When The Pastor’s Name Is Jack: Overcoming The Jack of All Trades Syndrome
Every leader experiences times when the workload is heavy, help is scarce, yet the job still has to be done. The work automatically falls into the leader’s plate and he feels the weight of trying to figure out how to get it all done. He takes off one hat and puts on another. No, his name is not Clark(Clark Kent–Superman), it has now become Jack–the “Jack-of-all-trades.” Pastors are not exempt from this “lot”, but rather find themselves in this scenario quite often. Feeling the weight of the load, many pastors eventually cave in, experience overload, lose their joy of serving, and many times give up ministry altogether. But wait! Before this happens to you, you need to know that it doesn’t have to end this way! There are ways to overcome the “Jack-of-all-trades” Syndrome.
The Jethro Principle
One of the greatest Leadership Lessons in the Bible is known as The Jethro Principle. Take a minute and read Exodus 18:13-24. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, gave Moses some great advice on how to overcome this “Jack” mentality. He basically told him to do seven things. Here they are:
- Pray And Intercede For The People
Vs. 19: “…You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the
disputes to God”
2. Teach Them The Word
Vs. 20: “…then teach them the statutes and the laws”
3. Tell Them Where You Are Going
Vs. 20: “…and make known to them the way in which they are to walk”
4. Tell Them What You Are Going To Do
Vs. 20: “…and the work they are to do.”
5. Choose Some Leaders
Vs. 21: “…you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of
truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them as
6. Build Some Teams
Vs. 21: “…as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.”
7. Let Them Help You
Vs. 22: “…and they will bear the burden with you.”
The idea of choosing leaders and building teams sounds exciting. The whole idea of “working yourself out of a job” and delegating work to others sounds like the answer you’ve been looking for–until you remember that Moses had an unlimited supply of people to draw from and all you have is your family and three others. “So, now what do I do?” Well, let me assure you that I, as a pastor for almost 19 years in the same place, have faced this same dilemma. Here are just a few personal insights from an “Overcoming Jack”
1. Determine Your Greatest Strength: The first thing you must know is yourself. You may be talented in many areas, but God has gifted you in the area in which you have been called. Romans 11:29 says, “…for the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable”. To determine your greatest strength, start by asking yourself these questions:
- What do I do that only I can do?
- What am I doing that someone else could do?
- What am I doing that, if I stopped today, would not matter one way or another?
2. Pray For Leaders: We must not underestimate the power of prayer. God has placed a homing device in the hearts of people and as you pray, God will draw them in. When God sends them, here are some things to remember:
- Don’t judge the people God sends…Love them
- Don’t be surprised who God sends…Help them
- Don’t despise those God sends…Train them
3. Begin Discipling People: If you want to get rid of “Jack’s Hat”, you must do what Jack didn’t do. You have to begin investing your life into other people. It’s called “discipleship”. 2 Timothy 2:2 points this out: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” Here are three important facts about discipleship:
- Discipleship starts with the Pastor (Ephesians 4:11-13)
- Discipleship continues with the Pastor
- Discipleship becomes the lifestyle of the Pastor and the disciple
4. Give Them A Job: People do not have to be perfect to be used by God. They just need to be willing. When I find a willing vessel, I find them something to do. When I give them a job, I know they will be here. And if I can keep them here, the Word of God will transform their life. Giving people a job can be tough for “Jack”, because Jack doesn’t usually like to “let go”. Here are a few reasons “why”:
- Nobody can do the job as good as “Jack”.
- “Jack” likes the attention and the credit.
- “Jack” enjoys the job.
- “Jack” is afraid somebody might do the job better than him.
- “Jack” doesn’t want to let it go.
5. Help Them Build A Team: As a Pastor, your job is to see the big picture and lead your congregation into it. Your main goal in this process is not to just get rid of a job or a task. But, to raise up leaders, that can eventually raise up leaders.
Most Pastors will always struggle in some degree with the “Jack Syndrome”. We want things to be done right and with excellence. However, this is usually an issue of training, or a lack thereof. There are always certain seasons when we have to do everything. But, our goal should be to begin immediately to bring people along side of us to help in carrying the load. God will give you grace to do what you have to do, but He will also send you help, if you are looking for it. Don’t be afraid to use who you’ve got and who God sends. After all Jack, you and me were not perfect when we started either!
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Your Rural Pastor,
Johnny H. Moore