7 Essential Attributes Of Exceptional Executive Pastors

iStock-1336695502Having an excellent Executive Pastor can make or break a church’s health and growth. An Executive Pastor is responsible for many extremely important functions of the church, overseeing all administrative and operational aspects of a church. This includes staffing, finances, strategic planning, daily operations, and ensuring the church is carrying out its vision and mission. Similar to the relationship between a COO and a CEO, an Executive Pastor’s work frees the Senior Pastor to focus on vision, teaching, and shepherding.

At Vanderbloemen, we’ve connected our clients with thousands of high-potential candidates over the years. Our staff has talked to thousands of Executive Pastors and hundreds of churches seeking high-potential executive leaders. We also have several former Executive Pastors on our team. With the team’s combined expertise, we’ve compiled a list of seven characteristics that separate the good Executive Pastors from the great ones.

1. They perfectly complement the Senior Pastor.

The partnership between your Executive and Senior Pastors can be the difference between your ministry getting by or actually thriving. Choose an Executive Pastor who has strengths specifically In areas where the Senior Pastor is weak. The Executive Pastor must be able to name practical steps toward the Senior Pastor’s creative vision.

An Executive Pastor must also be comfortable in the #2 position. An Executive Pastor who wants to be a Senior Pastor is a ticking time bomb on a church staff, and it can lead to a struggle for power.

This trait is so vitally important to the role, that if your Executive Pastor does not effectively partner with the Senior Pastor, you may be better off without an Executive Pastor at all.

2. They have the innate ability to listen well and diffuse energy.

At times, an Executive Pastor will be involved in tense conversations, whether it’s making a decision between opposing opinions, listening to a disgruntled church staff member, or diffusing a congregant who is worked up about something. A great Executive Pastor is able to listen well while also communicating truth with love and compassion. People should leave a conversation with an Executive Pastor with reduced tension, knowing they’ve been heard and understood even if they didn’t get their way.

The church staff members should be able to confidently approach their Executive Pastor with any challenges they’re facing in their role, knowing that they will feel safe to share, be listened to, and receive razor-sharp insight. The church staff relies on the Executive Pastor’s ability to be “wise as serpents and gentle as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

3. They have a strong handle on timing.

An excellent Executive Pastor intuitively knows when it’s the right time to propose a new idea and when it’s time to wait. They have a strong understanding of the Senior Pastor’s vision, the temperature of the congregation, and the pace at which changes need to occur. They don’t tarry on important decisions, but they don’t rush them either. They plan well for the future and are able to anticipate successes, problems, and delays. Discernment about timing requires patience, prayer, and self-control, allowing the Executive Pastor to guide the team toward long-lasting growth.

4. They are solution-oriented.

Putting systems and processes in place – and constantly improving them – comes naturally to a successful Executive Pastor. They can take criticism or challenges, find the kernel of truth, address it, and move on without derailing the team or church. They’re able to evaluate all possibilities and know what to say “yes” to and what to gracefully say “no” to. They are innate problem-solvers and equip their team with the tools needed to implement solutions.

5. They are passionate about developing people.

Every system and process in the church should positively contribute to the development of people. A great Executive Pastor knows this, and they will re-evaluate these systems the moment they hinder the development of people. The Executive Pastor re-considers why the church does what it does, ensuring there is purpose to everything. They should have a strong understanding of the team’s strengths and weaknesses, and they seek to empower and equip individuals accordingly. Their ability to do this maintains a well-oiled machine, where time and money is not wasted on efforts that do not support the church’s mission. They also maximize personal and spiritual growth within the church.

6. They aren’t fazed by much.

Exceptional Executive Pastors have a stabilizing and calming effect on people and situations around them. They have a non-anxious presence and are not easily stressed or moved. The amount of things that land on the Executive Pastor’s desk is enormous, and their ability to manage, prioritize, and delegate tasks quickly and intelligently is critical to the success of the team and the church.

7. They are both big and small thinkers.

Executive Pastors need to understand the large vision and the bigger picture of where their church is going and then turn around and lead the team through the minuscule details of how to make it happen. The ability to think in terms of details while still seeing the big picture and anticipated outcome is a rare, significant skill, and one that excellent Executive Pastors possess in abundance. Having someone with this skill in the Executive Pastor position on your team will mobilize your church to bring your mission and vision to life.

Are you searching for an Executive Pastor with these seven essential attributes? Finding someone who specifically matches with your Senior Pastor and the rest of your team can feel impossible. Vanderbloemen can help match you to highly qualified candidates with the qualities your staff is looking for. Talk to our team today to start your search with Vanderbloemen.