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Leadership Distinctives

What makes a leader a leader? Even more importantly, what makes a leader worth following? There are several reasons leaders are followed such as position, power, and personality. The lowest level of leadership is being followed only due to the position you hold, but at some point leadership influence must be earned. People may follow you for a period of time, but eventually you will earn or lose the right to be followed. Leadership influence is a lot like trust because it takes a long time to earn but can be lost in a second.

In The 5 Levels of Leadership, John Maxwell describes level one where people follow you because they have to or believe they should because of the position you hold. The second level is permission where they continue to follow because of the relationship they have built with you and have decided they want to follow you. The next level is based on your ability to lead well and they follow because of what you have accomplished through your leadership. Leadership then moves to reproduction because of how the leader has poured into your life and mentored you.

These five levels move from rights (position) to relationships (permission) to results (production) to people development (reproduction) and then on to respect (the pinnacle). This is where people follow you because of who you are and what you represent. The reality is that sometimes the closer we get to some leaders the less we want to follow them because we discover they are not who we thought they were. What a joy it is when the closer you get to a leader the more you desire and want to follow them. Familiarity should breed respect not contempt in leadership.

Distinctive #1 is spirituality. There is a huge difference between leadership and spiritual leadership. Of more importance than your leadership skills, those following you need to be able to see you are walking with God. You should not have to convince people you are walking with Him because it should be apparent to all that you are. Even though leadership can be accomplished by many, spiritual leadership only occurs by those who are walking closely and intimately with the Lord. Manipulation will not be necessary when the Holy Spirit is present.

Distinctive #2 is prayer. For emphasis sake and because it is so vital to the leader’s effectiveness allow me to quote again from Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby speaking on the importance of prayer in their lives. “For leaders to have this kind of relationship available to them and then choose to not communicate with the One who wants to guide them is a gross dereliction of duty.” Prayer reminds us of who is really in charge and gives us a confidence that He is able to do above and beyond all we could ever ask or think.

Distinctive #3 is a great work ethic. Leaders are not lazy and they are not afraid of hard work. They lead by example and have a servant’s heart meaning they are willing to do what others are unwilling to do. The Blackabys ask this, “If the people in my organization worked with the same intensity as I do, would they enhance the operations of this organization or would they reduce it to a crawl?” If the goal of your leadership is respect then you should not see your position as an escape from sacrifice but as platform to demonstrate what sacrifice looks like.

Jesus set the example here by washing the disciples’ feet but some leaders act more like they seek privilege and entitlement. Maybe you should not have to do a particular task but you should always be willing. Remember, the greatest way to influence others is by example. If we want those who follow us to go an extra mile Jesus said we must be willing to go two. It cannot be “do as I say” but rather “do as I do” and our actions back it up. Church leaders we need to work hard at showing our people that we know what it means to work hard.

Distinctive #4 is answering questions before they are even asked. Communicate your vision and how you will carry it our over and over again. One of the greatest lessons I learned was that what I often thought was opposition was simply just individuals who needed more information. We can easily think that because of the journey we have been on that people will automatically fast forward to where the Lord has brought us. Anticipate that there are “late-adopters” who by their nature will need their questions answered before they can move forward.

Distinctive #5 is having good spiritual mentors and counselors. Make sure you check out the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 4:9-16 with verse 10 saying, “For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”   In Proverbs Solomon also tells us that there is wisdom in the multitude of counsel. You do not have to have all the answers as a leader, but you must have the wisdom to seek counsel and listen to other godly leaders. It is not about your agenda or their agenda but getting on God’s agenda.

These distinctives of spiritual leadership are important…but there are more. Leadership is not easy and actually it is very hard work. It can be draining and overwhelming at times so here are a couple of other suggestions. Be sure you do not take yourself too seriously and be able to laugh at yourself. Protect your personal walk with God because the attacks of the devil are real and he especially focuses on those leading the charge against the gates of hell. Lastly in the words of Paul, “I tell every one of you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.”

Are You A Perfectionist?

In J. Oswald Sanders classic book, Spiritual Leadership, he says, “The perfectionist sets goals beyond his reach, then sinks into false guilt when he falls short.” The wisdom of that statement cannot be overstated. Sanders continues, “Our world is imperfect, and we cannot expect the impossible. Setting modest, realistic goals will help a perfectionist move through a problem without discouragement.” Unrealistic expectations can derail your ability to lead!

