The importance of hanging out

By Sam S. Rainer III

The Great Commission requires that we enter into the lives of people. Quality leadership means that you are among those who follow you. Pastors are shepherds that lead by example. These elements of church leadership involve approachability, transparency and trust.

No pastor begins a ministry with several chips in the pockets. Pastors must earn the respect of the congregation. A healthy relationship between pastor and congregation forms over time and in many different ways. For instance, a string of solid decisions shows the church a pastor has talent and discernment. An archive of theologically sound sermons d emonstrates a pastor can communicate God’s word. Years of service reveal the fruit of a long-term vision.

One uncomplicated leadership trait that is easy to neglect, however, is simply hanging out with the people.  While some pastors shirk their responsibilities by being with others too much, many of us pastors don’t take enough time to be with families and small groups of people. And perhaps more than any other trait, spending time with the body enhances approachability, transparency and trust.

Here’s a short list of the benefits of hanging out:

Leading by example in real time: It’s tough show people the right way if no one ever sees you do it. How does a pastor demonstrate living incarnationally? By being among the people.

Discovering opportunities to mix with people outside the church: One of the easiest things to omit as a pastor is leaving the church bubble. A pastor of any size church can fill years of service with just church members. One of the easiest solutions is to hang out with church members who are willing to introduce you to their unsaved and unchurched friends at a ballgame, dinner, or the park.

Balancing the second greatest commandment: We are called to love others as much as ourselves. If all a pastor does is hole up alone in the study, then the second greatest commandment is out of balance.

Enhancing the ability to make tough decisions: When you know people well, you understand how to make difficult decisions that will affect them. When people know you well, they are more willing to let you make those decisions.

Giving people the correct perception of who you really are: You’re probably just a normal person who got called into ministry. People need to see that. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they had an entirely different perception of who I really am until they hung out with me.

Having fun: Really, it’s ok to say yes to a church member who wants to take you out on the boat, or give you tickets to the game, or make your family dinner. People are a lot of fun, so have a good time with them!

Sam S. Rainer III is the president of Rainer Research and senior pastor of First Baptist Church Murray, Murray, KY. [] []


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