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It Shouldn’t Be Lonely at the Top

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All of us have heard the statement, “It’s lonely at the top.” It is odd that after you hear a statement so many times, whether it is true or not, you begin to believe it. Just because of repitiion we give credence to certain facts or sayings that actually are the opposite of how it should be.

Recently I heard John Maxwell say, “If it’s lonely at the top, your not doing something right!” The truth of that statement really resonated with me and it convicted me of leadership mistakes I have made through the years. Some out of immaturity, some out of igorance, some out of inexperience, and some out of my insecurities.

Tom Nebel recently said to me, “Be a leader others want to follow and develop leaders others want to follow!” That is great advice. The goal should be to create an enviroment in our church leaderhsip where people want to be a part of it.

There will be leadership challenges and there will certainly be those who no matter what you do will not cooperate. But we must protect ourselves from a “my way or the highway” mentality. Being totally transparent I have always been a strong leader but sometimes that came off as, “either help me or get out of my way.”

To be honest we were moving, we were gaining ground, but the road kill along the way was unacceptable! Here are five ideas to lead well and to be the kind of leader others want to follow:

  • Cast Vision Together! There are vision casters but their must also be vision carriers. People want to know you value them and you value their opinion. Yes, you will have to guard your vision and protect it but you must explain the “why” of the vision. The “why” is crucial if you want people to help you figure out the how and the what! I remember Dr Roy McLaughlin saying one time, “If you don’t know where you are going a Cadillac will not get you there, but if you know where you are going any old jalopy will do!”

“Vision is a picture of the future that creates passion in people!” -Bill Hybels

  • Communicate, Communicate Communicate!  There are those who will follow just because the vision is exciting and challenging but there are many who will need more than that. They need a plan, a strategy, or a blueprint of how it will be carried out. Just because they ask questions or are hesitant does not mean they are against you. They probably just need more information. Slow down take your time and try to answer as many of their questions as you possibly can even before they ask!

“You are busy and you have a thousand things to do today. But one ounce of clarity is worth a hundred pounds of activity!” -Will Mancini

  • Provide the necessary training to improve everyones skill sets! You must always be working hard at developing those you lead whether they are paid or volunteer. If you want more from them, then they first need more from you. The question you should always be asking about those you lead is, “What is the next skill set I need to develop in them?”  It is unrealistic and very unfair to give someone a job and not properly train them to accomplish it! Give them the tools they need!

“Disappointment takes place when you expect too much from someone you barely communicate with.” -D.A. Horton

  • Build real authentic relationships! The law of the inner circle says that those closest to you will determine your level of success. A great leader begins by having great self-awareness and then continuing to develop themselves.  LaCrae puts it this way, “You can impress people from a distance, but if you want to impact them get up close.” How do you build trust? You have the other persons best interests at heart. Sit down with them, listen to them, and learn from them. Even unfair criticsm may have a kernel of truth you can learn from!

“Show me your team members, and I’ll show you your potential as a church.” -Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird

  • Be a Team Player! Being a team player means that you are always fighting for the highest possible good in the lives of those on your team. It is not about the team making you look good but rather you helping the team to look good. Maybe your thinking your in big touble because you know those who are on your team and you don’t think they have what it takes. Then ask yourself what is it they need from you? How can you help to develop them into the leader they need to be? Who needs you to invest more time into them? Who is that knows what they need and is able to give it to them?

“Everything rises or falls on leadership, and a plurality of leaders united under a common cause is stronger than a lone-ranger, solo leader.” -Jim Tomberlin

You see, it should not be lonely at the top. Not everyone will go but many more will if we are the kind of leader others want to follow and we are developing leaders others will want to follow.

Healthy leaders are not lonely!!!

Team Building

Team Building

   When a church is building a leadership team many times the attempt to build a “dream” team can actually hurt the ministry more than help it.  Just because you go after the “all star” type of leaders and staff does not mean that they will have the right kind of team chemistry.  Be careful of looking for abilities first but rather look for character and godly fruit in their lives. Looking for team members who are full of the Holy Spirit requires looking for individuals who are bearing the fruit of the Spirit.  Here are some things to look for when building a team.

     First, look for those who are people driven!  They are relational and love being with people, ministering to people, and caring for people.  Other people love to be around them because they focus on them and not themselves.  Make sure that you can get a good testimony from their church family that they are given to hospitality and known for creating community and not destroying it.  Some people are great at planning and creating programs but when people begin to work with them they are difficult to get along with.  Team members must be more people focused than program focused.  They may be an introvert but their heart causes them to reach out to others.

     Secondly, make sure they understand what they are being asked to do.  It is unfair to expect things from a team member when they do not know what those expectations are.  Pay attention to details and a clear written description of their responsibilities will help everyone on the team. There is no room for handshake deals because soon there will be misunderstandings about who said what.   A good thing to remember when recruiting team members to serve in a particular area is to under promise and over deliver.  Be very careful and cautious about unrealistic expectations. 

     Third, you also need to look for people who are generalists and not specialists.  Specialization can come later but look first for people who have a servant heart and have a burden for the entire spiritual health of the church not just one particular group.  They must be willing to help wherever help is needed.  Stress core values of the church and the non-negotiables.  The things that team members should always do and those things team members should never do must be clearly communicated to all team members.  Every person needs to know what can get them promoted and what can get them fired.  Remember, it is always easier to promote than demote.

     Fourth, be aware that there are diamonds in the rough out there.  They might already be in your church and just need the attention and mentoring of someone who is already a leader.  Many are convinced that the only way to build a team is through recruiting them but they can be raised up through our own farm systems.  When they are raised up from within then they already understand the church culture they are in and the learning curve greatly diminishes.  When you recruit from without there is often a required time of deprogramming that must occur for them to fit in and embrace the vision of your team.

     Fifth, make sure those on your team are disciple makers.  They are going to mentor, teach, and train others to take over for them.  Everyone on the team should always be trying to work themselves out of a job.  They should be willing to cross train individuals to be able to do the work of “the” ministry not “a” ministry.  Look for team members who are not into titles, promotions, raises, and recognition but are more interested in equipping and encouraging others.  They do not care who gets the credit but they do want God to get all the glory.

     Every great team is more interested in the other team members than they are in themselves.  They have an exit strategy for when they may no longer be on the team.  They realize that no one is indispensable so they want to make sure that their bench is deep and there are plenty of people who can step forward to lead when they are needed.  God’s team is always reproducing disciples and reproducing leaders by pouring into them what they need to know and then giving them the opportunity to play in the game.  Everyone on the team is important for the body of Christ to function the way He wants His churches to function!