The problem is that quite often a visionary leader is an idealist. They have the ability to see the preferred future and begin to expect nothing less. A train wreck is about to happen when idealism meets realism head on. The true idealist can be challenged daily because they envision how things will turn out “ideally” and the “reality” is that they never do. We live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people, and we are quite imperfect ourselves, if you did not already know that.

Leadership requires examining any unrealistic expectations you have, or that others may have, at your church and in your ministry. Do not set your goals by the standard of someone else’s church attendance, their facilities, or the amount of impact they appear to be having. Rejoice when other churches are growing and flourishing. There is no room for comparison or competition in churches that desire to honor our Lord. Be faithful to fulfill His calling on your life first and foremost.

In Romans 12:3 Paul says, “For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think.” This is great advice to remain humble and to know our limitations. A great definition of perfection is doing the best you can with what you have. Yes, pursue excellence but be careful to not set the standard so high that no one can live up to that standard. Work hard at evangelism and discipleship while allowing God to set the expectations.

It is easy to confuse “stepping out in faith” with presumption or wishful thinking. In our Church Planting Essentials Training (DCPI) we challenge church planters to be careful about unrealistic expectations. The materials say, “Planting churches is a lot like raising children. Every child is unique. Each one
has its own growth rate, and every child grows to a different size and shape. But parents love each one for who they are. Comparison with other children is unwise and unhealthy.”

How do keep from allowing perfectionism to overwhelm you?

First, be able to laugh at yourself! You have to make sure that you do not take yourself too seriously. A leader does not need to have all the answers, be able to solve every problem, or hit a homerun every time they are called upon. If you cannot bend at all, by having a sense of humor, you might just break under the pressure. When you make a mistake admit you’re not perfect and get a good laugh out of your mistakes.

Second, remain humble and learn to handle criticism. No leader will ever be exempt from criticism and you must accept that it will come. How you handle it will help determine how well you can lead. Spiritual maturity is what enables you to not listen too closely to the applause or to the criticism. It also allows you to consider if maybe there is a kernel of truth in what is being shared. Can you learn from it and is there something about your leadership that needs to change?

Third, you must practice and maintain self-control. You can be right in a decision but wrong in your attitude or how you handle it. The reality is that when we lose control we will lose the ability to influence and lead others. Perfectionism places you in a pressure cooker that will eventually blow its top if you cannot lead calmly during challenging times. Leadership is not easy and is not for wimps but it can be done from a loving and serving heart.

Fourth, value the ideas and opinions of others. Usually when someone questions your leadership it is not because they oppose your direction or decision but they need more information. J. Oswald Sanders asks, “Can you accept opposition to your viewpoint or decision without taking offense? Leaders always face opposition.” It has been said that perfectionists are aware of three ways of leading, “The right way, the wrong way, and my way.” They are not real flexible with the third option. If not careful it becomes, “my way or the highway.”

Fifth, always value people and the importance of strong relationships. We need each other and we truly can accomplish more working together. Love people and value their opinions but you must also be able to press forward even in the face of opposition. Check your motives, seek a multitude of counsel, and then make the decision. Leaders are able to make hard decisions that others are not willing to make but they are often more than willing to give their advice (criticism) when you do.

Lastly, remain focused on the leadership of the Holy Spirit. The only place you can find His direction and discernment is in His presence. He will enable you to know the difference between your non-negotiables and just being hard headed. It can never be about having “your way” just because you are the leader. Our prayer must be what Jesus prayed in the garden, “not my will, but Yours!” And oh, by the way, if you have to declare to everyone that you are the leader then the reality is that you probably are not.

Perfectionism is defined as, “a personal standard, attitude, or philosophy that demands perfection and rejects anything else.” Synonyms include the words idealist, nit-picker, purist, and quibbler. Perfectionists are sticklers for things being done right but usually become obsessive and split hairs over things that really do not matter. Perfectionists set standards that are impossible to meet, live with unrealistic expectation, and the stress of not being able to live up to these standards and expectations begins to take a tremendous toll on the leader.

LEADERSHIP PIPELINE

What do you do with those you are discipling who want more? The first thing you want to do is rejoice! Developing leaders takes initiative and intentionality to develop a track that is easy to follow and easily reproducible. You must be on the outlook for those who are pushing for the next steps. They are hungry and desire something more even after being discipled into a mature believer. Your discipleship must lead them from being an infant, to child, to young adult, and then to becoming a parent where they reproduce.

