As I've determined (through the leadership of the other pastors and Oversight Team) that I need to limit access to me – there are things I've learned along the way that make limited access to me very difficult for me:
- I've determined at this point of my life to only give up three nights a week for church-related meetings. I am doing all I can to be home four nights a week. I am in the final years of parenting teenagers. I want to do it well. It can't be done well without presence.
- I've learned that people expect pastors to work around their schedule. It is interesting to me how often I will give someone a time to meet with me (based on a request) and they ask for a different time (a weeknight or weekend). If they wanted to see the dentist because they needed a root canal – they will go whenever the dentist can see them. They don't say to their dentist, "Can you do the root canal on Tuesday night or Saturday morning instead?" No, they will take the afternoon off of work to "meet" when the dentist is available.
- I've learned that many people won't understand that I'm not available to do what they want me to do. They know I can't meet everyone's expectations, but they believe they are the exception. I've also learned that when I don't meet their expectations, it hurts their feelings.
- I've learned that if someone really wants help – they will meet with anyone I tell them they should meet with. It may stroke my ego that they believe I am the only one who can help them, but it just isn't true and actually shows they may not truly be ready for help.
- I've learned that I must focus on only doing what only I can do, and what others are able to do – I need to let them do. Otherwise, there will continue to be massive demands on my time that I can't meet.
- I've learned that I need to strategically give my time to things that best help our church make more and better disciples. Therefore, I prioritize groups over individuals (more impact). And I prioritize leaders (trickle-down impact). I think all our church leaders (formal and informal leaders) find that they still have very reasonable access to me.
- Finally, I've learned that the reason I need to say "no" more often is so that I can keep doing well what I do best. If I say "yes" to a majority of meetings and emails – I can't keep doing what I do best and what most helps our church make more and better disciples.
So – that is a long explanation (yesterday and today) of the biggest disadvantage of pastoring a larger church, and I don't want it to feel imbalance as if it is a huge burden. I am definitely doing what God wired me to do. I wouldn't want to do anything else. I love going to work everyday, and I can't wait to see what God will continue to do at Northridge Church! God's blessing is totally undeserved, but it is such an exciting, fun ride!