According to the records we have in the book of Acts, nobody had better single day evangelistic event than Peter. According to Acts 2, 3,000 people were baptized and their numbers continued to grow daily. In pastoral, and literal, terms, he was a a”big fisherman.” Peter was a big vision type of leader, declaring Joel 2:28-32 to be happening as he spoke. With that resume builder, one might think that Peter would continue to be the driving force through the Acts narrative, but instead it transitions to Paul.
Like Peter, Paul is definitely a fisher of men, not ashamed to preach the good news of Jesus Christ, and a man of vision and faith, but Paul is also very different. Paul was not a disciple of Jesus before the resurrection, has a high education, and is a Roman citizen. God called Peter to other cultures, but Paul simply was cross-cultural (and Timothy even more so). God could have used Peter to plant churches, reach the Gentiles, write most of the New Testament books, and get the good news of Jesus Christ all the way to the house of the emperor, but it seems Paul’s life had prepared him more for that next phase of the Church. Paul also had a big vision for the Church, but he had a more tactical implementation than Peter.
Timothy was a leader of the third phase. He took what Paul started and gave it stable leadership and guidance. Paul planted, while Timothy tended the growth. Timothy was an operational leader, yet still a “senior pastor” in local churches. All three of these leaders had vision, faith, and worked hard, but lead churches in different way and seasons of life.
These are just some musings I had last night, so I am not ready to write a book and say that this is the biblical model for church leadership, but I think it may have some merit. While I think any solo, senior, or lead pastor should have vision and lead as a servant, I wonder if a church, when looking for a new pastor, or a pastor working with the same church long-term1, could consider where they are in a church life-cycle, and based on that, cycle their emphasis through strategic leading to tactical leading to operational leading (then back to strategic2 to start over again), would that keep the church growing and renewed in vision? Of course good strategic leaders will recognize when to set a new vision and have tactical and operational leaders working with them, but with most churches being around 100 people or less, and traditionally churches getting new pastors every 3-4 years, I just thought I would toss this out into the blogosphere for debate.
Do you think this would work in the life of a church? Do you see yourself more as a Peter, Paul, or Timothy?
1. It could be argued that one person could not effectively function in all these leadership types, but Jesus was certainly strategic, tactical, and operational at different times.
2. The Journal of Ecology and Society suggests the cycle of strategic->tactical->operational->tactical then repeating.
©2012 Paul Tillman