As young adults the discipleship process should be equipping the disciple to minister. In DiscipleShift, Jim Putman describes the young adult’s traits as becoming less self-centered and more others-centered. They begin to see themselves as ministers. They are also starting to tithe and give more and more of their time. They begin to see and understand their kingdom purpose. It is very important to provide them with ministry opportunities and think about ministry placement. Where are they gifted and what are they passionate about?

It is at this point in your church’s spiritual growth system that you need to think through and plan out how you will develop them as leaders. Do you have a leadership pipeline in place that will help them keep taking steps forward? Remember, the desire is to have a discipleship based multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches. Have you built a “next steps” mentality into your church ministry? Thinking of a pipeline helps you to visualize them as always flowing forward. Even as an infant they can know they need to find a place to serve.

The first step can be determining where they will serve. Give them the opportunity to try out several different ministries as they prayerfully consider what is the best fit for their personality and gift set. Then they can determine if that is the ministry team they want to be a part of and serve. Once they are team members they can learn through observation what it means to lead a team. A great principle here is to give them a project to accomplish before you give them a position. A crucial core value to this process is that, “No one leads who does not first serve!”

If you see them excelling at following through on their projects then they are an excellent candidates to be team leaders. The next step would be for them to coach several team leaders. Now they make sure that team leaders have all the resources they need to accomplish the team’s goals. An example of a coach could be overseeing the leaders of your small groups by checking in on them weekly to make sure all is well and if there is any way they can serve them to make their jobs easier. They can call them to encourage them, check in on their needs, and pray for them.

When do you begin to look for these leaders and what might this pipeline look like? Dr. Dave DeVries has laid out seven phases of leadership in his Multiplication Workshop. The cool thing about these seven phases is that the first three are the process you use for every believer. You do not consider anyone for leadership who is not already maturing in Christ, living on mission, and making disciples. One element that is all too often left out of the qualifications for leadership is, “Are they reproducing?” You will never see multiplication by elevating leaders who are not multiplying themselves.

First, they are maturing. It is not that they have matured but they are in the process of maturing. It is not a place of arrival but an ongoing journey. Here are some excellent questions to ask. Are they passionate about their spiritual growth? Are they spending time alone with the Lord? Is their evidence of spiritual character developing? Are they beginning to share their faith?

The second phase is missional living. They have an awareness and a burden to reach their circle of accountability with the love of Christ. They have begun praying for them and figuring out ways to serve them and display the love of Christ in practical ways. They want to be Jesus to them and are always looking for ways to bless those far from God and relationally build bridges to them.

Third, they are making disciples. They are not only a good follower of Jesus but they are also helping others to follow Him. This will not happen if they have not been trained and shown how to make disciples. Jim Putman says that this requires an intentional leader, a relational environment, and a reproducible process. Do you have a clear and easily reproducible process in place?

The next two phases are very similar in modeling and mentoring. You need to identify which leadership skills they need the most in their lives and then model them for them to observe in practical ministry settings such as conflict resolution. The mentoring will occur as you show them what to do, allow them to do it, and then debrief them about how the ministry opportunity went by asking good questions.

Now you are ready to mobilize them into service. These leaders will need to be shown how to build effective teams, how to empower others, how to encourage and care for their teams, how to evaluate progress, and how to strategize and plan. Make sure that you celebrate their progress and you give them permission to fail. They will not lead exactly like you, but that is a good thing.

Then they can multiply. The goal here is to lead leaders and that takes more prayer, skill, and effort than just leading followers. Without the multiplication of leaders you place a lid on the ability of your ministry to expand its impact for the kingdom of God. Are you multiplying yourself? “The pastor is not the minister. The pastor is the equipper, every member is a minister!” -Francis Chan

Lead With Passion

PASSION

What ingredient would you consider to be the most crucial for effective leadership? Maybe you would say that character is the most important, and character certainly does matter. What we do does come out of who we are. The number one characteristic important to employees in a recent survey was honesty. People cannot hear what you are saying over what they see you doing. Character counts if you are going to have the ability to influence those you are striving to lead.

Character leads into another important leadership quality – credibility. We live in a time where there is very little trust in leaders. It does not necessarily have anything to do with the individual in leadership as much as it is that they just hold a leadership position. Many have become suspicious of all and it takes patience and time to build credibility. The unfortunate truth is that credibility and trust can be lost in seconds. We live in a day and time where credibility must be earned by the lives we live!

