You own it, you love it, it works! Would it be irreverent to thank God for WD40? Good pastors, like the popular lubricant, get things moving—great ones keep them moving!
Ads for WD40 suggest that you shouldn’t just use it when you’re in trouble, but as an effective antidote for the inevitable rustiness of the future.
They promise 5 things—WD40 will stop squeaks, clean and protect, loosen rusted parts, free stuck mechanisms, and drive out moisture.
Most pastors I meet are fairly good at implementing repairs like these in their churches.
They corral dissonant factions into manageable little groups as a means of stopping their often very loud squeaking.
They clean up those programs and policies that no longer seem to work properly and protect those that do.
They search for and rout out corrosive behaviors and attitudes wherever they are found.
They reinvent processes that are stuck and don’t function properly, replacing them with working alternatives.
They do everything within their power to dry out leaking negativism that creeps into perfectly healthy moving parts.
Those are the “good” pastors. The “great” ones do even more.
They are wonderful about generational “deferred maintenance” (the stuff nobody wants to tackle). They go after it. They don’t settle for easy resolution, but find ways to do the tough work of discovery into what caused the disruptions initially.
They don’t just say that they rely on God for His mending wisdom, they mean it. They don’t expect to get all their answers in committee meetings and focus groups—they pray through the day, through the night—then shut up and listen. Pastors who don’t listen never resolve anything.
They are systems oriented and if they’re not good at systems themselves, they look for people who are. They are constantly trying to find resourceful ways of getting things done promptly, using as many lay people as possible. They set up the basic structure, then empower people to run with it.
They accept blame if needs be when things go wrong, but they don’t take blame for things that others have just randomly placed on them. They cut to the chase on discordant issues so that the “machine” can keep running.
They lay down clear rules about communication and negativity. They lead and don’t coddle, they affirm and don’t hesitate to ask for grace from others when they need it. They do this until it is a value that everyone embraces.
They know that one pass may not be enough—maybe even a hundred won’t be enough—they know their job is to lubricate over and over until the squeaking ceases.
I’m an avowed WD40 user (and I’m never without a little duct tape, either) who fancies himself somewhat MacGyver-ish, ready and willing to use the tools at hand when the perfect tools aren’t available. Truly great pastors never throw up their hands and take defeat as a faitaccompli. They challenge, work toward consensus, and make sure things stay lubed and pliant.
Doug Lawrence, internationally recognized speaker, author, and advisor, helps churches assess and improve their skillfulness in creating engaging worship experiences by utilizing his more than 35 years of "deep trench" worship leadership in prominent mainline churches.
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