Riding a Tiger

Last week I mentioned I was going to use Politics Monday to talk about church politics at times.  Let me repeat a post I have put up in the past about what it means to be a church leader.

Being a pastor is a lot like riding a tiger. You can sit up there and proudly tell yourself you are in control. But you must always remember, job one is don’t get eaten. I am aware this thought can be taken as a negative bit of cynicism, but bear with me while I flesh out some details.

First this analogy will help you to always remember the church is a living and breathing thing. Together you will not make progress unless you and it find some form of cooperation. If you decide to lord your authority over it with a fierce domination, then sooner or later it will show you what fierce is. The fact is you only hold whatever authority over a tiger, which it allows you to have.

Second I want you to be careful how dearly you hold to the idea your church loves you. It might eventually learn to love you, and it might not. But if it does happen, it will take longer than you think. Your church will only love you if they have first learned to respect you. They will only learn to respect you after you have proven they can trust you. Trust is earned, respect is built, but love only comes by the free will of the giver. Even after respect is solidly in place you cannot make them love you. Nor should it be your goal, you are not there to be adored, but to lead them to adore their Savior.

Third I want you to realize, if you get eaten by the tiger, the tiger will also be harmed greatly. Just as a captive animal that kills will have to be put down, the church which has eaten a pastor is always a horrible mess. They dishonor their Lord, do great harm to the kingdom, and become known by their injuries. But it is not their responsibility to prevent eating pastors, it’s the pastor’s job to not get eaten. When the rider blames the tiger he is not doing either of them any good, and when the pastor blames the church he is setting aside his calling to be the leader.

Before I quit, I should acknowledge the many other people who used riding the tiger as a teaching allegory. There are at least two books by this title, a blog and where I first heard it was as a descriptive of what it is like to be president of the United States. So the idea is not original, but very useful.

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