Posts Tagged leadership
This past Sunday we talked about the values of Proclamation and Demonstration — the idea that Jesus talked about the good news of his Kingdom and also did actions that proved his love.
I joyfully borrowed from Andy Stanley’s principle, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone.” It’s a helpful principle, especially in light of how many overwhelming needs there are in our cities and communities.
I’d encourage you to watch a recent message that Stanley gave on this entitled, “One, Not Everyone.” In particular, don’t miss his personal story of how he has seen this principle work out in a very powerful way (starts around the 20:00 mark).
Yesterday we announced that Second Mile is joining Redemption Church and becoming the Redemption Gateway Campus. The most common and natural question about it is “Why?” This brief video explains four of the key reasons:
Justin Anderson is one of the lead pastors at Redemption Church, and he was kind to spend some time last night with our leaders at our monthly “2nd Tuesday” gathering. Training leaders is a high priority for us as a church, and Justin’s words were great things for us to hear. I had asked him to speak on the topic, “How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry.” Unfortunately we didn’t have the audio equipment available to record his talk, but here’s a summary of what we learned.
Foundational Principle — Grace Leads to Action
In Ephesians 2:8-10, we learn that we are absolutely dependent on God’s grace. We are saved by God’s grace, period. But this always leads to action always follows from true grace. If you don’t think God loves you by grace, you miss the gospel. If you don’t act as a result of the grace you’ve received, you misunderstand the power of the gospel.
How to Accidentally Screw Up Your Ministry
1. Use guilt, shame, or moralism to motivate people. While guilting people into action is always easier and has power to produce results, it produces only short-term results. The gospel motivates by grace, love, and a compelling vision for the future. So should we. There are times when we need to administer a “kick in the pants” to those we love, but we should not make guilt our de-facto motivator.
2. Stay off mission. Many leaders convince themselves and their people that they “aren’t ready” for mission or that they need to grow more first. The result is that they end up insulated in a Christian subculture that never contributes to the overall Kingdom of God.
3. Use your ministry to prop yourself up. It’s wonderful to receive compliments and encouragement, but if you are using your ministry to find your identity, you are an idolater. One of Justin’s former pastors said, “Compliments are like perfume. Smell them and you’ll be fine, but drink them and you’ll be sick.”
4. Don’t let your ministry get bigger than you. Many leaders put themselves at the center where nothing can happen without them. As a result, the ministry stifles and young leaders never develop their full potential.
5. Forget that your ministry is just a piece of the puzzle of the church. Because we love the ministry we do, it’s easy to see our ministry as the ultimate one. As a result, many leaders and ministries compete with each other rather than serve each other. Leaders are called to raise their sights above this and keep the big picture in mind.
6. Sacrifice your family or personal walk with God for the sake of ministry. If your life is screwed up, your ministry is screwed up. If you don’t pray or love your spouse because you are “doing ministry,” soon you will have no ministry to do and your life will be in shambles.
7. Lead negatively more than positively. Rather than being an encouraging coach who celebrates others’ wins and allows them to have a voice in their development, many leaders focus too much on what is broken and on telling others what to do.
8. Forget that there is nothing more important than knowing, loving, and experiencing Jesus. The Apostle Paul says in Philippians 3 that everything was rubbish compared to knowing Jesus. If we forget this, then our ministries–which should be designed to help people love Jesus–miss the mark.
9. Overspiritualize your ministry. These are leaders who pray but don’t plan. They talk but don’t do. This is a mistake. We should both pray and strategize.
10. Underspiritualize your ministry. These are leaders who plan and do but don’t pray. They over-value their creativity and resourcefulness and forget that they desperately need the Lord to guide them.
11. Forget that millions of Christians have come before you. Leaders are prone to have “new” ideas that aren’t really all that new and to convince themselves that their ideas are novel. But they aren’t. For example, in the 90s Bill Hybels talked about being “Contagious Christians” and now people talk about being “missional.” Many of our ideas are not new or novel (if they were it might be heresy), but are simply repackaged versions of things Christians have done for centuries. We would be wise to learn from them and humble ourselves.