Another important leadership ingredient is capability. Peter Drucker was quoted as saying, “Other than president of the United States, the three most difficult jobs in America today are president of a large university, administrator of a large hospital, and pastor of a large church.” The skill set for a pastor is off the charts with what is being expected and asked of this leader. Paul, when mentioning difficulties he had gone through, also listed the daily pressure on him from the care of the churches.

Perhaps a commitment to learning is the most important characteristic. There is no doubt that a leader must be a lifelong learner. Aubrey Malphurs says that, “a lack of teachability is the potential leader’s cardinal sin.” It is very important to remain flexible and to not think you have all of the answers. There is a trap with our egos when we think we have been doing this long enough and have it figured out. While experience is important, we should always remain teachable.

However, I believe that the most important leadership ingredient is passion! In Being Leaders, Aubrey Malphurs defines Christian leadership as, “the process whereby servants use their credibility and capability to influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.” Yes, character counts. Credibility and capability are also crucial ingredients as leaders but without passion they will not endure. A key to leadership is remaining close to Christ so that our hearts burn with His fire.

Lyle Schaller wrote, “I think passion is the critical variable. It has taken me a long time to come around to that, but if a pastor does not have a passion for the mission, you can forget the rest. I would insist that the number one quality of a leader is passion.” Aubrey Malphurs agrees, and so do I. If we are not passionate for our church and our city then maybe it is time to step aside? Or at least we must find a way for the passion to be rekindled! Paul told Timothy to “keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you.”

Malphurs defines passion in Being Leaders as, “a God-given capacity to commit oneself fervently over an extended period of time to meeting an objective. Here is a breakdown of this definition:

  • God-given: The only way for passion to burn within us is to spend time with the Lord. Luke 24:32 says, “Weren’t our hearts ablaze within us while He was talking with us on the road and explaining the Scriptures to us?” Passion comes from intimate time with Jesus!
  • Commit: Passion is not just the “rah rah” of a pep rally but it carries also a game plan. There is an intentionality and commitment to planning a strategy to do something about what we say we are passionate about. James 4:17, “So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.”
  • Fervently: Who will reach their cities for Christ? Those who are passionately in love with Him. What are you contributing to the fulfillment of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment? If we truly feel strongly about something it then propels us into action.
  • Extended period of time: This is not a short-term commitment, but rather, it means we are in it for the long haul. Malphurs says, “Passion has tenure!” It is what we have dedicated ourselves to until we have met the objective. Casting Crowns sings, “Until the whole world hears!”

The temptation is to think that passion is only for the extroverts and the outgoing.

In Leaders Who Last, Dave Kraft says, “Personality is a God thing not a personality thing!” Passion is equal to conviction and as you read the book of Acts you see that the early church was passionate. They were on fire with a boldness that created fearlessness in their lives. You do not see them obsessed with safety or comfort. They were ready to place their lives on the line for the cause of Christ and they did!

We read about the apostle’s passion when they were threatened and told to quit sharing the gospel in Acts 4:19-20, “But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Paul later says in Acts 20:24, “But I count my life of no value to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace.”

Passion is produced from a genuine joy that flows from being in love with Jesus. Healthy Christians, healthy leaders, and healthy churches are passionate!

MULTIPLYING LEADERS

Teamwork

“If the pastor leaves and reproduction stops, then you have a multiplication person not a multiplication culture!”  Wow, when I heard this statement recently it was like a ball peen hammer right between the eyes.  Leaders produce leaders not curriculum, classes, nor programs.  It takes investing in others through relationships that model disciple making and leadership development.  It requires an intentional mentoring relationship with others which in its purest sense is empowering them to succeed!

