In any revitalization effort there are several influential factors: polity, church reputation, financial resources and liabilities are just a few. One challenge or asset, depending on how you leverage it that is often overlooked is the personality of the pastor.
The Pastor’s personality influences many things, some include:
- The attitude and health of the church staff of leadership.
- The resiliency of the church to handle inevitable storms and conflicts
- The public presentation of the church in general
If the lead pastor has an abrasive personality it is not uncommon for similar personality types to be attracted to the church. When guests and community leaders interact with the church pastor and members they might find it to be rigid and offensive, understandably so.
Some Pastors may be more non confrontational and passive and as a result a person with a negative or adverse agenda finds that body to be great place to establish his or her tiny kingdom. Other Pastors are loving and encouraging and draw similar people to their congregation.
If you exploring replanting or are currently serving a Pastor it is important to know your personality. In what ways should you think through your personality and even leverage the strengths of that personality for the Glory of God and the good of the church?
Identify your personality. You probably have some idea about your personality make up but more than likely you are not fully aware. One free and robust online assesment is called 16 personalities (https://www.16personalities.com/free-personality-test). I would encourage you to take the time to complete the survey and then reflectively read through the information that is provided.
Determine your fit with the rest of the leadership. Whether you have paid staff or lay volunteers, you are working closely with other people and their personalities. Encourage you entire team to complete an assessment and then have an honest conversation about how your personalities could help each other. In my experience it was far easier for me to regularly communicate my weaknesses and explain my perspectives to the rest of the staff. This helped create awareness of who I am and how I lead and operate as they serve with me. As time went on I have had the opportunity to learn from each of our team members and their unique personalities. Our hiring process now includes personality assessments so that we begin with an awareness of how the new team member’s personality will impact our existing team.
Lean into your strengths. Open and honest communication about your weaknesses is beneficial. At the same time, allowing yourself to lead from strengths God has given you is also a plus. Too often we shy away from things we have been conditioned to think are unattractive. We may believe that a person with a strong opinion is mean spirited. Our someone who exercises mercy and grace is too soft. In truth, we need someone to step out and lead, even if he or she does so with decided strength and determination and direct speech. We need others who are gentle and encouraging. If we diminish or devalue our strengths or the strengths of others, we do a disservice to the church and our team.
Shore up your weaknesses. Everyone has inherent weaknesses. Once you have identified yours, communicate them, make sure you are leaning on those who have complementing strengths. If you are not strong in empathy, that is OK, so long as you listen to those who are and take those opinions into consideration.
Differing personalities can often grate on each other, causing us to avoid those who are not like us. In response, we may retreat and avoid others. It is important to push back on that response. The pastorate is too big of a calling to let your pride keep you from forming the most effective leadership team possible. The Gospel is too grand to allow our differences to divide us.
Be clear of and confident in your unique personality style and recognize that God can use it for his glory and others good. Committing to know yourself, your personality with its strengths and weaknesses is one of the most impactful steps you can take in leading your church toward health and vitality.
Published October 11, 2016