What should be a pastor's motto for his local church ministry?

When I first came to pastor Auburndale Baptist Church and saw a struggling church on its last leg, I began to investigate maybe why it had slowly declined over the course of 4 decades.  As you can imagine I found many answers, but one that particularly intrigue me was how it appeared many of the pastors came, stayed 2-3 years, and left the church worse off than the way they found it.  This, among other reasons, has led to my “motto” for pastoral ministry that I encourage you to adopt in some form:

“Expendable, But Appreciated”

Expendable: I realized that I must pastor this church in such a way that allows this church to both flourish while I’m here and continue to do so once I’m gone (Lord willing, I hope a long time from now).  This requires me to delegate responsibilities, share the pulpit, share my authority (plurality of pastors/elders), raise up and train leaders, train my people to disciple, serve, and minister to one another, and personally take breaks with my family that require my people to step up while I’m gone, to mention a few.  For different reasons, too many pastors want their ministries built around them, yet in doing so we are hurting the next generation in the local church from moving forward after we are gone.  C.J. Mahaney had modeled this incredibly well at Covenant Life Church and should challenge us to do the same. 

…But Appreciated:  Some of you may be thinking, “If I work myself out of a job…then I won’t have one!  Since my full salary package, benefits, and insurance absorb close to a third of our annual budget as a smaller church, it is also a good idea to give reasons for the church to still keep me around.  Unfortunately, some pastors (especially at smaller churches) accomplish this by building the ministry around them to where the church feels helpless if something happened to the pastor.  I prefer my “job security” to be in the form of appreciation for me and my efforts to faithfully care for their souls.  It is the church’s desire to keep me as their pastor year after year out of appreciation for my ministry of the word, friendship, and spiritual care for their souls that creates the dynamic of a local church who will not miss a beat if I, in the providence of God, am hit by a truck tomorrow.

I began applying “this motto” at the very beginning of my pastorate at Auburndale, but it is never too late to begin this work where you are.  Empower biblically qualified people to do the work with you.  Share the responsiblity, authority, and equipping of your people and the ministry you do.  I am confident that you will not only see God work in more fruitful healthy ways, but you will be more “appreciated” by your people for it.

Posted in Training for Ministry
11 comments on “What should be a pastor's motto for his local church ministry?
  1. eve says:

    Hey Brian:

    Thanks for your writings on this blog! I’m obviously not even interested in pastoral ministry but find this blog to be edifying and even illuminating of what happens “behind the scenes” (a term is despise in the church context but could think of no other!) As siblings in Christ who are part of a congregation, all with varying gifts God uses for mutual edification, I actually don’t believe in “behind the scenes” … but I digress.

    The principle of what you write here is fantastic, yet my mind shifted to something that actually isn’t your focus and it would be great if you find the time to respond anyway.

    Isn’t the issue of people in pastoral ministry being concerned about “keeping a job” a issue that should cause local churches to question the idea of having salaried church leaders in the first place? If salaries prompt so many to have (often unbeknownst to them) shifting motives, why do we salary certain offices in the church? I realize that the NT supports congregations providing financial help for those who labor in eldership, though it’s not a command, but (1) does that not simply mean contributions, not preprescribed salaries, and (2) why do we not reexamine how the salary thing works considering that it’s actually difficult to do biblical pastoral ministry (which isn’t caught up in numbers & other things our society considers “success”) free from questionable motives when a salary is at stake? In other words, wouldn’t we as a body want to REMOVE anything (livelihood especially) that would tempt a man to do anything that would undermine tasks associated with authentic biblical church leadership?

    Finally, you mentioned that a third of your church’s budget goes to compensation for you. I appreciate your candor, and I’m sure others do, too. But is there any NT justification for a high percentage of the congregants’ offerings going to compensation versus the percentage that ought go to widows, orphans, practical needs of the Body, etc.?

