8 Attributes of the Excellent Sr. Pastor

A little while ago a church elder asked me whether I had a list of the ideal attributes of a Sr. Pastor. I realized that I had those in my head but had never written them down in one place. So here is my list of the leadership attributes of the excellent Sr. Pastor. While a leader can be truly gifted or have a naturally designed strength in some of these areas, no one person will have natural strengths in all of them. But to be the most effective church leader, a pastor should understand each of these, have learned to be skillful in several, and intentionally be working on the others.

Note that these don’t include the other skills and proficiencies that a pastor needs, such as preaching, teaching, Bible knowledge, pastoral counseling, etc. Nor do they include specific attributes that are unique to church planters or churches in other specific situations in it’s history.

  1. Models the church’s values — Exemplifies and models the church’s Real Core Values and Aspirational Values, as well. If they are truly real values and the leader doesn’t exemplify them, there will be a cultural mismatch between the pastor and the church. And if the aspirational values are going to become real ones, the leadership, beginning with the Sr. Pastor, must model them.
  2. Vision-orientation — Endorses the church’s vision, able to vision cast (could be a natural talent or a learned skill), and constantly strives to align the church with its vision.
  3. Strategic thinking — Leads the church in continually evaluating and planning how to best reach its vision and mission.
  4. Team leadership — Able to build and lead cohesive Elder Board and Staff teams and encourages other leaders to also lead through effective ministry teams.
  5. Level 5 leadership (a term coined by Jim Collins in the book Good to Great) — Personal humility (Continuously surrenders leadership to the Holy Spirit and points to others’ successes) combined with organizational drive (and takes personal responsibility for failures and lack of progress).
  6. Results and relationship balance – Equips and enables others to act by delegating well, holding them accountable, and encouraging their hearts, while loving and relating to others openly and vulnerably. Since most people are naturally wired to be more results or relationship oriented, this means that he has good awareness of his own bent and intentionally focuses on the non-strength area to lead with more balance.
  7. Disciple maker — Makes disciples through evangelism and intentional life-on-life discipleship and equips others to do the same.
  8. Emotional intelligence — Exhibits an understanding of his own emotions and manages them appropriately. Also has an awareness of the emotions of others as he responds to them appropriately.

Where are your pastor’s strengths on this list and where could he use some coaching? If you are looking for a pastor, how would you prioritize these attributes for your church?

What are your thoughts about this list? What would you add, subtract, or change?

© 2014 Transform, LLC and John Purcell

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