Bryan Mowrey is the Lead Pastor of Jubilee Church in Saint Louis, Missouri — a position he has held, by God’s grace, for just over a decade. Here are some of the biggest leadership lessons he has learned along the way. You can read the first 5 lessons by clicking here.
6. People need “two-parent” leaders.
When I first started leading as a pastor, I was very excited to play the part of visionary, leader, preacher, builder, etc. I thought that if I just made the future compelling enough — and the path to that future clear enough — people would jump on board by the hundreds, if not thousands. That’s just thinking like a one parent leader — one who instructs, challenges and corrects, but that’s not the whole package. A few years ago, a friend showed me 1 Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul states that he didn’t come to Thessalonians as simply a challenger of truth, but also as a nursing mother. Paul understood that people need both. After 10 years, I’m beginning to understand that as well.
7. Diversity is harder than it sounds, but so worth it.
When our church first aspired to be a diverse church, I thought “piece of cake.” After all, that’s what people want, right? They want tolerance and new ideas and progress. But that’s only true in theory. At the end of the day, we all gravitate toward people who are like us . . . the same color, age, political party, philosophy of life, economic bracket and the same education level. I also have found that church life is simpler and it grows faster if we are all the same. It’s why less than 2% of churches are defined as multi-ethnic, which is generously defined as having no more than 80% of one race. Homogeneous church life is easier but it’s not nearly as rich or reflective of the gospel.
With that said, however, I am so proud of our elders and church members who have applied the gospel in this area and have not allowed differences to divide us, but trusted in his blood to unite us. We are now, by God’s grace, technically a multi-ethnic church. We have made some progress, but we have so much further to go. It’s a difficult road that requires us to live consistently outside our comfort zone and lots of self-examination (I have found some ugly stuff in me over the years), but the payoff is huge. It’s a such a joy to experience what’s holding us together isn’t our hobbies, our race, our stage of life, or political party, but it the Holy Spirit of God who is creating for himself a new community.
8. People need more of God and not more of me.
Our mission statement is to “connect people to Jesus resulting in God-honoring life change.” If I’m being honest, though, I’ve subtly thought what people need is more of me. If I preach the right sermon, create the right program and offer the right counsel, then people will experience the life change they need. I’m thankful for our mission statement because it’s a reminder to me that I am not the one who produces life change . . . that is the role of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I get to be the conduit of that life change, but I am not the cause of it. When I am living in the freedom and joy of this truth, I don’t overwork, I am less anxious, and people get what they actually need: more of God.
9. Choosing God-pleasing over people-pleasing is costly but worth it.
Rarely will a leader ever get 100% consensus if they lead strongly in a direction regardless of the size of the group. I’ve noticed over the past 10 years, my eldership team has been in situations where we have lead strongly based on biblical conviction or clear direction from God at the expense of stepping on some toes. Those times are never fun, but 100% necessary. In those times, I am reminded of Proverbs 29:25: “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” In Exodus 32, Aaron let go his convictions and fell into consensus and brought great harm on himself and the people. People pleasing is the path of least resistance but is wrought with pain. My hope is to grow in gentleness in these situations as well as strength.
10. Little things matter.
Whoever said, “Don’t sweat the small stuff” was never a pastor. Intuitively I would have thought that would make the biggest impact to people is preaching great sermons or accomplishing big projects. However, what seems to make the biggest impact to people is the notes I’ve written thanking a volunteer, it’s remembering the name of a new person or the time I listened to someone hurting and didn’t interrupt with my “great” advice. Little things do matter.
It’s been a huge honor to be the lead pastor of Jubilee these past ten years. I’ve made my share of mistakes along the way, but by God’s grace, I’m learning and growing. I’m praying that the Lord will enable to continue to pastor for many years to come.
This was edited from the original, posted on the Gospel Relevance blog.