As we engage the final of our four questions for the new pastor, let’s take a quick moment to review the first three pursuits.
We began with “where.” This is the question that centers you into a location, a specific setting, a cultural context and a people group. Knowing where you are is always the first step toward figuring out where you need to be. Too often, pastors con see their communities through a fuzzy lens, assuming that it is much the same as other places where they’ve served or other settings where folks ply their same trade. But until you can find the uniqueness of where you are, you will never uncover the uniqueness of what you are to do.
“Why” was our second question. “Why me?” “Why did God decide that I’d be the right fit for this place? Only passion can make sense of leadership. When what we long for is exactly what our location needs, we can experience the “fit” for this moment. In my experience, it’s the kingdom passion of the pastor that unites the hearts of those he/she leads.
Our third question considered the “who.” Who am I? Who is here with me? what are the gifts, the abilities, the passions that can be found resident in us? Since we believe that God knows what He’s doing, we can assume that He has been purposeful in bringing us to this place to be with these people for this particular moment in time. When we consider the “who” of our current reality, then deciding what we must do more easily comes into focus.
So now we’re ready for the question we wanted from the start. “How…”
As I hope you understand by now, the order of these four questions matters greatly. Truth is, you’ll never accurately answer this final question until you have effectively traversed the first three. And that’s okay. During those months of inquiry, you’ve also had a chance to build trust and relationship, the tools you’ll ultimately need to take these friends in new directions.
“How” combines the data gained thus far. It connects the truth of “where” and the community need you’ve uncovered with the “why” of your own passion. When you add the “who” of gifts and abilities that are with you, well, the “how” starts becoming the easiest question to answer. Ask questions like “what we’re we made to do?”
Don’t let seminars and the stories of others answer your “how.” These places have value in that they can show you someone else’s process of deciding on the “how,” but their answer isn’t your answer. Honestly, I’ve uncovered my best ideas while listening to someone talk about theirs. Our approaches and strategies were vastly different, but in the environment of listening to their “how,” my own began to fill my thoughts. In fact, sometimes it starts with hearing their story and thinking, Well, I can’t do that…but maybe I could do this…” And now we’re on our way!
If there’s a single thought I would want to stay with you from this brief series of blogs, it would be to keep the questions in the right order. Each depends on the former so take your time and answer them well. Seriously, take your time–months actually–so when you get to your conclusion, the rest of us are ready to follow.
You really are there on purpose–God’s purpose–so engage this new opportunity with faith and expectation. Great destinations lie ahead.