Dynamic Church Planting International training defines a mentor as, “Someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there.”  Here are some other definitions of a mentor:

  • “Mentoring is a brain to pick, a shoulder to cry on and a kick in the pants.” –John C. Crosby
  • “Mentoring is a relationship experience through which one person empowers another by sharing God-given resources.”  -Paul Stanley and J. Robert Clinton
  • “…the mentor relationship in its simplest form is a lot like a big brother, big sister relationship.  The big brother really wants to see the little brother win.”  -Bob Biehl
  • “A mentor provides modeling, close supervision on special projects, individualized help in many areas- discipline, correction, confrontation, and a calling to accountability.” –Ted Engstrom
  • “Wherever you turn today, you will find men looking for a guide, a coach, a model, an advisor.  They are looking for someone who knows about life.  In essence, they are looking for a mentor.” –Howard and William Hendricks
  •  “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” –Apostle Paul

God has a way of providing mentors for us throughout our lives.  Many of them occur naturally and some of them accidently but I want to challenge us to be more intentional in developing leaders through our leadership systems.  This way in our ministry multiplication will be in the culture of our ministry not just driven by one person.  We must all have an exit strategy just like Jesus did (see Jn 14:12).  Mentoring includes discipleship but it is more than that because a mentor can fulfill many roles such as teacher, coach, sponsor, friend, counselor, or advisor.

What does it look like for a leader to develop leaders through mentoring relationships? 

First, share your leadership!!!  There must be a willingness to lead through other people.  If you are not careful your commitment to excellence will hurt your desire to develop leaders.  You see, the temptation is to think we are the only ones who can do things the way we want them done.  You know what I’m talking about because many of us have said, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!”  That actually is not true!  The risk here is to trust other people and delegate responsibility but this risk must be taken.

Second, spend time training and developing others.  There must be a focus on training leaders to do the work of the ministry.  Remember, Jesus did not ignore the crowds but He did focus on His small group by pouring into their lives and encouraging them to do greater things then He did.  Someone has said that to encourage means to “pour courage into someone else.”  It is easy to develop a culture in our ministries where everything depends on us but that is not scriptural.  Who are you pouring courage into through intentional relationships so that they might develop into reproducing leaders?

Third, shift from a “me” mentality to a “we’ culture.  We really can accomplish more working together!  What activities do you need to pass off to someone else so that you can focus on leadership development?  If you are too busy to mentor potential leaders than you are too busy!  Take a closer look at what you are doing and realize that 80-85% of what you do could be done by someone else.  We must make time to develop leaders and develop a multiplication culture of reproducing disciple and leaders.  What would happen if you were to dedicate 5-10 hours a week to mentoring others who would then mentor others?

Healthy ministries work hard at developing a multiplication culture!

 

Lead Like Jesus

Jesus Leadership

The first, and best, place we should look to learn how to lead is Jesus.  He not only told the twelve disciples what to do, but more importantly, He showed them.  Taking a closer look at how He developed leaders there are several simple but profound observations:

 

First, Jesus spent a lot of time with those He would pour the last three and a half years of His life into here on earth.  He spent up close personal time observing these potential leaders.  They laughed together, ate together, travelled together, and did life together.  Some practical lessons gleaned from Jesus’ leadership examples are:

 

  • Be careful about those looking for titles or positions.
  • Look for those already busy.
  • Give small assignments at first.
  • Go slow and watch to see how they develop. 

 

Second, Jesus selected His leaders.  We do not seem to like this thinking, but Jesus handpicked His leaders, and not everyone is meant to be the kind of leader these men became.  A dangerous mentality is thinking that anyone in the church can serve in whatever position they choose.  The biblical example is that those who became leaders first proved themselves faithful.

 

  • Be careful about using sign-up sheets.
  • Develop Life Transformation Groups to develop leaders.
  • Build up leaders through personal relationships not just through teaching.
  • Select those who have proven themselves to the church.

 

Third, Jesus showed them how they were supposed to lead.  We cannot forget that leadership development is so much more than information transfer.  His leadership style had a high priority on obedience over knowledge.  He was looking for those who were not only hearers of the word but doers also.  Remember, you cannot lead what you do not live.

 

  • Treat leaders as apprentices rather than as students.
  • Invite potential leaders into your home and visit theirs.
  • Hold one another accountable for their spiritual walk.
  • Do not promote those who are not working at making disciples.

 

Fourth, Jesus sent the disciples into situations that they were not prepared for.  A huge mistake to avoid is making leadership too easy.  They must realize that there will be opposition and there will be hardships and struggles along the way.  Recently I heard someone say, “If you’re not in a fight, you’re not doing it right!”   While I am not promoting looking for a fight, I do want to say when you sell out to Christ the fight has a way of finding you.

 

  • Leaders must be placed into situations that will stretch their faith.
  • Hardships are not always a bad thing but can develop godly character.
  • Risk is a part of leadership and we are to walk by faith.
  • Leaders must learn to depend more on the Lord and less on themselves.

