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The Limit of a Pastor’s Authority

Responsibility for a job also means the freedom and authority to accomplish the job. otherwise, we are guaranteeing frustration and poor performance.

Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards โ€“ Part 6

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

โ€œExpectations are only valid when they have been mutually agreed upon.โ€ โ€“ Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality

In the previous post we covered the Minimum Expectations boundary. This post will explore the limits of authority, responsibility, and freedom.

In part 2  of this series, I showed how job satisfaction is tied to feeling trusted and free to control how oneโ€™s work is done. This is true for pastors, staff, leaders, and volunteer workers. When we give someone responsibility for a job we must also give them the freedom and authority to accomplish the job. If we donโ€™t, we are guaranteeing their frustration and poor performance. A failure here would be on the supervisor who didnโ€™t grant freedom and authority.

However, because we are human, all freedom comes with limits. The limits of our freedom must be clearly defined or we will move out of responsibility into controlling behavior. No one likes a control freak!

Here are some questions to help you establish the Maximum Limit of Authority boundary:

Calling from God

  • What are the limits on my calling from God?
  • What am I responsible for? Which things belong to God alone?
  • Where does my authority come from to follow this calling?
  • Have others confirmed this calling? How?
  • How am I displaying a humble, servant attitude?

Ministry Responsibilities

  • What is mine alone to determine, decide, create, or plan?
  • Who is required to submit to my authority and in what areas?
  • Who am I required to submit to and in what areas?
  • What do I have NO authority over?
  • What do I have SHARED authority over? With whom do I share this authority? How is this authority shared? How am I responsible to the other parties?
  • What will get me fired for taking too much freedom or authority?
  • If I am unsure about the limits of my freedom, who do I ask or what guidelines do I consult?
  • What is the mutually agreed-upon process for correction?
  • How and when will these boundaries be evaluated and redrawn?


  • Where does our authority come from? How do we know? Do our workers agree?
  • How will we know when we have crossed this boundary?
  • What may we not approach? What belongs to God alone?
  • Are we displaying Christ-like humility?
  • How would we feel if others treated us like this?

Other Boundary Questions

  • Am I being led by love?
  • Have I prayed for holy indifference (wanting only what is Godโ€™s will and being indifferent to everything else)?
  • How will my actions affect others?
  • Can I be trusted with this authority? Do those under my authority agree?
  • Am I making life and work better for the people under my authority? Or am I using them to accomplish my goals?
  • Does this boundary line demonstrate grace?
  • Is this Christ-like?

In the next post, we’ll bring everything together.

Author of ๐‘ป๐’‰๐’† ๐‘พ๐’†๐’‚๐’“๐’š ๐‘ณ๐’†๐’‚๐’…๐’†๐’“โ€™๐’” ๐‘ฎ๐’–๐’Š๐’…๐’† ๐’•๐’ ๐‘ฉ๐’–๐’“๐’๐’๐’–๐’•: ๐‘จ ๐‘ฑ๐’๐’–๐’“๐’๐’†๐’š ๐’‡๐’“๐’๐’Ž ๐‘ฌ๐’™๐’‰๐’‚๐’–๐’”๐’•๐’Š๐’๐’ ๐’•๐’ ๐‘พ๐’‰๐’๐’๐’†๐’๐’†๐’”๐’” Zondervan Reflective, March 28, 2023 | West Michigan Regional Director for Pastor-in-Residence Ministries ( | Co-host of the Hope Renewed podcast | Clergy Coach | Certified PRO-D facilitator | Spiritual director | Graduate of the Soul Care Institute | Provides training in soul care and leadership | Consults for churches and leadership teams | Leads workshops and retreats | Served as an ordained pastor for 18 years | MDiv from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. | Learn more about Sean at

3 comments on “The Limit of a Pastor’s Authority

  1. Pingback: Building Boundaries for Pastors — The Pastor's Soul Center

  2. Pingback: Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards โ€“ Putting It All Together (Part 7) | The Pastor's Soul

  3. Pingback: Boundaries for Pastors and Church Boards โ€“ Minimum Expectations (Part 5) | The Pastor's Soul

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