    Again, thanks for being gracious enough to respond 🙂

    • Brian Croft says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful question. A few short thoughts. Yes, those who see pastoral ministry as nothing more than a job should not be a pastor. It is a calling and one that requires not loving money (1 Tim. 3). That doesn’t mean a church shouldn’t take care of their pastor if they desire for him to spend all his time serving and caring for them. How a specific church determines the pay for certain roles in the church is not clearly prescribed in Scripture, therefore is left to the discretion of that local church and the needs they have. Some pastors/elders are to be compensated more than others so that the ox is not musseled (1 Tim. 5). Though this is good and right, it should never be done to the neglect of widows, orphans, and practical needs of the church. A balance is required depending on the needs of that local church. I hope that helps some. Thanks for writing.

  2. Tom says:

    Looking at this from a critical perspective, I can just see someone of the compensation committee commenting, “Well, if he expects others to do his job for him, he shouldn’t get the salary he expects.”

    Unfortunately, I’ve heard church folks / lay elders share a similar perspective. In other words, they expect the Pastor to do the brunt of the work of the ministry. When it appears he is passing that work off to others, the general attitude becomes, “what are we paying him for?”

    • Brian Croft says:

      Yes, I have heard that also. A good concern. In the midst of this motto, we should never use it as a means of laziness. We should still show to labor hard and relentless in our work and to never ask our folks to do something we have not or would not do ourselves. That credibillity takes time to earn. For example, my first 3 years at the church I cleaned the bathrooms in a rotation with another person. It needed to be done and no one else would step up to do it. I am convinced I countered some serious critics through that time who were tempted to say what you sighted when I would allow someone else to preach one week. In those early years, be wise in what you give up and make sure you are modeling the sacrificial service you are praying that God would give your people.

  3. Aaron says:

    Thank you for these regular posts. Through such regular exhortation, the Lord is fanning flames of passion for pastoral ministry in my heart, and at the same time providing valid biblical and practical channels for those passions. I’ve completed some aspects of training for shepherding others, but I’m not a pastor yet. I’m looking for a way to catalog some of these posts so I can refer to them later, and also tweak some of them so I can still use the principles now.

  4. thanks for this post, I struggle (and perhaps others) as a new and younger pastor of an older, declining “last leg” church, your posts are practical and encouraging

    any comments you have on turn-around, renewal, revival, endurance, etc. are appreciated

  5. Mark Bass says:


    Can you explain how you do this preaching rotation? How you raised up the men, implemented it, etc. I’m in the church I first came to right out of seminary 4 years ago. I would love to do this b/c I’m preaching 48-50 Sundays a year, and I feel like it’s all hanging on me. Even when I’m out for vacation or whatever, I have to call in a man from outside our church to preach.


    • Brian Croft says:

      Good question. 6 months of the year our other pastors preach on Sunday evening. The other 6 months or so are these other men in the church who are testing their preaching gifts. I set up a rotation based on who we want to preach and why, but what I hear from your question is more of, “How do you find those guys to preach in your church?” Look for anyone in your church that appears to have gifts to teach and preach. Start there. Then, work with them to the point that you are willing to give them a chance to preach in a service. You may need to compromise a bit on the quality of preaching, but you have to start somewhere. Just make sure that brother is faithful to the text he is preaching. If you have no one, pray that God would provide or raise up someone in your midst to be a “Timothy.” I hope that helps.

  6. Mike Bennett says:

    Great article. As a young pastor, now a missionary, I see this mindset a lot. It is also a great temptation to try to be everything. Interestingly the reason why Paul was so successful was his focus on training others to do the work. We often get the “Elijah mindset”- I, only I am left. God’s task is so great we cannot accomplish it alone, and if we refuse to train others, we not only hinder our ministry, but the cause of Christ.

4 Pings/Trackbacks for "What should be a pastor's motto for his local church ministry?"
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  4. […] his expendability.  I have been saying for a while now that I want the mantra of my ministry to be “Expendable, but Appreciated.”  If we see ourselves as more expendable every year, then we will be leading, delegating, and […]

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