 

Fifth, Jesus started a movement by pouring His life into a few so that He could reach many.  You cannot turbo train leaders because serving the Lord is not a sprint but a marathon.  As leaders develop, accountability will increase but control will decrease, which will energize the new leader.  If both accountability and control increase then everyone involved will become frustrated.

 

  • Leaders produce leaders not curriculum.
  • The first step is building relationships.
  • Look for those who are already serving and have a teachable spirit.
  • Every leader is different and the goal is not clones or robots.

 

Jesus showed us how to develop leaders.  I want to remind you of what Jim Putman said in Discipleshift, “We cannot divorce Jesus’ teachings from His methods and get His results.”  There is a great need for us to be completely honest with the potential leaders we are trying to develop.  Jesus had very honest conversations with the 12 disciples and we must be careful about misplaced kindness.

Healthy churches strive to develop leaders the same way Jesus did!

A YOUNG LEADER’S WISDOM

coaching

When I am asked what I would do if I could do exactly what I wanted to do, you know, the dream job, I realize that I am doing exactly that.  It is such a privilege to pour into other leaders who have a heart and vision to then pour into others.  SOAR was awesome this year and the theme was Three Chairs – Discipleship and we were challenged to sit in the middle chair.  Who is the Paul in your life that is pouring into you and who is your Timothy that you are pouring into? 

One of the things God reminded me of was said by Scott Attebery, “Discipleship is more about progress than it is perfection.”  Every one of us has challenges and struggles.  We need coaches, mentors, and examples to follow.  We can also learn from those younger than us and even less experienced than us.  None of us have arrived and we must make sure that we remain teachable, flexible, and good listeners.  Here is some more wisdom from a young leader, P.J. Noland at Oasis Church;   

“The ear that listens to life-giving reproof will dwell among the wise.” Pro. 15:31 “If we expect those that lead alongside us and over us to delegate authority to us, then we must be open to receive coaching from them.  Leadership expert John Maxwell says, ‘To be coachable you have to be approachable.’  Before we can even ask ourselves if we’re coachable, I think we must honestly answer if we’re approachable.  

As a leader do you allow others ahead of you to speak in to your life?  Are you willing to listen to things you may not want to hear, but need to hear?  Do you give those before you permission to constructively critique you?  If you find the right coaches, you can expect those people to speak truth in to your life not to hurt you, but to help you.  

     How do we become coachable leaders? 

     1. Seek Ongoing Feedback – After watching several of my own sermons online I quickly learned that the applause of men can be very, very deceiving.  Yes, we all need encouragement.  But we also need honest feedback.  We need to invite leaders more experienced to coach us to become more effective leaders for the kingdom of God.  Not so that we can serve for their approval.  But so that we can serve more efficiently for His glory!  I encourage you to invite a few trusted and respected leaders that you look up to, to begin giving you some honest feedback about your life and ministry. As they pour in to you, you can pour better in to others.


     2.  Seek Mentoring Moments – I’ve probably driven some of my mentors crazy seeking out moments of mentoring.  But it’s in those moments where I’ve learned to be a better husband, leader, and friend.  Mentoring moments do not have to take place with your Bible and Greek lexicon open.  There’s nothing wrong with studying the Bible with a seasoned leader, but I’ve probably been mentored more by watching godly men actually live out what they observed during their quiet times.  Invite your mentor out for coffee, to go hunting, or any other common interest.  Your mentor doesn’t have to be someone you know personally.  I’ve been mentored from a distance by authors, pastors, and even men and women from scripture.  It’s not so much about how you’re mentored as it is that you have mentors.    

     3.  Seek Leadership Development – Leaders that lead up are leaders that listen, learn, read, and adjust properly along the way.  The truth is, until we get to heaven each of us have lessons to be learned and skills to sharpen.  If we’re going to lead up like Joshua we’d better be seeking leadership development along the way.  Leadership development can come through books, feedback, mentoring, podcasts, seminars, reading scripture, listening to sermons, and many other ways.  But as long as you and I wear the hat of an overseer, we desire an honorable position, so we’d better be seeking to become better leaders.

     Leaders, let’s lead up and along the way remember what a colleague of mine tweeted recently @nathanbrewer89: “Hopeful in the Grace God offers us young guys who think we have ministry figured out. He will lovingly reveal to us our foolishness.”  

