Twice a month our local ministers group holds a prayer breakfast. Several of us take turns cooking. A few weeks ago, it was my turn to cook. That morning I was assigned to cook the pancakes. As I cooked, several pastor friends chided me on being slow to flip the pancakes. According to them, I was leaving the pancakes a little too long, resulting in them being slightly brown.
While involved in this conversation, I thought to myself, “Anybody can tell when it’s time to flip the pancakes.” I was wrong! I was waiting too long to flip the pancakes. My friends were right.
This incident reminded me of two vital truths for those who serve in ministry. First, it is imperative that I listen to and learn from others. There are always people who know more than I do and who have experiential knowledge that I do not possess.
It is human nature to resent those who know more than we do. Pride plugs our ears. However, the wise leader recognizes that God has placed co-workers beside them to enhance their effectiveness. The foolish leader turns a deaf ear to those who can give beneficial advice.
Moses had a problem recognizing the potential in his co-workers. His father-in-law, Jethro, advised him of this poor stewardship. (Ex. 18:1-23) When Moses recognized this shortcoming and took action, it relieved his stress and strengthened his leadership.
The second lesson is accepting the feedback of others. This is important and closely related to this is learning to take criticism from others. There are two types of feedback. First, there is negative feedback. Second, there is positive feedback. Negative feedback tends to tear down. Positive feedback builds up and helps you do better work.
The feedback I received with the pancakes was positive feedback. Paul spoke of the church being the body of Christ. (I Cor. 12) The implication is that the body parts support each other. Each part contributes something that is unique. Each part strengthens the other parts.
As pastors it is natural for us to assume a Messiah complex. We take the role of “leader,” “problem solver,” and the one to whom God gives “the” vision. The problem is that we are only one part of the body. When we overlook the other body parts, we weaken our function. A kidney is no good without a heart, pumping blood to heat. A heart is no good without a lung, pumping it oxygen.
Pastors should be honored and respected! However, as pastors we have a responsibility to honor and respect the other parts of the body. That fact may well be a defining moment in our work with the local church. Pancake advice may be the very thing that propels us to the next level of service and equips other believers to be all that they can be for Christ.