Under his leadership, the church has experienced significant growth and stability. Grace and Peace Magazine asked both pastors to answer a few questions about pastoral leadership before their meeting got started.
Grace & Peace Magazine: What are ways a pastor can develop credibility with their congregations?
Daron Brown: There’s a lot to be said for the credibility that comes with longevity. As a pastor, it’s important to invest and get to know people—just putting your roots down and being part of the fabric of the church and its culture. As you get to know your people, you earn the credibility to lead them forward.
Tony Miller: As pastoral leaders, we deal principally with volunteers, so the integrity of the leader is everything. That takes time to build. It takes time to gain integrity that inspires people to follow you and to embrace what your heart is trying to say.
G&P: As a church grows and develops, pastors often have to re-train themselves to transition into new structures, relationships, and staffing. How has that gone for you?
Brown: That’s been one of my hardest transitions. When I arrived, I was the only pastor—the only staff person. Over the years, as the church has grown, my role, responsibility, and job description have all evolved. I am constantly reading, soaking up resources, and surrounding myself with people who do that well. Listening and watching how leaders lead is one way I develop myself as a team builder. For me, this type of development is a constant work in progress.
Miller: I’ve realized the need to spend one day a week with staff, even if it is only part of my team for three or four hours, and then speak to the rest one at a time to debrief or vent or whatever. It is important to have an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual connection with your staff or ministry team. We’re often running in different directions, so it’s important for me to have a strong relationship with my team, as we move forward and try to go where God’s taking us.
G&P: Share an insight on pastoral leadership that has been significant for you.
MILLER: I’m 48 and have been a pastor for 20 years. So much has changed. When I started, if a pastor believed something was a good plan, a good program, the people would just do it. Lay people today are intelligent, educated, informed, and they’ve been taught to ask questions and not trust authority blindly. The result is leadership that is different today, because our congregations are smarter and wiser, and we have to take more time to process
Rather than be a micromanager or a dictator, I see myself as facilitator.
decisions. Rather than be a micro-manager or a dictator, I see myself as facilitator. I’m trying to pull from my people where they want to go. And when I figure out where they want to go, I become their greatest cheerleader. Understanding this was, for me, a revelation! It changed my ministry and transformed my understanding of leadership.
Now, you can’t be a mush and say, “We’re going to go wherever you want.” I don’t mean to say that, but if your people are not a part of the process, they’re not going to follow your leadership very well. There has to be a blend between where God is, your role as a pastor, and
Many pastors blunder into thinking they’ve got to tell people everything, where to go and what to do. But it doesn’t work that way. We must take time to listen and process what their hearts are really saying.
helping people find out what they want to do in a kind of shared consensus. I think many pastors blunder into thinking they’ve got to tell people everything, where to go and what to do. But it doesn’t work that way. We must take time to listen and process what their hearts are really saying. And, I believe God blesses that.
G&P: What have you learned about handling sensitive or difficult issues as a pastoral leader?
Miller: Every scenario is different. You can never tell how people are going to respond. I’ve had opportunities to attend conflict management seminars and other types of things to help deal with crisis, but it’s very hard to control the outcome yourself. I think if people know who you are as a pastor, what your heart is all about, and that you really do love and care for them, it’s a whole lot easier to deal with a conflict or a crisis—or having to make staff changes. If people know your heart, you’re going to be further down the line. You have to be about people first. Then, whatever it is, the Lord will help you through it.
Brown: Most pastors I know, myself included, are people pleasers. We want everyone to get along, and we want to make everyone happy. And that’s not healthy. I’ve learned over the years, and it’s been a hard lesson, that my job is not always to make everyone happy. Periodically, there are stresses, conflicts, or issues in the church, which can
Many times, when I feel I have to carry the weight, the load of the church on my shoulders, the Lord just reminds me, “Just be faithful to me. This is my church.”
create stress and anxiety for the pastor. Many times, when I feel I have to carry the weight, the load of the church on my shoulders, the Lord just reminds me, “Daron, just be faithful to me. This is my church. It was my church long before you got here, and it’s going to be my church long after you leave. So quit acting like it’s your church.”
Miller: I think what Daron said underscores the importance of maintaining priorities in ministry. Either our priorities are in line, or they’re not. When my priorities are not what God would want, I don’t manage difficult situations well. When I know my biblical and God-given priorities, the Lord provides the wisdom necessary to make it work out—and it works out.
G&P: What insights have contributed to your church’s growth and your ongoing growth and stability as a pastor?
Miller: For me, a groundbreaking truth has been surrounding myself with key prayer partners. For a few years, I worked at just trying to lead, listening to God, and hopefully figuring out what people wanted, and moving in that direction. But the integrity issue, as far as them trusting me, never really happened, until I began to surround myself with key influencers who became my regular prayer partners. Right now, I meet with a group of 12 guys who are my faithful prayer partners. I call them “God’s mighty men.” I paint a picture that they’re holding up the pastor’s arms. I share everything with those mighty men: trials and stresses at home, what’s happening in the church, where the stresses are, where the victories are, what I’m talking about on the board. And the result is they know my heart, they surround me, and lift my arms. They want to see me succeed; hence, followership begins.
Brown: For me, I have to confess a lot of it has been stumbling forward, feeling my way along, particularly with our church’s decision to adopt our local elementary
A parent related one of the most insightful things to have impacted my pastoral ministry. She said, “If you love me, this is good and fine, but if you love my child, you’ve won my heart.”
school as an outreach ministry. One of our parents related one of the most insightful things to have impacted my pastoral ministry. She said, “If you love me, this is good and fine, but if you love my child, you’ve won my heart.” I’ve remembered that. It has prompted our church to adopt the mission to love children and win families to the Lord. We are now known as the church that embraces and disciples children, and this has strongly impacted our growth.
In addition, I’ve sought to uncover the biblical model of pastoral leadership as defined in Ephesians and 1 Peter, and a few other places, which helps define the pastor/ people relationship. Another important thing I’ve done to help my understanding of pastoral leadership is to continually surround myself with great pastoral leaders who are good role models. Soaking up leadership from great pastoral leaders has gone a long way in teaching me what it means to be a pastor.
TONY MILLER is senior pastor of Bradenton, FL, First Church of the Nazarene and DARON BROWN is senior pastor of the Waverly, TN Church of the Nazarene