It’s been a fun ride for me in all of my blog-posts through this month of June. I’ve enjoyed taking some trips down memory lane and remembering different pastors who have influenced or inspired me in different ways. One of the pastors who I haven’t mentioned, who I really appreciated, was Rene Schlaepfer of Twin Lakes Church in Aptos, CA. My naturally tendency is to be a “glass half empty” kind of guy. I have to work hard to be in the present and not five years into the future trying to “take another hill” for Jesus off in the distant future. I can always find ways that things can be better, faster, or more efficient. When I had the privilege of working on staff with Rene there were a couple of things that he taught me.
First, Rene always was boundlessly optimistic. I know that behind closed doors he had dark moments, moments of frustration and even anxiety. But to his staff Rene was always boundlessly optimistic. He was always telling us “these are the best times ever in our ministry,” or “we will look back on this season of ministry and realize these were our ‘golden years.'” His optimism had an uplifting impact on our staff, even for guys like me. Rene taught me, by example, the power of being positive and optimistic even when everything wasn’t going as perfectly as we would like. The second thing Rene did was let leaders do their thing. Many senior leaders get overly involved in micro-managing their team and get in the way rather than out of the way. Not Rene. In my experience, Rene generously allowed his entire staff to dream, explore, and try different things in their ministry. As I look back, I admire and deeply appreciate the many ways he risked letting me experiment, fail, succeed, try new things, and then tinker some more. Sure he asked hard questions, sure he expressed concerns at times, but overall he encouraged me to pursue what God was forming in me to pursue. His generous spirit encouraged me to try things I would not have risked without that kind of support.
In my opinion a good pastor has the ability to be optimistic through the ups and downs of church life, and has the ability to get out of the way so that the people they’re nurturing to be effective in ministry can actually be effective in ministry. Rene, thanks for your optimism and thanks for letting me do what God put in my heart to do. Do any of you have stories about pastors who did this for you?