We have all heard this phrase and have witnessed its appropriate application in various areas, such as in entrepreneurship. However the idea is still counterintuitive.
Let me explain with an analogy. When I was in my teenage years, my father liked to take us to modified tractor pulls. For those of you not familiar with these, they are basically a dragster with multiple engines and mammoth tractor tires on the rear. They run on a dirt strip and drag a sled with weight that moves closer to the tractor as the pair race down the track. Back then, the rear tires were made in such a way that the center of the tire had a greater tread depth than the edges. So after spending a great quantity of money for these tires, drivers would grind down the center area in such a way that the traction was spread evenly over the entire width of the tire. Seems counterintuitive – have less tire, but get more traction.
When I became affiliated with PastorServe, my coach introduced me to the Six Key Roles. The six key roles include the following: Boss, Trainer, Coach, Counselor, Mentor, and Friend. Being a bi-vocational pastor in a rural area, I was skeptical, and my thinking went along these lines: “Do they not understand that I work a full-time job, preach 50-60 sermons a year (including weddings, funerals, etc.), and still have all of the other typical pastoral duties?” I was dismissing the notion of the Six Key Roles because of my perceived time constraints.
However, this summer my family and I were able to spend an evening with some friends that had moved away, and who had mentored us in the past. In the short time we were together all of us felt that the stress load was lightened and that we had a new perspective. More importantly, we felt as if we had more energy and passion to achieve tasks before us. Proverbs 27:17 – “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV), was practically applied that evening and the effects continue.
I began to really ponder this verse and realized that the act of sharpening is similar to my earlier story – the tool works better when you take part of it away. Counterintuitive again, but perfect because our Heavenly Father wills it so. My coach at PastorServe has been working with me to build healthy habits in my personal and professional life. In effect, this is removing a certain amount of the rust in my life and thereby sharpening me. This is a start, but not enough to be excellent.
If you are also bi-vocational, you know that you may be the groundskeeper, janitor, counselor, pastor, prayer-partner and that was just this morning! But let me speak to your heart a second. We do what we do out of love for God and others. And I know each of you yearns to be more effective wherever God has placed you. Pastor, do you need to practice some “less is more”? Who are the people fulfilling the Six Key Roles in your life? Do you need a mentor or a coach or even a friend to help sharpen you? Would you be more effective after getting a different perspective? For me, experience says, “Yes!”
We need others (outside of the church we serve), to shape our perspective, give us energy, challenge us and encourage us to dream larger and achieve more within God’s will. This is especially true for those of us serving in rural areas. Through the wonders of modern technology, your friend, coach or mentor, doesn’t even need to be close geographically for this to be a life-changing
relationship. Reach out; present your skills humbly; let them be sharpened, and become a more excellent pastor and person!
John is the pastor at Kinsley Congregational Church, as well as a teacher at Kinsley Jr/Sr High School. He is still studying to be molded into an excellent leader and pastor. He and his wife Karen have two children – Benjamin and Abigail. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.