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10 Keys to Guarding the Gate to your Sr. Leadership Team

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So who gets to be on the Sr. Leadership Team at your church? Is it based on who’s been there the longest? Is it based on who has the “in” and best relationship with the Sr. Pastor? Is it done, like Congress, by ministry representation so every ministry is represented? While all those things aren’t bad things in and of themselves, they aren’t necessarily strategic. And they certainly won’t move you any closer to accomplishing the vision that God has for your church. Here are 10 characteristics that you should be looking for when you’re thinking about adding someone to your Sr. Leadership Team.

1. Big-Picture Thinking

They think about the church before they think about their ministry. They understand that everything affects everything. If I’ve got a Youth Pastor who Youth Ministry is their first filter, they can’t be on the Sr. Leadership Team. The church has to be the primary filter before any one ministry.

2. Strategic

They naturally think about steps, movement, and alignment to vision. They’re strategic about how to get from here to there. They have a leadership intuition and can appreciate and move back and forth between the art and science of leadership even though they have a natural bias for one or the other.

3. Leadership

They have a leadership gift. While leadership skills can be coached and developed, the Scriptures are clear that leadership at its essence is a gift from God. I hate to burst your bubble, but everyone isn’t a leader.

4. Vision

They’re a stakeholder and vision carrier in your organization. They don’t allow the vision to be relegated to just the Sr. Pastor. They’re constantly asking themselves, “What did I do today to advance the vision of the church?”

5. Culture

They embody the culture of your church, or the culture you’re trying to create in your church. They embrace and live out the unique values of your church in their personal life not just their work life.

6. Team Builder

People are already following them. They have the ability to attract, recruit and develop teams of people to accomplish things that no one person could do alone. They are already moving people in a coordinated effort towards a destination. They don’t simply delegate tasks they empower people.

7. Execution

They actually get stuff done. They have demonstrated the ability to turn ideas into reality. They communicate action steps clearly, meet deadlines, and deliver on their promises. I’ve got to trust this person. I’ve got to know if I pass them the ball they’re going to catch it, turn up field and get a first down.

8. Likability

I put this one on the list at the risk of sounding shallow, but I’ve got to actually like the people that I’m leading with. If they don’t pass the “I like you” test, it’s not happening. Highly talented people can mess up a locker room if there’s not good chemistry between them and the rest of the team.

9. Biblical Requirement

They’ve got to meet the Biblical requirements for pastoral leadership. After all we’re not building a corporation, we’re shepherding the body of Christ. What we are doing is intrinsically spiritual and those leading the church need to meet the spiritual requirements to sit in that seat.

10. Humility

Humility is the context in which all the other fruit of the spirit thrive. They must have a teachable spirit and be a life-long learner. They need to be able to lead with the right questions, not just the right answers. Humility provides a pathway to access the true person and essentially is linked to trust. And the best Sr. Leadership Teams run on trust.

Interested about learning more about Sr. Leadership Teams? Check out my interview with Tony Morgan about his book “Take the Lid Off Your Church: 6 Steps to Building a Healthy Sr. Leadership Team”

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Posted in Leadership, Staffing

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Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul

Lance Witt served 20 years as a senior pastor and five years as the executive pastor at Saddleback Church with Rick Warren. A couple of years ago Lance released his book Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul. It’s a great book for church leaders. It’s so good, in fact, that we have our Leadership Coaching Networks at the Unstuck Group read it for the conversation we have about personal health. If you’re in ministry, I strongly encourage you to order this book today, you won’t regret it. Here are a couple of key ideas that stood out to me.

“We have neglected the fact that a pastor’s greatest leadership tool is a healthy soul.”

#1 Outward Success

Outward success in a church is easy to measure. The number of first time guests, people who say yes to Jesus, baptisms, people in small group bible studies, people volunteering, giving, weekend attendance and so on can (and should be) be measured. When those numbers are up and to the right there is a perception of success. After all who doesn’t want to see all of those metrics I just mentioned growing in their church? These are good things. But while numbers tell a part of the story, they don’t tell the whole story.

