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Awareness of Strengths and Weaknesses

Many ministers receive several accolades for their preaching and see people humbly responding to their altar calls, then they assume they have a pastoral call. It is not until they function as a pastor that reality sets in. With a focus on pastoral education, training, and mentoring for ministers, Tom Rath stated, “Without an awareness of your strength, it’s almost impossible for you to lead effectively.” Because awareness and self-assessments are subjective, it is also important and typically meaningful to enlist others in helping to more comprehensively assess those strengths and weaknesses.

Assessing strengths and weaknesses helps one reflect more deeply about the call to ministry. Rath added, “Although less noticeable, another serious problem occurs when people try to lead while having no clue about their natural strengths.” If one lacks self-confidence and temperance, the pastoral role is cumbersome. Everything would appear as an attack against one’s character. One would view the church as an enemy. The church is supposed to show the world how to unconditionally love one another. Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Hence, an awareness of weaknesses is not a means to the end of the pastoral journey; instead, it is a means to recognize ways to improve one’s character, view of the church, and continue to nurture love for oneself and others.

This love does not mean there will not be disagreements or that tough times will not occur; but it does mean that God’s people should not behave unlike Christ when conflict arises. It can be disheartening to see individuals serve in a leadership position and lack people-skills, but this may be a weakness. It can be embarrassing to the body of Christ when leadership does not know how to handle conflict, but that may be a weakness. One of the key lessons Jesus taught His disciples was about conflict: “He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me: but he who rejects me rejects Him who sent me” (Luke 10:16). We have to be reminded as pastors, if we are serving as unto the Lord (Colossians 3:23), the conflict is not with us but with God. Although the effects of the conflict may hurt or wound, we have to ask the Lord to help us not to view it as a personal attack. This is why education, training, and mentoring are crucial in pastoral ministry. They will help the pastor to not only be aware, but also confront and address his leadership strengths and weaknesses.

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