Building Trust As A Pastor, Part 3: Elevating Others And Ministering Touch
This is my third post in a series focused on building trust and credibility as a pastor. What are the keys? What steps need to be taken? How do you as a shepherd and leader earn the right to lead those under your care? Let's continues to explore several trust-building strategies that can help each of us in this area.
Trust-Builder #4: Intentionally elevate others above yourself.
No one wants to follow a pastor who is constantly putting himself at the center and making everything about him. Are your positive sermon illustrations always about yourself? Is your manner of doing things always preferred over the way others would do them? When you speak about other leaders or churches in the community, do you often mention how you could be learning from them, or do you spend more time talking about how they can learn from you? If so, this may be a sign that something is off. This is the opposite of Christ-like leadership. The Lord calls us to decrease so that Christ and others may increase. This is at the heart of loving leadership. And loving leadership is rooted in humility. You see, a humble, mature, godly leader will be excited about elevating others. They will encourage others to take the lead. They will desire to give others the spotlight.
If we want to earn the trust and win the hearts of our people, we must elevate others above ourselves. The question is, will you lead in this way? Do you desire to lead in this way? If not, why? Is it pride? Insecurity? A desire to be noticed and praised? Whatever the heart issues might be, let me encourage you to take these to the Lord. He wants to bring the healing and transformation you need to be the pastor and leader He has called you to be.
Trust-Builder #5: Practice healthy, ministering touch.
“Touch” is a sticky topic, not only in our culture as a whole, but also in our churches. In fact, many people in our day avoid touch altogether out of fear. The sad reality is that many people have distorted God’s gift of touch in order to satisfy sinful desires. This kind of sinful and abusive touch has brought unspeakable pain to countless individuals, both inside and outside the church. It is yet another example of how things are not the way they are supposed to be in this fallen world.
And yet, at the same time, the Lord created us as human beings to both give and receive healthy, loving touch in our relationships with one another. Healthy touch is a primary way we can show care and comfort to others. All you have to do is look at the life and ministry of Jesus to see this is true. Jesus Himself was constantly demonstrating the importance and power of healthy touch, or what you might call “ministering touch.” Whether in placing his hands on the sick and diseased, comforting the bleeding and the unclean, or befriending the happy and healthy, touch was an important part of Jesus’ earthly ministry.
When it comes to our own ministries, the same must be true. Healthy, ministering touch is an important, yet often neglected aspect of effective shepherding in the church. Of course, we must use great discernment in this. There are generational distinctives that affect what touch looks like in a congregation. Moreover, the cultural demographic of a congregation will often shape how a pastor practices ministering touch. For example, if your church is made up primarily of Hispanic brothers and sisters, it may be quite normal on Sunday mornings to see your people greet one another with joyful hugs and perhaps even kisses on the cheek. This is much different than many conservative, traditional Anglo congregations, which can be less warm and less open to physical touch beyond a formal handshake. Again, we must be wise and discerning as we try to navigate this. However, while it may look different from church to church, healthy, ministering touch is not only appropriate, but important to biblical pastoral care.
Regardless of whether or not you are naturally a “touchy” or “huggy” kind of person, when trying to build trust in your church, be mindful of the power of touch. Whether it is through a warm handshake, an appropriate hug, a gentle pat on the back, or holding someone’s hand in prayer, the Lord will use your ministering touch to bring encouragement and comfort to His people. He will also use this display of love in your efforts to build trust and credibility with your congregation.
This post is adapted from Mark Hallock's book, The Priorities of a Shepherd Pastor. Get your copy HERE.