I’ve been thinking a bit lately about triple threat pastors and wondering if they really, truly do exist. By triple threat I’m referring to that phrase most often used in relation to the entertainment industry where if someone can act, sing and dance, they’re considered a triple threat. It also has application in sports and I think that’s where the first usage of the term occurred describing people who are skilled in different areas.
But a triple threat pastor, triple threat leader, as I’m thinking about, would be someone who can preach, someone who can do music well, and then someone who also does the leadership side well. As I’ve mulled over this, I realized that can be split into different categories. There can be the organizational leadership, which includes administrative. There can also be the general leadership. There’s a lot of people are good leaders who are not good administratively, so I know that those can be separated out.
For the sake of argument today let’s triple threat pastor is someone who can speak, someone who can do music well and someone who leads well, which would include the administrative organizational side, too.
Now, I am not by this definition a triple threat, pastor. I can speak and probably my greatest strength when I’m using the most in these days as a transitional pastor is organizational leadership. There was a time once way back in our first church where things got to a place where I was actually involved in leading worship.
Now, that’s more a statement of the desperation of the times than of my skill or giftedness. In fact, I probably should never, ever have stepped into that but in that era of life, I was trying to learn to play guitar and could play with music in front of me. I have no ear whatsoever. But yeah, it’s all that to say, no, I’m not a triple threat in that way.
I’ve known others and have lots of friends who are two out of three as well. There’s some people I know, young pastors who are outstanding speakers and very good with music and the organizational side is a growth area. I knew one musician who was outstanding worship leader and very good in the leadership side, the organizational side included in that. And they’re very, very incredible when a person has that gift makes it was really quite unusual and quite unique and a great asset.
Now, if you believe you are a three out of three, that you can speak and you can do music and you can lead organizationally and administratively really well. First of all, challenge that, because I don’t know if I’ve never met someone who really nails all three, but it’s certainly possible.
But if you are clearly in that category, here’s what I would say. Pick one to focus in on a little bit, because while you may have natural giftedness in those areas and a certain level of competence, even a competence in each of those areas above the average, I don’t think you can excel and master all three.
For me moving from regular pastoring to transitional pastoring has been interesting. In regular pastoring I would’ve said I was a better speaker than leader because I used so much time and effort and energy to developing the preaching side of things. I was an okay leader, but quite a good preacher. Well, switching roles into a transitional situation and really in my understanding of what the church needs.
What the churches need where I go in is some strong organizational leadership and adequate preaching. In fact, I would say that’s true of most churches that we overrate preaching in some ways. Right now I would say I’m doing okay in my preaching. I’ve got lots of sermons in the barrel that I can draw from as resource and preparing messages for where I am. But it’s the organizational side where I’m giving my time and focus on and developing and really doing well.
So while I would naturally say I’m quite high in two the three, I can only really excel, it seems, in one of them at a time. Perhaps in another full-time role, if I went back to a full-time regular pastorate I could do both very well, but certainly not three out of three. Now if you are a two out of three, a double threat versus a triple threat, which I would put myself in that category, the challenge is not to work on the third, the area that you’re weakest in.
The challenge there is to recognize that what you need in that case is a team, you need resources. As some people in the marketing world are fond of saying, it’s about the who, not the how. You don’t need need to figure out how to do it. You need to find who can do it for you and who you need on your team to make that side of things happen.
For instance, if I was in a regular pastor, and even in the case now I’m okay with the speaking, I’m okay with the leading, but I won’t touch the music. In fact, if we ever came in a situation where there’s absolute no music, we would probably use recorded music for Sunday morning worship before I would ever get up there and lead music.
The other part of this is when we look at our giftedness and our competencies. I have learned not to trust those who are omni-competent or people who think they’re good at everything. I think they call that the Dunning Kruger effect. We can have these blindspots where we’re actually incompetent, and in our incompetence somehow we’re so blind and actually think we’re competent in area. If someone thinks they’re really good at everything, they’re probably not that great at most things, and may not be great at anything.
When I’m dealing with someone who presents himself as omni-competent, the guard goes up and I begin to look and try to discern where they’re really actually not that strong. That’s actually a trust issue. People present themselves as omni-competent are generally not trustworthy. They don’t understand what their weaknesses are.
So all that to say, whatever your gift mix is, and whether you’re a triple threat or a double threat or just one strong gift area, ultimately, you need to focus. Ultimately you need to focus and discover what your greatest gifts are and maximize your greatest gifts.
I think every illustration I have on file about a table tennis player from years ago who had no backhand. But as his coach said, his forehand was so strong it just didn’t matter. The fact that he had no backhand was irrelevant.
So find out and discern the areas you’re most gifted at that are needed in your context right now. Maximize that and learn to thrive, because someone who is focused and mastering one area really becomes a threat and really becomes an asset for the cause of Christ.
All the best as you plan your day, and your week and maybe your year ahead. Have an outstanding season. God bless. Press on.