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Freedom and Job Satisfaction for Pastors

As long as we live within our boundaries we are free to do whatever we want. . . Boundaries give us the keys to perform at our best.

Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards – Part 2

Sean Nemecek

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4|Part 5 | Part 6|Part 7

In my previous post, I shared the four boundary lines that every pastor and church board must establish. These lines help the pastor work with freedom and responsibility. They also keep the church board from hindering the pastor’s work through micro-managing or unrealistic expectations. The four boundaries that must be mutually agreed upon are:

  1. Relationship with God and Self – What do I need to do to make sure I am properly relating to God and to myself ?
  2. Relationships with Others – What do I need to do to maintain healthy, respectful, and encouraging relationships with others?
  3. Minimum Expectations – What are the minimum expectations that I must meet in order to continue in this ministry?
  4. Maximum Limit of Authority – Where does my authority end?
Relationships and Responsibilities form our boundaries.

If we were to plot these as a rectangle or field, the horizontal axis represents relational boundaries while the vertical axis represents the boundaries of ministry responsibility. In an elder-led church, the relational boundaries would be largely the same among all the elders and the pastor. In a pastor/deacon-led church, there will likely be some differences since deacons are not biblically charged with the oversight of the church. The boundaries of ministry responsibility will vary from person to person based on the person and his or her area of ministry (more on this in upcoming posts).

Here’s the key – as long as we live within the boundaries we are free to do whatever we want. Rather than having a one-size-fits-all job description (which really fits no one), this allows for differences in personality, holy passions, and calling. An example is, allowing a gifted preacher to minister differently than a gifted counselor. Or giving extroverts the freedom to be with the crowd and introverts the freedom to withdraw. Freedom and trust are two of the most important factors in developing relationships that lead to job satisfaction. Boundaries give us the keys to perform at our best.

Consider this summary of the 10 Psychological Job Satisfaction Factors that Really Matter. Notice how many of them are related to trust and freedom:

  1. Achievement – Feeling like we are making a contribution.
  2. Feedback – Henry Cloud says, ““When you encourage someone, it literally changes their brain chemistry to be able to perform… sends fuel to the brain.”
  3. Control – Autonomy and control are necessary for people to feel satisfaction in their work. No one wants to be a robot or a slave.
  4. Small daily hassles – Having too many senseless daily tasks causes a person to feel trapped.
  5. Organizational support – People want to know that their employer cares about them.
  6. Recognition – Failure to recognize accomplishments will crush the soul of a worker.
  7. Physical work environment – No one wants to work in a dungeon or in complete isolation.
  8. Flexibility – Creative people work best when they can choose their own schedule.
  9. Relationship to supervisor – Trust and support are key to good relationships.
  10. Work-life balance – Everyone needs to distance themselves from their work when they are off.

Look back over the list and ask yourself, “Does my church provide these things for my pastor?” If the answer to any one of them is “no”, there are boundary violations that are hurting or possibly destroying relationships.

In the next post, we will look more closely at Relationship with God and Self.

Takeaways

For Churches –

  • Which of the ten in the list above does your church fail at? Would your pastor agree? (Feel free to ask them.)
  • Is your pastor’s job description shaped to give them the maximum freedom to use their gifts, passions, and calling? Or is the job description about limiting and controlling your pastor?
  • When was the last time you gave your pastor recognition, support, or positive feedback?

For Pastors and Their Families –

  • Have you spoken up about the areas of your job that feel limiting or keep you from fulfilling your calling? How can you make the board aware of these limits in a respectful manner?
  • Do you have clear separation of your work and home? What is one thing you can do to improve this? (Ask your spouse if you are unsure.)
  • If you have a staff, how are you providing the things in the list for your staff? How can you provide these things for your volunteer leaders?

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