiah 1:8-9).
  2. Know the reality of your present circumstances (1:2-3).
  3. Have a desperation to bridge the gap between His Word and your situation .
  4. Continue praying and fasting by (1:4)…
  5. Adore the God who made you and made your people, the Church (1:5).
  6. Admit your sins both as individuals and as a people (1:6-7).
  7. Remember the promises that God gave (1:8-9)
  8. Go at the speed of God (1:10-11).
  9. Look and pray for opportunities He will provide (2:1-3).
  10. Be prepared for God’s vision and mission to consume you (2:1-3)
  11. Engage in flare prayers (2:4).
  12. Follow through with the opportunities He provides (2:9).
  13. Recognize that critics will abound when we engage in God’s work (2:10, 19).
  14. Inspect the situation for yourself–don’t just take someone’s word for it, but take His Word for it (2:11-16).
  15. Bring others along with you to see the opportunities and follow through as well (2:17-20)–i.e. discipleship.

In reading Nehemiah 1-2, what other lessons do you see arising from the text?

Starting the Year Answering the Hardest Question for an Organization


Over Christmas, my wife and kiddos bought me some presents that I absolutely treasured.  (Notice I said ‘wife and kiddos’—a big step for me, since I only quit believing in Santa at the age of 38.  But, I digress!)  My family knows well not only what I like (anything Cincinnati Bengals, Colorado Rapids, or Arsenal) and what I need.  I know I was a grown-up when I started enjoying getting clothes for Christmas!  The people who know you best, also are the ones who know your heart.

Do we believe that this church belongs to Jesus?  Sometimes, I overhear people saying that ARBC is “my church.”  That statement is good—if you realize how God has called you to invest in others.  But that statement can be bad: “This church belongs to me and what I say, goes!”  Goodness, just typing that statement gave me the chills, for Jesus said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”

Now we come to the hardest question any organization (church or otherwise) could ask itself:  “Why do we exist?”  That can stop you in your tracks, right?  It’s the type of question that you think you know and take for granted that you have the answer… until you realize that you have trouble articulating it clearly.

We may say, “Well, we exist to win others to Christ!”  If you get down to it, that’s a ‘what’—it’s what we do, but this sentence doesn’t clearly state why.  You may say, “We come to grow in the Word and to love each other.”  This may split some hairs, but that’s actually a how, not a why.  It’s more behavioral.  Helpful, but not quite it!

I’ve struggled for four years—four years—begging God to give me a why that each and every one of our people can rally around.   In our day, when the world is unraveling at the seems, what can help the Christian focus.  Then it happened as a result of a conversation I had about this very subject with Jim Misloski, our State Missions Director (East Side) for our Colorado Baptists.

The why is this: we exist to glorify God (Psalm 115:1).  Now, were you like me, having that V8 moment when you hit yourself square in the forehead?

The what is this:  make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).  Our ‘Gather to Go’  serves this purpose, gathering as disciples to go and make disciples.

The how:  our grow in the Word, love one another, serve our neighbors, and go to the nations behaviors serve this purpose.

On the plane ride back to Denver from Kentucky, it hit me.  Hard.  Between-the-eyes hard.  A vision is a preferred future.  What’s mine?  What’s God’s?  What should be ours?

Where every heart in Denver believes that Jesus is enough.  That’s it!  The sufficiency of Christ.  We live in a city where the majority say, “Enough of Jesus!”  We (metaphorically) scream back, “No, Jesus is enough!

This speaks to our church as well, where Christ is assumed and peripheral issues come to the forefront.

This speaks to our culture, where Christ is erased from the collective conscience.

This why fuels the what and the how.  The sufficiency of Christ as we preach, sing, go to Sugar City, work in our cubicle, drive down the highway, write that letter, serve that neighbor.  We must want this for our city!  It’s not about us anymore.  God has given us a present on a tree named Jesus.  What He did was enough to secure our salvation, our walk in Him, and our eternal life.  He is enough—He’s more than enough.  You know it…

… don’t you want your city, your state, your nation, your world to know it, too?  God know what we need and what our world needs!

Pastor Matt