#2 Self-Deception

When things are going well it’s easy to believe our press clippings and give ourselves more credit than we actually deserve. We’ve all seen this happen in superstar athletes, high-powered business leaders and yes-even pastors. While there is certainly some credit that should be given due to exceptional performance and results the temptation is to deceive ourselves into believing that we are the cause of the success; that without us, success would not be reached. Be careful of self-deception and pride, the Scriptures say it precedes a fall.

#3 Neglect your Soul

Let’s be honest, it feels good to succeed. It feels good to see progress. It feels good when you hear people telling you what a good sermon you preached or what a good job you’re going leading the church. It feels good. But it’s possible to chase that feeling at the neglect of your own soul. It’s possible to fall more in love with church growth than the church. It’s possible to run to the Scriptures more frequently to find a sermon to preach than to personally spend time with God and hear his voice. It’s possible to neglect your own soul while doing soul work.

#4 Relational Isolation

Relational isolation is a choice. You’re as lonely as you want to be.

In his book Leading on Empty author Wayne Cordiero puts it this way: “Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.”

When we experience numerical success in our church, chose to believe our press clippings, pursue more success in ministry at the neglect of our own souls, and get ourselves in a place where we are lonely we have followed a recipe that leads to the downfall of our lives and the ministry that the Lord has entrusted to us.

“Having talked to some whose ministry has come crashing down around them, I can tell you the convergence of outward success, self-deception, soul neglect, and relational isolation creates the perfect storm for disaster”


Posted in Spiritual Formation

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Why there is no Leadership without Loss

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The leadership secret that no one is telling you about? There is no leadership without loss. It may not be popular, but it is absolutely take it to the bank true. Most people mistakenly believe that gaining leadership is all about gaining more power, gaining a more influential position, and gaining more prestige and popularity. But leaders who lead at the highest levels know there is no going up, without giving up. And the higher you go in leadership, the more you have to be willing to lose. In fact here are 3 big things that leaders lose the higher they go in leadership.

#1 Preference

The best leaders I’ve been around ask what’s best for the organization, not what’s best for themselves. And then they defer their preference for the performance of the organization.

#2 Rights

The best leaders willingly give up their rights in exchange for responsibility.

#3 Control

Great leaders are able to recruit and keep other incredible leaders at the table because they’re willing to give up control. They’re willing to share leadership and allow others to lead in their area of brilliance.

Jesus put it this way: If you want to gain your life, you have to lose itif you want to be first, you have to be last.

What else would you add to the list? Leave a comment!

Want to learn more about the connection between loss and leadership? Check out 10 Things you Lose when your Church Grows

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Posted in Leadership

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6 Things I Bet You Don’t Know about Your Pastor’s Wife

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One of the least thought about people in the church today is a Pastor’s wife. While leaders get all the attention and accolades their families and private lives are thought of very little by the public. In fact in a moment in church history where we are inundated with volumes of leadership ideas and training very little is written about pastor’s wives. I recently sat down with Lisa, my wife, and asked her about her experience being married to a full-time pastor for the past 18+ years. Here is some of what she had to say…

1. Every Criticism of the Church is a Criticism of my Husband

Whenever people complain about the church, I feel like they’re complaining about my husband. After all every criticism of leadership is ultimately a criticism of my husband. It could be a sermon series they don’t like, a new building project they don’t agree with, services times, parking, the music being too loud, Children’s Ministry, a staff member they don’t like…on and on the list can go.

2. I wish my Kids were treated like Every other Kid at Church

I wish my kids were treated with the same love, grace and enthusiasm that every other kid was treated with at church. It goes both ways. They either receive preferential treatment because they’re the pastor’s kid or they’re overly criticized for every peep they make in church. They deserve to have the same experience that every other kid who walks in those doors has. I want my kids to grow up to love Jesus and the church not feel criticized by it.

3. Sundays are the most Difficult Day of the Week

I wake up and get the kids ready alone. We go to church alone. I check my kids into children’s ministry alone. I sit in church alone. I come home alone. And when my husband comes home from church, he’s tired because he’s given his all to serve the church that day. It’s tough, because my kids are off from school 2 days a week, and one of those days is a workday for dad.

