More than 7 years ago when we started this movement, we called it the Amazing Parish program because we believed that was the key to bringing more people to Jesus in the world. And we still do. But the world has changed considerably since then, and if we were to rename the movement, we might very well call it the Heroic Pastor movement.
See, you can’t have an Amazing Parish, certainly not in the current culture, if the man leading that parish isn’t heroic. What is the definition of a heroic pastor? How about this:
F * (D + C + W) = HP
Although I think it’s already apparent to most of you, I’ll go ahead and define these terms for those who don’t know. That’s a joke.
F stands for faithful, and to be a heroic pastor today, and in any day, you have to put all your faith in Christ, and be faithful to His teachings and the teachings of His Church. All of those teachings. Even the ones that society doesn’t want the Church to teach anymore. Faithful is both belief and fidelity, and a pastor who doesn’t have those qualities cannot be a heroic pastor, and his parish cannot be amazing.
Okay, you’ll notice in the equation that F is multiplied by D and C and W, and that means that if faith isn’t there, and it’s pretty binary, it’s either 0 or 100%, then the rest of the equation amounts to zero. So, belief and fidelity are a must have.
The D stands for discipline. This is the ability of a pastor to stick with commitments and behaviors and actions even in the midst of distractions and changes. Let me say that if I were a pastor, this would be the hardest one for me. Discipline means we will continue to do the simple but unexciting things that make a parish amazing, like having good meetings, holding people accountable, sticking with the daily and weekly prayer regimens that we establish, even when they are inconvenient, and having evangelizing conversations with our staff members and parishioners, even after we’ve done it ten or twenty or one hundred times.
The C stands for courage. This is, ultimately, the willingness to put oneself in the position of suffering for others, for what is true and good and beautiful. A pastor that wants to be always popular with his staff members, with his parishioners, with society, even with some leaders within the Church who might stray from Church teaching, is not going to be a heroic pastor. Pretty much every Saint in the Church faced suffering and unpopularity, many from within the Church itself. They did it for love of the Church, for the members of that Church, and of course, for Jesus. Courage requires suffering.
The W stands for Wisdom. This is the ability to make decisions that are most effective, but without sacrificing the F, the D or the C. What is the right way to go about organizing or planning or deciding or communicating? Now, it’s easy to compromise the F and the D and C under the guise of W. But we can’t do that. We have to be smart, but we must always be true. And God shows us the way.
Now, what about a pastor’s team? Aren’t they important?
Absolutely. But no matter how cohesive and committed and prayerful that team is, if the man who stands in front of them as their leader is not a heroic leader, they cannot accomplish all that God calls them to accomplish. They are looking to you, pastors, to be their example, in Persona Christi. They need to know that you believe and are faithful, that you are doing your best to have discipline, courage and wisdom.
Of course, no pastor is perfect. And that’s where your team comes into play. Depending on your needs, they can fill in gaps for you. They can help you have discipline if that’s what you lack. They can support you to have more courage if that’s what you need. And they can assist you in being wise, if you’re a little short in that category.
What they can’t do, and should never feel required to do, is convince you that Jesus is real and that His teachings must be followed.
So, let’s talk about this, and about how we can best understand what we need to focus on in order to become the heroic leader, the heroic pastor, that your people, the Church, and all of society, including me, need from you.
– Pat Lencioni
Co-Founder I Amazing Parish