I am life-long member of a small evangelical denomination called the Churches of God, General Conference.  Currently, my regional conference has a adopted a new strategic plan that calls for developing healthy pastors and healthy churches capable of carrying out a Kingdom agenda in the changing culture 21st century America.  This action is grounded in the fact that we are aging denomination with an aging leadership and where growth (in my region) is skewed upward by new church plants and about a dozen missional congregations.  The majority of our churches have declined by almost 20% in the last ten years.

That makes us a microcosm of much of Protestant Christianity in the US in the year 2017.

John Maxwell has been credited with the observation that “everything rises and falls on leadership.”

It is indeed true that without healthy leadership there are not healthy churches.  And the key leader of a church is the pastor.  He may be healthy but is trying to lead a church that is unhealthy; but he is not healthy, his or her toxicity will infect and affect the church.

So how do we know that a pastor is healthy?  Let me suggest several metrics. (Although I use the masculine pronoun, I am speaking of pastors regardless of their gender.)

  1. He loves Jesus with a passion—quietly or boldly—that is unmistakable and authentic leaving no one to doubt that Jesus Christ is His Lord and His source of strength. He does not wear Jesus on his sleeve, but Jesus pours out of his heart.


  1. He loves and cares for his spouse and his family sacrificing for them, nurturing them, protecting them and defending them. He is both intentional and unapologetic about this priority.


  1. He loves His Church and embraces his responsibility to lead, equip, counsel. He does not use the church to build his ego or advance his agenda or as a platform for his preferences or politics. Instead, he seeks to equip his church to carry out their calling from the Lord.


  1. He spends daily time intentionally and unashamedly in prayer and in the Word. He doesn’t simply do this to preach or teach but to grow in His relationship with God.


  1. He understands his gifts and passions and works from them. He has learned to give a sanctified “no” to those demands and desires that would tempt his to sacrifice the best for the good.


  1. He has accountability partners who are invited to be honest with him and whose counsel he embraces.


  1. He has learned to speak the truth in love and does not shrink from it.


  1. He models what he teaches and rejoices when people are no longer dependent on him but learn to trust in the power of the Lord.


  1. He has learned how to take criticism with grace and is committed to resolving conflict. He knows how to forgive and to live at peace among the unforgiving.


  1. He lives by the “John the Baptist” Principle: “I must decrease so they may increase.”

I have not yet spoken about the physical and relational metrics of the pastor’s health.  That will come in a later post, but for now what might you add to this list of metrics?

© 2017 by Stephen L. Dunn. Permission is given to repost or quote provided this copyright notice is included and a link provided to this blogsite.  The courtesy of an email with a link to its reposting or a copy of the work it is quoted in would be appreciated.



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