Pastor/Leader or Preacher/Boss, Which Are You?


I’m seeing an alarming trend in church leadership today. It seems many senior pastors are choosing to be preacher/bosses as it relates to the staff God has given them oversight of. Instead of doing life alongside a loving, shepherding senior pastor, the staff team is driven hard by an overbearing, success driven, separatist, boss. He prepares for and preaches extravagantly impressive sermons and demands much of his team but seldom interacts with them and when he does everyone in the room realizes they are not considered by him to be his equals or his co-laborers, they are his employees.

There’s a Grand Canyon between a pastor/leader and a preacher/boss.

  • The pastor/leader embraces the role of shepherd even in relation to the staff they lead.
  • The preacher/boss holds firmly to the role of supervisor, superior, the man in charge.
  • The pastor/leader accepts the biblical truth that all are equals with differing spiritual gifts.
  • The preacher/boss elevates himself above the rest holding firmly to an ecclesiastical hierarchy giving himself the authority to lord over the staff when necessary.
  • The pastor/leader trusts his staff were called by God to the roles they fill, are capable of accomplishing the tasks God called them to, and are seldom in need of the senior pastor’s input.
  • The preacher/boss exhibits skepticism concerning the passion and abilities of his staff team so he evaluates often and micro-manages consistently.
  • The pastor/leader opens his door to his staff team when no one else can gain a hearing.
  • The preacher/boss is often “too busy” to meet with a staff member so the staff member is told that what they need to discuss can be discussed during the next staff meeting or during a quick conversation following the staff meeting.
  • The pastor/leader invites the staff team to his home periodically and to hang out together at lunch weekly.
  • The preacher/boss seldom if ever allows the staff team into his personal space.
  • The pastor/leader goes to bed at night thanking God for the brothers and sisters in Christ he gets to serve alongside.
  • The preacher/boss goes to bed at night running through a list of expectations a staff member might not have accomplished.
  • The pastor/leader is slow to dismiss a fellow pastor/staff member seeing the staff member/co-laborer through the difficult seasons of life.
  • The preacher/boss will dismiss a staff member anytime he senses a staff member’s mental state or passion is waning.
  • The pastor/leader sets standards that make it possible to encourage and build up each staff member.
  • The preacher/boss sets standards that keep the staff member from ever feeling they’ve accomplished the work they are doing. I know a church whose evaluation tool is a one to ten scale and five is something like, “you accomplished with excellence the work your job description demanded.”

What amazes me most about this trend is that the theological drift today should be creating just the opposite type of senior pastor. There’s more talk about “the gospel” than I can remember in my 58 years of life. Pastors are using the term “gospel-centered” in relation to everything… except senior pastor and staff relations. I think I know why. Gospel centered church leadership might be described as Jesus style church leadership and Jesus’ style leadership, at the highest levels, will demand that the senior pastor turn from being preacher/boss to being a pastor/leader.


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