I was always told that being a pastor was much more than teaching and preaching. You need to have a diverse skillset. I used to think you had to be a polymath.
A polymath is someone who has extensive knowledge in a variety of different areas. If you are going to pastor a church, you have to know more than just Scripture and theology. You need to be skilled in finances, in connecting with people, in leading a team, in vision casting, in conflict resolution and much more.
Sure, you need to have an understanding of eschatology, but you also need to know how to create a budget (and stick to it!). Yeah, you need to invite the congregation around the Table and help them understand the importance of the Eucharist, but you also need to be able to lead your church through a multi-year building project. You may have taken multiple classes in systematic theology in college, but how will that help you to lead a staff meeting, a board meeting, and a finance committee meeting all in the same week?
This is what I used to think: If you want to lead a church…you need to be a polymath. You need to be an expert in everything. It’s part of the job description. Plain and simple.
And let me tell you, that’s a hefty calling. Entering into the pastorate knowing that you need skills beyond your passion for preaching and love of Scripture can make you feel unqualified and undereducated. You may feel like an imposter.
Maybe I don’t have what it takes to do this. I don’t have enough wisdom. I don’t have enough knowledge. I’m a fraud.
Maybe that’s just me. But maybe it’s you too.
So, let me give my fellow frauds some friendly advice. This is a word that the Lord showed me just a few weeks ago, and I’ve been clinging to it ever since.
From Proverbs 20:5 (NASB). Here it is:
A plan in the heart of a person is like deep water,
But a person of understanding draws it out.
As the leader of our churches, we are supposed to be the pastor with a plan! One of our main duties is always having a plan rooted in our heart that was prayerfully planted there by God. Where is God taking our church? What’s the next step? Where is He calling us? Who is He calling us to?
But here’s what the writer of Proverbs says: Being a pastor with a plan isn’t enough…it’s going to take a person of understanding to draw the plan out and see it come to life.
And this is where our polymath problem comes in. Many times, though we feel like we have to be experts in everything, there are always going to be blind spots in our understanding. So often, we have the plan, but we lack the wisdom it takes to see our plan come to life.
I may have a plan for a vast building project, but I lack the understanding of construction and architecture it requires to draw that plan out. I may have a plan to reach a sect in my community that no one else is reaching, but I lack the knowledge of the culture and the resources to do any good.
Even though God has dug a well in my heart, the well remains untapped.
As pastors, we can dig wells, easy. Plans are a dime-a-dozen. But it’s a lot harder to draw the water out.
And so we blame ourselves. We think, if I just had more understanding, more wisdom, more knowledge! If I just had more skills in more areas. As a lead pastor, I’m supposed to be a polymath. I’m supposed to know all of these things! And yet I’m failing. I don’t know enough. I don’t have what it takes!
We grow discouraged and stressed because we are never able to see our plans come to pass. Our buckets remain empty and soon all of our wells run dry.
Now for the good news.
Here’s what I’ve learned: As a pastor, you do not need to be a polymath. Can you hear me in the back?
You don’t need to know everything. Sure, you need to know the finances of your church and you need to know how to run the meetings, and you need to be up to date on the status of your building project…but you will never have ALL of the knowledge you need to draw from the wells that God has planted in your heart. You’ll never have enough understanding. You’ll never be wise in all areas.
But instead, here’s how God often works:
Though God may plant a plan in one person’s heart, it may take someone else to draw it out.
All too often, we think that the person described in Proverbs 20:5 is one person. The person with the plan in their heart needs to have enough understanding to draw it out!
But that’s rarely the case.
Instead, in God’s Church, often the person with the plan isn’t always the person with the greatest understanding. Though God may give a pastor a vision, it may be far, far beyond their understanding to bring it to fruition.
You may have a plan, but it’s going to take someone else–someone of understanding–to grab a bucket and help you draw it out. It was once said, “Everyone is an expert in something.” You may not be the expert, but someone is! And they have a bucket and are ready to draw the water out of your dream well.
One of the joys of being a pastor is being surrounded by a team of Bucket Carriers and Well Diggers. There are people in your congregation who have understanding in areas you don’t, and they are ready and willing to grab a bucket to see God’s plan carried out. But you also have dreamers and Well Diggers who are sensitive to the Lord’s guidance and always have a plan. We all have a part to play.
Pastor, you don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to be a polymath. You’re called to humility and service. If you don’t have the understanding it takes to see God’s plan come to pass, He is always faithful in placing a “person of understanding” nearby to draw it out. As a pastor, it’s your job to find that person and hand them a bucket. Your job is to show the Well Diggers and the Bucket Carriers that they all have a part to play.
God wants to use us all. In some, he digs a well of dreams. To others, he hands a bucket. And well after well, bucket after bucket, His Kingdom comes.