Differences Make a Difference: Types of Pastoral Leadership -- By: Donna M. Forrester

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 09:1 (Fall 1991)
Article: Differences Make a Difference: Types of Pastoral Leadership
Author: Donna M. Forrester

Differences Make a Difference:
Types of Pastoral Leadership

Donna M. Forrester, D. Min.

Minister of Pastoral Care and Counseling,
First Baptist Church, Greenville, South Carolina

In my tenure as Chaplain at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, I had the privilege of observing and sharing the journey with ministers who were doing initial or advanced preparation for pastoral leadership. Those years were a holy time for me as so many of the students allowed me into the inner sanctum of their lives as they struggled with becoming the persons and the ministers God called them to be. During that venture, two very important factors became apparent in understanding, and assessing pastoral leadership. The first factor is the need to discover, understand and celebrate the uniqueness of each individual pastor. The second is the need to assess, understand, and celebrate the collective and corporate uniqueness of a congregation that calls a particular minister or ministers to be its leader(s). To focus on one of these factors without paying close attention to the other is most often disappointment or disillusionment waiting to happen.

Any valid journey to understanding how people lead, follow, or behave in relationship to other people must begin with a journey inward. Self-examination is the crucial first step in this process. To bypass or downplay the significance of self-examination and understanding is a sure sign of blind tendencies and painful insecurities. The common-sense version of that story is that the only person in the whole world that I can change is me. I can model what I consider to be healthy behavior and invite others to grow and change, but I am powerless over their behavior. The only person’s behavior that I have any control over is my own. Therefore, I had better know myself fairly well if I plan on letting God use me in a place of leadership in the church. Inward ignorance is inexcusable in pastoral leadership. It has contributed to countless failures in the relationships between churches and their leaders and to the “professional suicide” of so many of our otherwise competent pastors.

There are many ways to explore our individual personalities and to grow toward our own potential as pastoral leaders. Support groups, mentoring, career assessment, counseling/pastoral psychotherapy, and advanced course work in spiritual formation and personality development are a few of the many ways that pastors can begin the life-long journey of self-understanding. One of the most helpful tools around today for understanding and celebrating uniqueness and personality differences is the Myers- Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI).

The MBTI, when used properly, is a non-threatening, fun, and deeply insightful tool that helps ...

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