The greatest lesson I’ve learned from my pastor-mentors

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During my first term of missionary service in the Philippines, I was mostly a learner. There were obvious things to learn such as language, bargaining at the palengke, riding jeepneys, and surviving typhoons. The less obvious things were more difficult. Most of these were cultural matters. I am thankful for Filipino friends who helped me begin to learn these lessons.


When I got more involved in ministry, God gave me a handful of pastor-mentors. These Filipinos taught me deeper lessons. I occasionally talked to them to understand why they did what they did. Two of them taught me the same lesson about leadership. I will now describe it.


The chair of a church council knew the matters that the council should discuss in its upcoming meeting. If there was no clear way forward on an item, he visited the council members one by one. He asked them their thoughts about the matter. If the council was divided on the item, he did not yet put it on the agenda. Instead, he continued visiting the members individually until a united way forward became clear. Only then did he put the item on the agenda. He brought it up during the meeting, proposed a way forward based on the members’ suggestions, and the council approved it.


This method achieved much. It led to solutions that several members of the council had contributed to. It led to solutions that the entire council supported. It strengthened the council’s unity. It eliminated the shame that might have been felt had the matter been debated during the meeting or had a member’s proposal during a meeting been rejected by the others. Although it took more of the chair’s time, it led to better solutions and healthier churches.


Since then, I have used this method and have taught it to others. Of all the lessons I have learned from Filipino pastors, this one has had the greatest impact. I thank God for those who taught it to me.


About the author:

Andy Smith grew up in the United States. He came to faith in Jesus his final year in high school. In college, he was discipled by a handful of fine pastors and felt a call to missions. He has served in the Philippines with OMF International since 1989. He thanks God for his many Filipino pastor-friends.

He is the author of books like Majesty of Jesus and Meaningful Evangelism as well as several Hiyas children’s activity books.