Types of Pastoral Leadership

I’ve been wondering a great deal about Pastoral leadership lately.  No real reason, I’ve just been analyzing the task a bit for fun.  It probably has to do with being in seminary.  So I’ve recognized that there are, in my estimation, 4 general types of leaders.  I am going to use sports analogies to describe the types.  (This should be interesting considering I don’t watch sports…  So please do not be disgusted by my gross sports inaccuracies before I begin… after I am done, you may feel all the disgust you please towards my sports ineptitude.) Side note: I don’t know where my pastor stands in this list and quite frankly I don’t want to analyze him…  I like the guy…  I think I’d say something about him being a golfer and therefore not on my list, but there you have it.


The first and most common type of leader in churches is the Quarterback.  This man is the star of the show/commander of the ship.  His vision is what matters most, and everyone must be brought in line with it in order to win (which he will usually, though not always, quantify in numbers).  He makes all the decisions and calls all the plays.  Even when he hands the ball off, it is because he has decided to do so.  This type of leader is the one who dispenses orders to the troops.  He takes command and leads his team by being the nature of his role as shot caller.

The strengths of this type of leader are easy to see.  He is usually a powerful personality and has a great deal of charisma.  Often this person articulates a clear vision with a strong since of direction.  People typically follow this man, if his ideas work the first couple times.

The negatives are equally visible.  This type of leader is the super-man leader, seriously, he wears a cape!  He is the type that makes the ministry about his persona and his ability to accomplish goals.  He forces people into molds to suit his ends and has difficulty accepting other strong leaders who do not fit into the mold.  He is the driver, therefore everyone else must be a passenger.

In order to be this kind of leader, one must be articulate, able to persuade, have a clear vision, and enjoy being the guy in front.  Crowds like good quarterbacks



The second type of leader is the point guard.  This is the man who sees himself as a coordinator.  His job is to pass the ball and start the play.  He is not always the key player, but he always starts with the ball.  This leader finds his strength in learning the strength of his team and playing to it.  If there is another member who is a great post, the point guard seeks to articulate that.  If there is a great shooter on the team, the point guard arranges things so that his team mate can make the shot.  He is a utilizer of talents.  (I totally just made up that word, utilizer.)

The strength of this leader is in his team.  He makes others look good.  He is a strong director who calls plays, but trusts his team to make the play.  He knows the strengths and weaknesses of his teammates and as a result, others flourish around him.  He is an encouragement to those who serve with him and is certain to make clear that they serve with him and not beneath or above.

The weakness is that this leader is sometimes overlooked by people who come to watch the game when there is a great shooter on the team.  He is, for all intensive purposes, a background leader who may only touch the ball for a moment.  Although he will touch the ball on every play and his leadership is obvious to those who are on the team, those who are not playing the game may not take him seriously as a leader.  They may even think they can do his job better.  While his team may love him and the Coach may be completely satisfied in him, crowds often want a quarterback.

The secret for this leader is to include as many people as possible on the team and surround yourself with a team you can invest in and make great!  Teams love good point guards.


The third leader is the Pitcher.  For this leader, everything hinges on his actions.  Every decision is laid on his shoulders as the key player.  He has support staff around him that works well when a hit is unavoidable. For this leader, whatever is his key mode of communication is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing.  (I call this a mode of communication, because not all pastors/leaders use sermons/lectures.)  He views this opportunity as the most critical teaching moment of the week/month/year.  And his team is prepared behind him.  This leader finds strength in “strike outs!”  What I mean is, he finds strength in a measurable form of success.  He is going to count the number of readers, baptisms, commentors, conversions, complements, etc…  This type of leader views every other activity as back up for his communication.  He is a gifted communicator, in whatever medium he has chosen, and every one else is there to pick up the slack if things go wrong.  This leader is strong and independent.  He is capable of doing almost everything by himself and only needs support when his pitch is hit back.

The positives for this type of leader are that He can make the strike out!  He is talented.  Everyone focuses on him and watches closely hoping that they will not have to spring into action.  But it’s ok, because the team is united behind him and his pitching.  This leader has the support of those at his back: that is, assuming he is able to communicate the vision.

The negatives are that everything depends on his pitch.  As a result, he is framed as the success or failure of the team.  If the team is winning, he is on top of the world, but if the team is loosing, the team might quit on him… because it all hinges on his pitching.

In order to be this kind of leader one must have a brilliant ability to communicate.  He also needs to be very well organized so that he can strategically pitch the message in whatever format he chooses.  Ball clubs (people who own the team) love good pitchers.


The fourth is the soccer midfielder.  Good soccer midfielders control the pace of the game.  They are acutely aware of others who are around them and acutely aware of where others are going.  Midfielders lead by hustle.  They don’t always have to touch the ball, but they do their role well.  They recognize themselves as role players and strive to perform with the team’s well being in mind.  A good midfielder will be noticed only because of their commanding presence.  They don’t need to be flashy or do anything remarkable to have that presence, they simply have it.  They will outrun everyone else, outwork everyone else, and everyone will look to them because of it.  When there is need to slow down so that your team is not exhausted, the midfielder will slow the pace.  When there is need to push, the midfielder will push.  This type of leader leads by solidly focusing on the mission at hand.  Thus, the pace he sets for the team is determined by the goal.

The strength of this kind of leader is in his work ethic.  He will almost destroy himself for the sake of the mission!  Further, the team will work WITH instead of BEHIND this leader, they are not support… they (collectively) are the team.  He cannot play the game by himself and needs the team in every aspect of the game.  Therefore, there is a lot of community buy-in with this kind of leader.

The negatives are that he will inevitably go unnoticed.  Some may even wonder what he does all week.  Unlike the point guard, this leader will not always touch the ball and therefore, may not be seen as a leader at all by the crowd.  While he may work tremendously hard, he is not usually the one making the shots.

In order to be this kind of leader, the person must be disciplined and focused.  He cannot waver his attention to the stands and he cannot lose site of the ball.  He must be aware of the talents of those around him and be able to sense whether or not to push.  He must be able to not touch the ball and yet still be a presence.  Coaches love good midfielders.


So that’s that…  feel free to offer your observations below.

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