As a pastor/leader, there are three groups of people whom I believe we need to constantly be hanging out with in order for God to stretch us in regards to our leadership. They are:
1. Those who are behind you.
One of the mistakes I’ve seen some pastors make is having the idea that once their church grows larger than so-and-so’s church, there is nothing more that they could learn from them.
Nothing could be more untruthful!
One of the things I love to do is hang out with guys who are currently where I have been at some point in my past. Why? Because I LEARN from them. God uses them to stretch me. They don’t have the resources to do all that they really want to do, so they are forced to rely on passion and true innovation.
Some of my best sermon and leadership ideas have been brought on because I have the privilege of hanging out with guys who may have 100 people or fewer in their churches.
2. Those who are alongside you.
One of the things I have loved about the blog world is that it has opened up a network of connections for me. Through it I have been able to meet up with pastors from all over the U.S. who have churches that look much different from NewSpring, but they have hearts for Jesus Christ and a desire to see people come to Him.
One of the mistakes that I don’t want to begin making is falling into the competitive pastors’ camp. I want to hang out with guys who have churches around the same size as NewSpring, and when they grow past us — to celebrate with them.
People who are where you currently are most likely experience some of the same issues and problems you are wrestling with. Pastors, you need to place yourselves in these environments as often as possible. God will use them to radically encourage you.
3. Those who are in front of you.
Again, one of the sad patterns I am noticing is an increase in insecure pastors and church planters. These insecure guys get together and rip apart/tear down those who are experiencing some level of success instead of being a student of something that might be working.
I learned several years ago that I can hate and despise those who are more successful than me and spend my time trying to convince others why I am better than they are, OR I can do everything that is within my ability to place myself in an environment where I can meet with incredible church leaders that God has His hand all over that can speak truth into my life.
For this to happen, I’ve paid money to sit at round tables. I traveled halfway across the country just to have lunch with one pastor. I rearranged my schedule. I am freakishly obsessed with this, and I will do whatever it takes to meet with these great men of God in order to better myself. (Instead of sitting around with guys who think just like me and accomplish nothing!)
I’ve been accused of name dropping. Am I guilty? Yes! I name drop like crazy! Why? Because I want people to know that God is allowing me to meet with and learn from some incredible leaders. I want them to know I am not satisfied with where I am as a pastor — I want to become better and better.
Over the past several years, I’ve had the privilege of sitting down one-on-one with John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeshel, Ed Young, Jud Wilhite, Greg Surratt, Mark Driscoll and Troy Gramling. Each time I sit with these guys, God stretches me.
What are you doing to place yourself in these three environments?