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The Ten Hats of a Pastor
By Gary McIntosh
Pastors can, do, and must wear many different hats in their work. Each hat represents a role. Pastors shift roles in a matter of a few minutes. One moment they are directors, the next counselors, and the next managers.
Most experienced pastors realize the demands of ministry require fruitful pastors to wear several hats. In this study, I introduce and define ten hats pastors commonly wear. Then I compare the amount of time each hat is worn by pastors of growing churches and declining churches.
Pastors commonly wear ten different hats:
The Speaker Hat. This may be the most visible hat put on by all pastors. The speaker’s hat is worn every time a pastor preaches, speaks at events, or in some way addresses people. For many people, perhaps most, this is the only hat they ever see the pastor wearing. Because they primarily see pastors in this hat, they tend to judge them by their ability to communicate.
The Captain Hat. Pastors wear the captain’s hat when pointing the church in the right direction. Casting vision for the future cannot be delegated to any other person. Others are invited to sit at the captain’s table to give input and advice.
The Coach Hat. In almost any endeavor the responsibility of the coach is to get others to play the game as well as possible. The pastor’s role is not to play the game as much as to get others to play and to play well! When wearing the coach’s hat, a pastor observes, corrects, explains, questions, encourages, and inspires others to be the best they can be in ministry.
The Executive Hat. As chief executive, the pastor evaluates people, programs, and expenditures. The pastor judges whether the church is reaching its goals and makes the hard calls regarding where to invest or withhold resources. The buck truly stops at the pastor’s desk, and decision-making is a primary role.
The Director Hat. The pastor wears the director’s hat when teaching others to follow Christ and serve Him with their gifts. He disciples others through his own example, teaching, and personal mentoring. It is an essential hat for developing future leaders and might also be called the discipler’s hat.
The Counselor Hat. The counselor’s hat is often the most exhausting to wear. It is worn each time a pastor meets with people seeking help with personal problems and issues. Meetings can be positive, such as premarital counseling, or negative, such as advising a couple seeking divorce.
The Student Hat. The truly successful pastor never graduates but is a perpetual student. By wearing the student’s hat, pastors illustrate leaders are learners. They know they must continually upgrade their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
The Pioneer Hat. The fur cap worn by America’s early pioneers declared a desire to conquer the wilderness. Like pastors who went into the frontier to preach the gospel and plant churches, leading others to share their faith with family, friends, and associates is a key aspect of this hat. The pioneer’s hat demonstrates a willingness to move into new territory through innovation.
The Conductor Hat. The conductor’s hat is worn by a pastor when he works with people of numerous talents, abilities, and skills so they work together in unity, bringing out the best in the church. The pastor orchestrates the body so harmony flows out of action and pitches in to help complete a task or project at key points in time.
The Reporter Hat. Pastors put on the reporter’s hat when they represent the church in the larger community. As churches partner more and more with other churches and non-religious agencies, they become the face of the congregation to the community.
Pastors of growing churches report working 52% longer each week than pastors of declining churches. The pastor’s priority in growing churches is on wearing the speaker’s hat, the captain’s hat and the coach’s hat. In addition, pastors of growing churches report spending twice as much time wearing the pioneer’s hat than do those in declining churches.
About the Writer: Dr. Gary L. McIntosh is professor of Christian Ministry and Leadership at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, where he teaches courses in the field of pastoral theology. He has authored more than a dozen books including Growing God’s Church (2016) and Taking Your Church to the Next Level (2009). For more information, visit The Church Growth Network: www.churchgrowthnetwork.com.
Adapted by permission from a paper presented by Dr. McIntosh at the Great Commission Research Network meeting in Orlando, FL, March 2020. For more on this topic, read Dr. McIntosh’s book The Ten Hats of a Pastor from Baker Publishing, expected to release in March 2021.