Our #church #leader identity crisis

It happens gradually to church leaders. We walk the halls on the weekend as people nod at us.  They know who we are.  Heck, they even know when we don’t know them at the local store.  “He’s the worship leader,” they say.  “Good morning Pastor,” they might respond.

Our titles create a problem that gets in the way of our primal identity. Here’s how it plays out…

A title leads one to believe they have specific role to play. Many times it’s written out in a position description.  We become the ‘Worship Pastor’ or the ‘Youth Pastor’ or (heaven forbid) the ‘Senior Pastor.’  Sometimes we get fancy and care about what the titles say (Senior Pastor vs. Lead Pastor; or Children’s Ministry Director vs. Children’s Pastor).  Yes, titles are important.  They give accountability and order at an organizational level.

Titles give us our identity. That can be a good or bad thing.  Sometimes we don’t live up to our titles.  Other times we do.  And, yet, occasionally we step outside our titled role in order to play a role God is calling us to (maybe to fill in a gap, season of organizational life, etc.).

The problem with titles is that they usually skip the most foundational identity we should cling to.

Chances are good that readers of this blog hold the title of “Christian.” This means you.  If not, know the word Christian is a title foundational to us as followers of Christ.  Acts 11:26 is the first place in the Bible that uses the term — describing the disciples.  The disciples were students of a teacher, Jesus in this case.  They figuratively and literally followed Him and His teachings.  The term means “little-Christs” — similar to how a child learns as an offspring of a parent.  A child is like a “little-parent” of their parents.  Get it?  Someone is a Christian if they are a life student of Christ.

The problem with this syntax is the word “Christian” holds many complex and confusing meanings today. If someone is a Christian, maybe it means they simply attend church regularly.  Maybe it means they love the USA, a pick-up, and pray before meals.  Maybe it means they are a good person with a “former-life” tattoo or two.  Maybe it means they aren’t Jewish or Muslim.  And don’t forget all the flavors…Catholic, Charismatic, Evangelical, Born-Again, Protestant…and the confusing cross-over list goes on.  The point here is that the term “Christian” has lost its original value.  Yet, what it once stood for — is at the core of who we are as student followers of Christ.

Bottom line, titles vary from person to person as church leaders…but the most important role we ought to live up to is that of “Christian” (a student follower of Christ). If one is a student, it means they will do “student-like” things (study, observe, read, memorize, practice, experiment, etc.)  If one is a follower, it means they will do “follower-like” things (loyal to the leader, wait for someone to point the direction, move when the direction is given, move in the way that benefits the leader’s mission/vision).

Personally, being a “Worship Pastor” is an easier role to play at church than being a student follower of Jesus (Christian) outside the church.  That’s for a whole other day…

How about you?

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