4. I don’t Always want to be in a Bible Study

There’s this unspoken (and sometimes spoken) expectation that if you’re a pastor’s wife that every time the church is open you should be there and leading in some capacity. Sometimes I just want to volunteer in my kids school and in the community and be outside the 4 walls of the church around people who are far from Jesus. Don’t’ get me wrong, we’re in a small group with other Believers and love it. It’s just sometimes I don’t want to be around Christians, I want to be around people who are far from Jesus, because that’s who Jesus came for

5. Holidays are Lonely

In other words Christmas and Easter. They’re Super Bowl moments for the church. They’re 2 of the most likely times when people will come to church each year. So when everyone else is hanging with family and celebrating holidays together, my husband is at church. We don’t get to travel and be with family. We don’t get to be together on Christmas Eve.

6. I’m not Married to Jesus, my Husband is Human

Believe it or not my husband is not always the same guy that everyone sees on stage. There’s times he’s grumpy, tired, impatient with the kids, and selfish. He has bad days just like everyone else. And he’s not walking around spouting off scripture all hours of the day. We have arguments just like every other couple. Contrary to popular belief he’s human just like every other guy.

Before you think I hate being a Pastor’s Wife: Every wife has things she likes and dislikes about her husbands job, no matter what he does for a career. But it seems like a lot of people think that a pastor’s job is a cakewalk, and that he only works on Sundays. No, he’s not traveling 40% of the nights each month like a lot of men in business world. No he doesn’t commute an hour to work each way, and he doesn’t work 3rd shift. Even though being married to a pastor is not as easy as you may think, it does however have it’s own unique set of blessings. It’s an incredible privilege to be a small part of leading a church. It’s no small thing that people would trust me and that I would have the opportunity to help shepherd and care for people, and see people take ground in their relationship with Jesus. And there is a real sense that I have a huge extended family in the body of Christ. There really are some really sweet people in the church that help take care of my family and me. They minister to us as much as we minister to them. It may not always be easy, but it’s worth it.

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Posted in Family, Leadership

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3 Challenges that Every Young Leader Faces

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Young leaders face all kinds of challenges. But there are 3 challenges in particular that all young leaders face early on. If not handled well these three challenges can lead to stress, anxiety, insecurity and frustration. Add all of that up and you’ve got a recipe designed to not only undermine your current leadership role but keep you from growing as a leader.

1. Leading People who are Older than You

It can be very intimidating as a young leader to be given the task to lead people who are the age of your parents or grandparents. The Apostle Paul understood this leadership challenge when he wrote to a young leader by the name of Timothy:

“Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” I Timothy 4:12

Paul challenges Timothy to realize that he is personally responsible for how he behaves as a young leader regardless of what others may think. That he is responsible for what happens in him as a young leader, regardless of what is happening to him. The best approach I’ve seen young leaders take is to take on a posture of humility and then deliver on what they say they are going to do. In other words, produce. Let your play on the field do your talking for you. There is no faster way to earn respect and trust than to do what you say you’re going to do, follow through, and show yourself trustworthy.

2. A Shallow Leadership Well

Often young leaders don’t know what to do because they haven’t done it before. Leadership isn’t learned in a classroom it’s learned by leading. The unfortunate thing is young leaders come with an inherent lack of experience. And the only way to get leadership experience is to lead. But you can deepen your leadership well and, “go to school,” so to speak on others experience. Listening to leadership podcasts, reading blogs on leadership, reading books on leadership, getting in a leadership coaching network, surrounding yourself with other leaders, get face-time with experienced leaders ask questions and then just listen. Get as much “leadership” poured into you as you can as a young leader. These are all things you can do as a young leader to deepen your leadership well.

3. Impatience

Young leaders simply don’t have enough “time in” to understand the value of timing. I get it. I too used to get frustrated about the whole, “finding joy in the journey,” thing. I wanted to make a first down, score a touchdown and win! There’s nothing wrong with ambition, a love for progress, and a deep desire to move people from where they are to where you know God wants them to be. But the right decision, at the right time, executed right way; by the right person is the right thing. Impatience has a tendency to mess all that up.

Interested in learning more about Young Leaders in the Church? Check out these resources:

1. How to Identify Young Leaders in the Church

2. How to Develop Young Leaders

3. Leadership Lessons I Wish I Understood as a Young Leader

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Posted in Leadership
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