I just finished Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence, by Crawford Loritts. It was recommended by a friend as one of the best leadership books he’d read and I really enjoyed it. I heard Loritts speak a number of times when I was in college at a number of Campus Crusade events, so it was nice to ‘reconnect’ with him and his ministry (he’s now the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Georgia).
As the subtitle suggests, Loritts lists four key traits of godly leadership. They are: 1) Brokenness, 2) Uncommon Communion (with God), 3) Servanthood as an Identity, and 4) Radical, Immediate Obedience
Overall, I found the book to be very helpful. Loritts pulled principles from a number of biblical places, and the book is filled with many great quotes from other Christian leaders. Here is what I took away as the big idea, followed by some of the key lessons and quotes that impacted me, by section.
Leadership is ultimately about character. If you have all the skills and talent and charisma in the world but lack character, you will eventually lose your influence. Christian leadership is fueled by pursuing a close relationship with God and all that comes with it.
- “Brokenness is not a onetime event. It is never finished.” (36)
- “Sometimes well-meaning people have tried to talk me out of [my] sense of inadequacy. But this sense is vital to fruitful ministry.” (Randy Alcorn, 37)
- “Pride is one of the easiest ways for a younger leader to lose his influence.” (Ken Behr, 39)
- “Your ability to discern God’s will is directly related to presenting your body as a ‘living sacrifice.'” (44)
- “Brokenness empowers a leader because it forces him or her to do more than lip service to the grace of God.” (Tim Kimmel, 54)
- “Failure should not be the primary source of our brokenness. It is the ever-present realization that we could hurt [God’s] heart–that we carry within us a pull towards sin–that ought to keep pushing us toward God.” (57)
- “Authentic brokenness always casts the spotlight on the glory of God and not the fact that we struggle.” (67)
- “God breaks us at various times in our lives to raise us up to the next level. A brokenness episode in our thirties does not exempt us from a brokenness episode in our forties.” (Monty Watson, 75)
- “If a leader doesn’t humble himself, he leaves God no choice but to humiliate him. And he will because he must. The work of his kingdom cannot be left at the mercy of a leader who is wrapped up in himself.” (Tim Kimmel, 83)
2. Uncommon Communion (with God)
- “Why do so many workers break down? Not from overwork, but because there has been friction of the machinery; there hasn’t been enough oil of the Spirit.” (DL Moody, 86)
- “Never underestimate the power of self-deception and the pull towards self-reliance.” (92)
- “Unexamined failure teaches you nothing.” (96)
- “The only thing worse than waiting on the Lord is wishing you had!” (113)
- “I can’t think of a time in which I had everything I needed ahead of time to do what I believe the Lord wanted me to do.” (117)
3. Servanthood as an Identity
- “Sometimes the [term ‘servant leadership’] is used in a utilitarian way…we need to be careful that we are not using servant leadership language as a strategy–as a means to manipulate people to do what we want them to do.” (131)
- “Don’t think of yourself as a leader but as a follower of Jesus…most leaders have fallen because at some point of their lives they ceased to be a follower of Jesus.” (131-132)
- “Both pride and humility have, for the most part, very little to do with your actions and choices, but they have everything to do with your motives and attitudes.” (133)
- “Unfortunately, too many leaders love the tasks but just tolerate the people.” (145)
- “Those who work with me or report to me should feel as if I have invested more in them than I have asked them to give.” (146)
- “This is what Jesus defined as greatness. You must be a servant. You don’t just act like one; you must become one.” (150)
4. Radical, Immediate Obedience
- “There’s no such thing as partial obedience. We either completely do what God says or we disobey him.” (171)
- “You can never get too big or too important for God to replace you.” (175)
- “[When they failed,] Saul was afraid of losing his position as the leader of Israel. But David was afraid of losing the touch, intimacy, and favor of God who had been everything to him. Honestly, what are you more afraid of?” (176)
- “If you quit now, you probably will be quitting for the rest of your life.” (184)
- “Courage is…complete obedience in the face of opposition.” (186)
- “It is a good thing to remember the failures of those we admire.” (188)
- “Courage is like a muscle; it grows stronger with use.” (192)
- “We need to be acutely aware of the cumulative nature of our little choices.” (Randy Alcorn, 199)
I met yesterday with a friend who is leaving our church. We had a good conversation about his reasons for leaving (they are legitimate) and then some discussion about how he can “leave well.” I told him that, based on my experience with people leaving our church or coming to our church after leaving another one, most people don’t leave well.
