“Shadow Pastor”—Have you ever been one?
A “shadow pastor” is a pastor who “borrows” the model for ministry from a better-known, and more-successful pastor.
How does this work?
We read a book, attend a workshop, buy a DVD course, listen to a podcast, or attend a mega-church conference—sponsored by or led by an “idol/ideal” pastor.
I’ve been a shadow pastor at times. During different seasons of ministry, I’ve been in the shadow of Robert Schuller, John Ed Mathison, Bill Hybels, Fred Craddock—even Rick Warren, and Adam Hamilton.
Shadow pastors learn, then try methods and dream dreams that parallel the ministries of their “idol/ideal” pastors.
While learning is good–and I’ve learned from all of these–shadowing them does not produce the most effective ministry for me. Shadow pastors are moving in the right direction, but have yet to clearly identify our own callings and methods of ministry.
Shadow pastors sometimes choose shadow careers. They work to stay close to their ministry idols, learning from them, and comparing themselves to their idols. Sometimes shadow pastors judge themselves harshly, and create a path to lower self-esteem. They live with this phrase, “If only I could be/lead/preach like…”
I had a breakthrough, which you may possibly have experienced as well. The first breakthrough was the discovery of my spiritual gifts. Through a simple assessment, and some basic teaching, I began to leave the shadows. Oh my! God had given me a calling and vision for ministry that was tied to my giftedness—not to the giftedness of some other pastor.
It’s easy to read a book about successful ministry and judge myself. It’s easy to attend a conference and judge myself.
Join me in remembering that God knew who we were and who we might become when we were called. Our uniqueness is not to be lived in the shadows.
How do you leave the shadows?
(I don’t suggest you quit your reading and quit your conferences.)
- Focus on the flock that God has given to you at this time and in this place.
- Remember that your “idol pastor” is not perfect, though they are successful.
- Take a spiritual gifts assessment and/or a Myers-Briggs or DiSC profile to help you clarify who you are and how you can be effective in ministry out of the shadows.
- Suddenly—or slowly, live closer to the edge of the shadows until the Spirit has given you some clarity.
- Find a coach or mentor who can assist you in moving out of the shadows.
I would be honored to be of assistance to you in the process. Give me a call to see what might work for you.
I invite you to visit my web site to check me out:
- Strategic Planning for the next three years
- Political Savvy
- Generosity Systems
- Special Appeals
- Year-round stewardship
- End-of year drive
Consultant to Congregations—Coach to Pastors