One of the best questions Jon McIntosh asked me in the interview time at the Acts 29 regional thingy a couple of weeks ago was a follow-up to some rambling I did about "leading with a limp" (pastoral leadership with gospel authenticity), in which he asked, "How do you lead from a place of personal brokenness?"
There's nothing more freeing for pastoral leadership than the gospel. Be in awe of it. Be transformed by it. If you don't know what I'm talking about, consider a different vocation. The gospel is the power of salvation for all who believe, and if you have not experienced personal transformation by it, all your talky talky will just be theoretical advice and dramatic posturing.
But here's what happens in pastoral leadership when you are a gospel-wakened fellow, and on the surface it looks like they don't go together:
1. Humility -- It's not so much that you are humble (although that helps, obviously :-) but that you've been humbled. You've been squashed by the weight of the good news that you're really an idiot and pretty messed up. What's great about Jesus is that he will always shoot us straight. And you can do a world of damage against the prince of the power of the air from this place of low self-estimation. When you realize you don't have the answers, you won't feel compelled to make some up. When you realize you aren't fully capable, you will begin to direct more people to Jesus, who is infinitely capable. When you remind yourself of the gospel daily, you remind yourself that it is not by strength, nor by might, but by His Spirit. Gospel-wakened pastors worry less about buildings, bodies, and budgets. They measure success by faithfulness. They don't worry about popularity or throwing their weight around.
2. Confidence -- Somewhat ironically, what happens to a gospel-wakened pastor who has that gospel humility is that he is now joyously free. He can lead confidently because he knows things aren't up to him, but to God. He knows Jesus will build his church in spite of a pastor's mistakes and missteps. He is thoughtful and conscientious, but he makes decisions confidently because he knows the weight of the world doesn't hinge on himself. God is sovereign. The gospel-wakened pastor frets much less about petty criticism and legalistic slander. Whenever I am tempted to discouragement by nitpicky grapevine chatter about myself, I preach the gospel to myself. And if the chatter is truly nitpicky and not about actual sin I've committed, I throw it on a gospel fire and let it burn. Jesus is king, so everything's good. I won't waste any time on wastes of time. Why? Because it is for freedom that I have been set free and I will no longer return to a yoke of slavery.