A Great Executive Pastor Allows You To 'Do You'


By: Justin Anderson

So you’ve hired an executive pastor and it’s going great. He is building systems, managing people, and generally making things better. He complements you vocationally, and the two of you are connected relationally. You feel freed up in ways that you never thought possible. So what do you do with all that free time?

If you’re anything like me, your first instinct is probably to feel a little guilty. Someone else is doing all the things you hate and aren’t good at. You might be tempted to keep doing some of those things for a while because it all just seems too good to be true. This would be a huge mistake. You hired your XP to run the operations of the church, to manage the staff, to organize teams, so let him do his job. It’s what he’s good at and gives him joy. It’s not selfish to let someone do their job – it’s selfish to try to do it for them.

You do you.

Hopefully, you’ve freed up at least 10 hours a week, if not more. What are you going to do with those hours? If you’re smart, you will do what you love and are good at. Seriously. There are a whole bunch of things about ministry that you love doing and you are likely the best person on your team at doing them. Do more of those things.

Leadership Consultant Brendan Burchard talks about identifying your PQO, your Prolific Quality Output. PQO’s are the activities that produce the highest impact for your organization. For a business, that might be making sales calls or designing marketing strategies. For a Lead Pastor, it’s likely preaching, vision casting, and leadership development.

For most Lead Pastors, those three activities have the highest impact on the health and effectiveness of their church. No matter how much culture changes, the pulpit will always be the most powerful communication tool at the church’s disposal, so good preaching will always have an outsized impact. Vision is the gas pedal that builds momentum and energy, and leadership development is the key to long term health and growth.

The bonus is that these are also usually the things that pastors enjoy the most! Most pastors get into ministry for these very reasons and they tend to be super life-giving. This is the ideal combination of satisfying and high-impact work, so do more of these things!

You do you, but actually you.

These three things might not be your 3 things, but I would argue that if you don’t resonate with at least two of the three, you may not be ideally suited for the Lead Pastor role. This is not a bad thing, but it is necessary to know so that both you and your church can really thrive.

I talk to LP’s all the time who love to preach but aren’t really engaged with vision or leadership development. This is actually super common in small churches. These kinds of guys just want to preach the Word, and do some discipleship, counseling, and hospital visits. This is great! We need pastors like this, but it’s important to recognize what the inevitable impact is of a leader who doesn’t do vision or leadership development.

There is no perfect LP profile, but there’s always an impact to work not done or not done well. If this is you, consider the possibility that God has best equipped you to be an associate pastor or even a chaplain. It’s not to say that churches with a lead pastor like this can’t be healthy – they absolutely can – but likely they will struggle to gain momentum unless the preacher can really preach.

You do you, but better.

Once you have clearly identified the main things that you are going to give your time to, it’s time to make a growth plan. You should never stop learning, never stop growing, and never stop trying to get better at the things that matter the most. Any time you hire someone on your team that will take work from you, invest some of that new time in growth.

Get a coach, buy a practical book, subscribe to a training program or cohort. Whatever you do, get better! This is one of the main themes I teach over and over in my coaching and cohorts. We can’t stop growing and pushing ourselves. There is too much to do and too much at stake!

You get to do the job you love and it has a huge impact on your church and the people you serve. Out of sheer thankfulness, we should honor the work by improving at it every chance we get. This is your chance to really get focused, so don’t miss it!