Calling Q & A: Lead Pastor

Categories: Calling & Career Q & A

Pastor Bruce & his wife Lisa enjoying some down-time.

Tell us about your current role as a pastor: What do you do in a typical work week?

I’m the Lead Pastor of Forest Grove Community Church in Saskatoon, SK and have been here for about 18 years. It’s the only pastoral role that I’ve had since leaving my role at CBC in Athletics and Recreation. What I love about my work is the variety of things I get to do in any given week. From preaching and teaching, to leading staff and meetings, discipling individuals, budgets and strategic planning, simple times of Scripture and prayer, to countless other things. Pastoral work is managing the tension between proactive work (that you initiate and plan to do) and reactive work (responding to the people and needs that present themselves).

What’s the best part of your job? What are the biggest challenges?

The best part of my job is getting to tell people how great God really is and to point them to the only one who can truly transform their life. I have the privilege of coming alongside people in discipleship at all stages in life. It can be through pain or death or celebration, it can be with staff or lay leaders or people in the community. My passion is discipleship in the local church and I have the privilege of seeing God work in people’s lives in all circumstances.

I think the hardest part of my work is managing expectations. I have to say ‘no’ to a lot of good things and a lot of good people, all the time. But by doing so, I’m also saying ‘yes’ to the specific things that God has led us to as a church. You can’t do everything, and you can’t be all things to all people, but my ‘people pleasing’ side of me struggles with that. One of my mentors once rightfully said, “nobody expects you to do everything, but they typically expect you to do “their” thing”.

What are some ways your time at Columbia has equipped you for what you’re doing now?

Columbia was an amazing place of growth for me – especially spiritual and leadership growth. I had opportunities to lead and grow in a context that was safe to fail and try things. I am so thankful for the great teachers and leaders that shaped my life at CBC in more ways than they will likely know. It’s where I learned to study Scripture, lead people, preach a sermon, and coach people in sports and in life.

What additional education or training did you pursue after Columbia?

After my BRE in Church Ministries at CBC, I did a Kinesiology degree at TWU and then a MSc at U of Saskatchewan in Sport Management as I was involved in Athletics and Recreation at the time. I have also since then, done numerous seminary classes and other professional development initiatives to continually add to my training in theology and leadership.

How did you find your way into your current role?

That’s way too long a story – but I’ll just say that God had different plans than the sport management path that I had planned for my life. A clear sense of close doors in that field along with a clear sense of call to pastoral ministry led to where I am today.

How does your job connect with your sense of calling/purpose?

I love to lead people and point people to Jesus in a way that is a whole life approach to faith. Pastoring is challenging to separate out work and home life, but it reflects the integrated nature of discipleship.

How can someone tell if pastoral ministry is a good fit for them?

I’ve heard some people say, “only do pastoral ministry if God won’t let you do anything else”. There’s some truth to that, since I never pursued it, in fact ran from it for awhile, but it’s okay to pursue it and want to be a pastor – after all, we need more pastors! But you need to love the local church… deeply… with all its flaws and mess. You also have to be able to have an appropriately thick skin while keeping a soft heart for God and people. Practical leadership skills, time management, ability to lead meetings, work through conflict, etc are all essential. You don’t just ‘do coffee’ with people.

 What advice do you have for our students who are considering becoming pastors?

I’ve always appreciated Paul’s words in Romans 12:1-5 and I think they might be some good advice for pastors. Learn to live your life as a living sacrifice, ready to serve others. Take an honest assessment of your life – both your strengths and weaknesses – and also allow others to hold up the mirror and help you see your blind spots. Don’t think too highly of yourself, nor too lowly of yourself. And always remember that you’re part of a living body and we need each other to be the church – it will help you appreciate people with gifts and personalities different than yours.