Here are a few ideas on how to leave a church well:
1. Have a good reason for leaving. Before you go, evaluate whether your reasons are good, legitimate and God-honoring. Here’s a thought-provoking post exploring good, possible, and bad reasons for leaving a church (and here’s a discussion about this post). I don’t think this list is comprehensive, but it’s good to make you think. If your reasons are good, go. If not, stay.
2. Communicate your decision to leave with the appropriate leaders. If you’re an active part of the church, leaders will need to know you’re leaving. If you are serving, communicate it to your Ministry Team leader. If you are in a Community Group, communicate it to the leader. If you are connected with an elder or pastor, communicate it with them. Personal communication is preferable to written communication, but make sure you communicate.
3. Tell these leaders the truth about why you’re leaving. If you have legitimate reasons to leave then you have nothing to hide or worry about. If the reasons for leaving will sting church leadership, deliver it in the spirit of Proverbs 27:6, “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Scripture commands us to “speak the truth in love” (Eph 4:15), which means you don’t couch the real, sometimes difficult reasons behind a bunch of spiritualized nonsense. God may use your reasons for leaving to help the church or its leaders. I’ve had at least one “exit interview” that was immensely helpful to me as a leader — some of the truth of it stung, but it helped me grow. Whatever you do, don’t just leave without telling your leaders.
4. Appropriately transition or conclude your ministry commitments. If you’ve been an active part of ministry, your role will need to be transitioned. Hopefully you’ve been training and developing somebody to take your place anyway, but if you haven’t, give your leaders an appropriate time to find others to serve in your capacity. This period shouldn’t drag on, but you also should not just drop the ball on the people you’ve been committed to.
5. Leave graciously. In Ray Pritchard’s post on this topic, he writes:
“[Leaving] graciously means you refuse to speak evil of those who remain in the church. Look forward, not backward. Focus on your new church, not your old one. Think carefully before you speak about your former congregation. Don’t say anything that could be remotely construed as criticism. Even casual comments could stir up needless controversy. Let the Golden Rule guide all your comments public and private.”
If you’ve read this post and realize that you didn’t leave a church well in the past, it might be wise to circle back to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. If you have gossiped or stirred up division, you should make it right, apologizing not only to the leaders of that church but also to the people to whom you gossiped.
In the end, remember that Jesus loves the church you’re leaving and the one you’re going to — His blood was shed for both. Both churches are part of his bride. Do his bride the honor of leaving well.
Question: Is there anything else you’d recommend for somebody leaving a church?
Since I got a Kindle for my birthday I’ve been tearing through a number of books. One helpful, quick read was Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. It was on my radar for a while, but Josh Reich’s recommendation pushed me over the edge.
Rework feels like you’re reading a series of blog posts — each chapter is short, straightforward and filled with helpful ideas related to leadership, management, and productivity. Not everything translated to church leadership, but much of it did. Additionally, with Fried and Hansson working in a small business environment, there was much that fit well with our current small-but-growing size dynamic.
Here were some of my favorite quotes:
- “Have you ever noticed that while small businesses wish they were bigger, big businesses dream about being more agile and flexible?” This is so true, especially for churches. It’s easy to be discontent and see the greener grass.
- “Workaholics aren’t heroes. They don’t save the day, they just use it up. The real hero is already home because she figured out a faster way to get things done.”
- “What you do is what matters, not what you think or say or plan.” This reminds me of the Principle of the Path.
- “When you want something bad enough, you make the time–regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough…Besides, the perfect time never arrives. You’re always too old or busy or broke or something else. If you constantly fret about timing things perfectly, they’ll never happen.”
- “When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.” This seems to be very true with vision. Clear vision makes decision making much easier.
- “Don’t use the idea of a startup as a crutch. Instead start with an actual business…Actual businesses don’t mask deep problems by saying, ‘It’s OK, we’re a startup.’ Act like an actual business and you’ll have a much better shot at succeeding.” This principle is something I am trying to reinforce with the church planters I coach.