WALK THE TALK

Walk the Talk

As I was putting my thoughts down on paper this week, (ok, typing them on my laptop) I opened up twitter and saw this post by Ed Stetzer, “You cannot lead what you do not live.”  How true!  It was an affirmation on my heart of what God wanted me to write about.  The apostle Paul wrote it this way in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.”  Leadership development is asking others to imitate us as we imitate Christ.  We should expect what we do not emulate.

As leaders, are we modeling to those following what we expect them to demonstrate in their lives?  We must model what living for Christ looks like before those who are looking to us for spiritual direction.  Dr. Dave DeVries says this about modeling, “To develop the leadership skills of others – a leader must intentionally model skills that will be a template for others to follow.”  Leaders must model discipleship because multiplication begins with leadership that is modeling the process of making disciples, maturing believers, and reproducing leaders.

Everyone can use more leaders!  The reality is that there are probably more leaders around than we realize.  Churches need to have a system in place to discover, develop, and deploy leaders.  While recruiting leaders is a viable option we must also concentrate on raising up leaders from within our churches.  Look for those in your church who are maturing in their spiritual walk, leading others to Christ, and reproducing other disciples.  This is the biblical standard for every follower of Christ and should be a prerequisite to leadership.

What if every leader in the church intentionally gave at least 10% of their time to raising up other leaders?  We must think people, not programs!  We need to spend time with potential leaders, allow them to walk alongside of us as we do ministry, and do life together.  It seems that we focus so much on the WHAT that the HOW gets overlooked.  The reality is that “Jesus” method on discipleship was relational followed up by action steps.  There needs to be a shift in many ministries from teaching to modeling.

There is an old adage that says, “Tell me and I’ll forget.  Show me and I may remember.  Involve me and I’ll understand.”  Rick Warren in Purpose Driven Church puts it this way, “Instead of trying to grow a church with programs, focus on growing people with a process.”  May I suggest to you that the process begins with a leader modeling what we are asking others to imitate.  Here are some thoughts about modeling:

  • If you want people with a servant’s heart, you must have a servant’s heart.
  • If you want others to disciple people, you must be discipling others.
  • If you want people to reach out to the lost, the last, and the least, you must personally be building relationships with unbelievers. 
  • If you want a praying church, you must be a man of prayer.
  • If you want a friendly church, you must be friendly.

 There must be a system, or process, for intentional mentoring by modeling in front of others what God expects from every one of His disciples.  Healthy leaders reproduce healthy leaders. They are passionate about discipling and mentoring emerging leaders. They keep looking for ways to raise up leaders and give away their ministry responsibilities to those whom they have trained.  They have a passion to be a Paul to young potential leaders who God has placed in their lives. 

Everyone needs a mentor who models to them what is expected of leaders.  Remember a mentor is someone who has been where you want to go and is willing to help you get there.  Developing leaders is vital to the future of any church and ministry.  Don’t forget that the Speed of the Leader = Speed of the Team!  It starts with the Lead Pastor and it cannot be delegated to someone else.

Wasting Time

Wasting Time

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Do you sometimes feel like there are not enough hours in the day?  How do you decide what things must be done and what things should be done?  Twice in the New Testament (Eph. 5:16, Col. 4:5) we are told to redeem the time.  The idea is to rescue or recover our time from waste; to improve it for great and important purposes.  Time is a very precious commodity that once gone you can never bring back.  You can tell a lot about a person’s values by looking at their calendar and how they spend their time.

In Leading on Empty Wayne Cordeiro challenges to focus on our 5% that no one else can do for us.  He says that 85% of what we do anyone can do and that another 10% of what we do we could train someone to do those things for us.  How do you stay focused on the things only you can accomplish?  What is the best investment of the time God has given you?  We cannot afford to waste time because it will drain us physically, mentally, and spiritually.  “It is easier to train a doer than to activate a thinker.” –Andy Stanley 

Ron Edmonson has some great thoughts on how to not waste time.  He says, “I firmly believe if we get rid of common energy wasters we can dramatically improve our performance as leaders. With that in mind, I’ve spent time in my personal development finding ways to eliminate time and energy wasters.”  Here are 7 common wastes of energy in leadership that he shared in a recent blog.

Focusing attention on the naysayers – I have found that worrying over what the critics are saying, especially the ones I will never make happy, delays progress and takes time from and frustrates the positive people who believe in the vision and are ready to move forward.

Refusing to delegate – When I make every decision, or become too controlling as a leader, I rob myself and the team of valuable energy and talent and I feel overwhelmed more quickly.

