I think The Rock has to be one of the greatest actors of our time. Ever since his lead role in the movie, The Tooth Fairy, to his latest roles in movies like San Andreas, Fast and Furious, and Jumanji, Duane Johnson is a true movie star!
But more than a movie start, I think that The Rock is a great model for pastoral leadership.
I am not talking about his beautiful skin, gigantic muscles, incredible style, or perfect teeth. Those are all important when it comes to pastoral leadership, but they are not what I am talking about. What i am talking about is the two things that Duane Johnson brings to the table that we need to lead well, broad shoulders and a soft heart.
Broad shoulders and a soft heart have been the two things that have been on the top of my list for ways I want and need God to grow and develop me.
It seems like the higher I move up in the org chart, or the more complex the ministry I lead is, the more opportunity for conflict and disappointment. And this is usually directed toward me. In my natural state, it is easy to get defensive and protect my rights. But in the long run, that posture ends up burning bridges and creating an unsafe environment.
In order to be the leader that God is calling me to be, and maybe you as well, is to be a leader with broad shoulders. A leader that can take on the weight and burdens in a way that doesn’t crush you. If you have ever been backpacking you know that hiking is one thing, adding some weight is an entirely different experience.
As a ministry leader, I think we are called to take on the weights and burdens of those we serve. To not unload this weight inappropriately through gossip or criticism, but to, as a spiritual discipline walk faithfully keeping our mouth and heart in check. This is the maturing work that is proving to be more difficult than I thought it would be, but the difficult work that Jesus invites us into as we bear with one another, as we serve one another, and as we share in the sufferings, the slights, and the challenging interactions of serving those whom God has put in our path.
Because this is hard work, and because gossip and criticizing others isn’t the right outlet for the challenge of ministry leadership, we must make sure that as our packs get heavy, our heart does not grow calloused. It is so easy for me to get discouraged, bitter, and self-righteous. But these are ministry killers!
The only way through this that I have found is by having a conscious dependence upon the Holy Spirit. Jesus has to meet me in my challenges and my tired back from the burdens of ministry. Jesus has to keep my heart soft. Soft toward him, soft toward the church in general, and soft toward the church in particular. This is the hard spiritual work that we are called to and must make the space in our lives to do this work or we are short for this gig.
I remember the passion and love I had for Jesus in my youth and my desire to serve him wherever he called me to go. But as I have grown, so has the ministry God has entrusted to me. And I must make sure my character and spiritual depth are up for this new season.
I never want to white knuckle ministry.
I want to be strongly equipped for the things God has called me to do. To have the maturity, the competencies, the wisdom and strength to carry this increasingly heavy backpack. And to find joy in the hard work of ministry and challenges that God invites me into.
I also want to make sure my heart does not grow calloused. That God would cut away the scar tissue that so easily grows when we give our heart so freely away to people in ministry who could care less and squash it. Jesus, repair my heart, grow my heart, and may my love for you, the big church, and my local church.
And may all of us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and play the long game, for his purposes, and for his glory!