- “Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.”
- “You can turn a bunch of great ideas into a crappy product real fast by trying to do them all at once.”
- “Whenever you can, swap ‘Let’s think about it’ for ‘Let’s decide on it.’ Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward.” I’m finding that as our church grows in complexity, it’s increasingly important to make decisions quickly or else the ‘let’s think about it’ pile grows way too big.
- “The menus at failing restaurants offer too many dishes.” This is why we have fought to keep our ministry very simple. We do Sunday and community groups.
- “The core of your business should be built around things that won’t change. Things that people are going to want today and ten years from now. Those are the things you should invest in.” This is why our ministry is built around the gospel as declared in God’s word. It won’t change. The core needs of human hearts won’t change.
- “It’s unfortunate that meetings are typically scheduled like TV shows. You set aside thirty minutes or an hour because that’s how scheduling software works. Too bad. If it only takes seven minutes to accomplish a meeting’s goal, then that’s all the time you should spend. Don’t stretch seven into thirty.”
- “When you stick with your current customers come hell or high water, you wind up cutting yourself off from new ones. Your product or service becomes so tailored to your current customers that it stops appealing to fresh blood. And that’s how your company starts to die.” There’s lots of tension here, but I think there’s an interesting principle at work here, especially for church leadership. As Andy Stanley says, “Will your church focus on reaching people or keeping people?”
- “Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth. It’s hard, but you have to be patient. You have to grind it out.”
- “When something goes wrong, someone is going to tell the story. You’ll be better off if it’s you. Otherwise, you create an opportunity for rumors, hearsay, and false information to spread.”
- “Remember that negative reactions [to change] are almost always louder and more passionate than positive ones.”
- “The decisions you make today don’t need to last forever. It’s easy to shoot down good ideas, interesting policies, or worthwhile experiments by assuming that whatever you decide now needs to work for years on end.” This is why I believe firmly in the “Brett Favre Principle” or the “for now” principle. The only constant in organizational life is change.
Which of these stand out to you? Any that you strongly agree or disagree with?
Last week I spent a fun couple of days in Seattle for the Acts29 National Bootcamp. It was packed with lots of teaching (almost too much), many great conversations, and the opportunity to help assess a number of potential church planters. Here are a number of the key lessons from this experience that might be worth sharing:
- “Your calling as a church planter / leader is mostly tested in your emotional life” (Darrin Patrick).
- “Whatever meaningful help people receive they will use to help others” (Tim Lane). This is why helping people with the gospel in the context of the local church is so effective. If people are helped, they will help others.
- “You don’t really know how somebody is growing as a disciple until you pray with them” (Jeff Vanderstelt).
- “GL + RR + GC = MI” (Patrick). In other words, Gospeled Life (owning sin but basking in acceptance) + Relational Rent (paying relational price with people) + Gospel Clarity (articulating the gospel) = Missional Impact.
- “If thou dost call me to resign / What most I prize never was mine / I only yield Thee what is Thine / Thy will be done” (from the song “My God, My Father”)
- “Most marriages are not set up for a 50-year run. The most important day of your marriage isn’t your wedding day — it’s your last day” (Mark Driscoll)
- “When you stop repenting, you stop calling others to repent” (Driscoll)
- “Men shouldn’t make their wives carry their curse” (Driscoll). Here he was talking about the need for men to provide for their families rather than make their wives carry the toil and burden of provision.
- “Jesus isn’t to blame for the church’s sin, but he takes responsibility for it. That’s what it means to be the head of the family” (Driscoll).
- “Is your wife flourishing?” (Driscoll)
Another significant lesson for me was that men who want to plant healthy, gospel-centered churches would be wise to spend time IN a healthy, gospel-centered church first. I met a number of men who were in bad church situations and had a vision for something different — but they’ve never seen it first hand. As a result, they really don’t know what it looks like to participate in a healthy church, let alone lead one. This made me so thankful for the amazing years I was able to spend at East Valley Bible Church participating in ministry and serving alongside healthy, godly leaders. I can’t imagine what church planting and leadership would be like without those men and without that experience.
Which of those lessons stand out to you? Any of them need clarification?