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The difference between curious and caring pastors (and why it's better to be caring)

Sam Rainer
Courtesy of Church Answers

Both curious and caring pastors ask about members and staff. Both curious and caring pastors inquire about those who are not acting normally. An illness, family issue, or work-related problem should raise a leader’s level of awareness about a particular individual.

Both the curious leader and the caring leader exhibit good management skills when inquiring about followers experiencing difficulties. All leaders should ask about followers. Ignorance derived from apathy is not only poor leadership, but it’s also how you become a lousy person. So what is the difference between a caring inquiry and a curious inquiry? And why is it better to be caring?

Leaders in large organizations—and leaders in churches over a couple hundred people—cannot possibly care for each individual. The issue is not whether a leader personally invests care in each person but rather the default posture and tone of that leader.

Caring leaders desire to serve followers. Curious leaders desire information about a subordinate. The difference between care and curiosity is service. The caring pastor asks about a struggling staff person to understand how better to serve him. The curious pastor asks about a staff member to understand what work she might not finish. One cares about the individual. The other is concerned about organizational output.

There is a genuine and authentic burden that caring leaders feel for followers. Curious leaders are not necessarily inauthentic, but they simply want to know what is taking place. It’s the difference between “How can I help?” and “Give me information so I can make a decision.”

Caring leaders track follower performance to help them improve. Curious leaders track follower performance to make operational decisions. I believe curiosity is a must-have leadership trait. And all leaders should maintain a high level of curiosity about their organizations. Pastors—even those with long-term tenures—must continue to ask questions. Curiosity drives creativity and informed decisions. Leaders without curiosity rarely learn from failure. Curiosity is important. And most curious leaders do care. But a caring leader, at the core, has a heightened level of concern for each individual.

Good leaders care both for the organization and the individuals in that organization. Even if leaders cannot invest care in each individual, they can still have a default posture of serving. Such is the burden of a caring leader and a caring pastor.

Originally published at Church Answers 

Sam Rainer is president of Church Answers and pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church in Florida. 

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