Second guessing decisions – I find it is better to work to make better decisions moving forward rather than live in a pity party of bad ones already made.

Trying to have all the ideas – Many leaders feel they have to be the originator of all the creative energy of a team. They waste time brainstorming alone rather than expanding the creative process. Consequently, the best ideas often never surface. Original thoughts, better than ours, are usually in the room or the organization if we will welcome them to the table and it preserves my time for more efficient use.

Living with broken structure – Let’s face reality. Over time, rules take on a life of their own. What was once created to improve structure actually begins to slow progress and waste valuable time. Change the rules…or even drop them… and you often free up valuable space for people to breathe and enjoy their work.

Disorganization – Need I expand? Many leaders feel overwhelmed because they don’t have good organizational skills. Learning how to better handle routine tasks such as processing emails, calendaring, and scheduling work flow each week will drastically improve time efficiency.

Completing tasks not designed for me – This could be any number of things. Even reading a book. For example, perhaps a silly example, but I have discovered that sometimes I read too much. That sounds strange…I know…but really it’s because I read things I didn’t need to read. I start a book and within the first chapter I know it’s not helpful or even enjoyable…my sense of completion wants to finish. But, better is to put it aside and pick up another book. The novel length email…I try to determine first if I’m the one who should respond. Many times I’m not. It could be attending a meeting…or supervising a project. Whatever it is that I am not the best person for the job or it is just a time waster, the sooner I stop it or hand off the task, the more energy I preserve.

Leading Change Part 2

Leading Change

John Kotter has written a lot about change (Leading Change & Our Iceberg is Melting) and has made it his business to study the successes and failures in change.  He writes, “The most general lesson to be learned from the more successful cases is that the change process goes through a series of phases that, in total, usually require a considerable length of time. Skipping steps creates only the illusion of speed and never produces satisfactory results” and “making critical mistakes in any of the phases can have a devastating impact, slowing momentum and negating hard-won gains.”

First, he suggests that you must Establish a Sense of Urgency –Talk of change typically begins with someone noticing vulnerability or weaknesses that need to be addressed.  (See Blog on Jan 23. 2013).  The following is a formula for change: A + B + C > D.  A = Dissatisfaction with the status quo.  B = Knowledge of a better alternative.  C = Knowledge of first steps.  D = The cost of making the change.  

Second, Form a Powerful Guiding Coalition – Change efforts often start with just one or two people, and should grow continually to include more and more who believe the changes are necessary.  What if a group of burdened believers in every church covenanted together to pray daily for their pastor, their church, and other churches for God to move in a mighty way?  The sense of urgency already mentioned must begin with someone who cares enough to begin to do something to change the status quo.  What better place to begin than on our knees?   Zechariah 4:6 says, “Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.”  There is no coalition more powerful or wiser than our Lord!

Third, Create a Vision – Successful transformation rests on “a picture of the future that is relatively easy to communicate…. A vision helps clarify the direction in which an organization needs to move.” The vision functions in many different ways: it helps spark motivation, it helps keep all the projects and changes aligned, it provides a filter to evaluate how the organization is doing, and it provides a rationale for the changes the organization will have to weather. “A useful rule of thumb: if you can’t communicate the vision to someone in five minutes or less and get a reaction that signifies both understanding and interest, you are not yet done with this phase of the transformation process.”  It is necessary for churches to determine their present reality, their preferred future, and then develop a plan on how to get there.

Fourth, Communicate that Vision – Kotter suggests the leadership should estimate how much communication of the vision is needed, and then multiply that effort by a factor of ten. Do not limit it to one congregational meeting, a sermon by the minister, or a couple of mail outs to members. Leaders must be seen “walking the talk” – another form of communication — if people are going to perceive the effort as important. “Deeds” along with “words” are powerful communicators of the new ways. The bottom line is that a transformation effort will fail unless most of the members understand, appreciate, commit, and try to make the effort happen. The guiding principle is simple: use every existing communication channel and opportunity.

Please remember to wait on the Lord when working through the process of change.  Waiting is not bad and all you have to do is read verses like Isaiah 40:31 “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Also, my personal favorite in Psalms 27:14, “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.”  When God has shown you what to do move forward but if He has not spoken clearly wait until He does.  In a recent message by my Todd West, my pastor, said, “Sometimes it takes more faith and courage to wait on God than it does to move forward!”