Tag Archive - encouragement

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2 Fatal Church Leadership Mistakes

When it comes to leading a church, there a lot of things that can go wrong that are outside of a pastor’s control. However, the other side of that coin is also true. There are a lot of wrong things that pastors do that are well within their control.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination. There are all kinds of things I’ve seen church leaders do to sabotage themselves. But the following two mistakes are so common and so easy to solve that I couldn’t help identifying them.

Choosing Availability over Competency

Churches are notorious for choosing the available person over taking the time to search for or develop a competent person. Just because someone shows up doesn’t mean they’ll show out. I’ve seen churches choose staff too many times based on convenience. They’ll elevate a volunteer to a staff role because they’re a faithful volunteer and great at doing ministry or delivering tasks on time. I hope you don’t mishear me, I am all for developing internal talent, in fact about 75% of the staff who work at Sun Valley (the church I have the privilege of serving at) have been developed and hired internally. Unfortunately, just because someone can deliver tasks on time doesn’t mean they can build a team and lead others to do the tasks of ministry. It’s one thing to lead by doing, it’s a completely other thing to be able to delegate tasks to others or empower them to make decisions. Churches are also guilty of over promoting young talent too quickly because they see “something special” in them instead of developing that young talent. Promoting and developing aren’t the same thing. While it’s certainly more convenient to choose someone who’s already around and available it doesn’t always prove to be the right move.

Being a Discourager instead of an Encourager

When a good team member does something wrong, nine times out of ten they already know it. Every once in a while, (that 1 time in 10) you may need to point it out. You may need to check in with them to make sure you’re both seeing the same thing the same way, but good team members don’t need over coaching. They don’t need someone to be harsh with them or pick and point out every little thing they did wrong. They need encouragement. They need someone to believe in them and help lift their attitude, because when you lift someone’s attitude you lift their performance. You can’t play a good game with a bad attitude. Here’s the thing, even a mediocre performing team member doesn’t get any better when you rub their nose in a mistake they made. Taking an over critical or harsh approach discourages people, lowers their performance, and it demotivates. Do that long enough and all you’ll have left on your team are low performers. As a leader your words carry incredible power and weight. Use them to build people up and move them in the right direction.

If you’re a church leader and you struggle with either of these two pitfalls the first step you need to take is be honest with yourself, then be honest with your team and apologize to them. Own it. Then change your approach. It’s within your power to change. You can do this!


Posted in Leadership

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It’s Time for the Church to take a Different Approach to Leadership Development

There are three prevailing thoughts about leadership development that I’ve been noticing in churches across the country.

First, churches are complaining that their leadership bench has become pretty thin. If God gave them a new opportunity they’re not sure they’ve got the leadership depth to say yes. I get this, I’ve also observed that the leadership bench in the American Church is becoming pretty thin. It really concerns me.

Second, churches are scouring the landscape for an off-the-shelf solution like a class or some curriculum that they can use to magically build a deeper leadership bench at their church. This one is frustrating for me. Yes, there are leadership principles that can be learned and content that can support leadership development but, when are churches going to wake up and learn that leadership development doesn’t happen in a classroom?

Finally, I’m seeing more and more churches hire young, inexperienced, and untrained staff members who attend and love their church but have no bible training or ministry experience. Then they basically throw them to the wolves and hope they’re going to somehow magically work out.

I think it’s time for churches to take a different approach to leadership development.

Optimism

You can’t play a good game with a bad attitude. It’s a true statement when I encourage my 10-year-old son with those words before a practice or game and it’s a true statement in church leadership. Your attitude is a small thing that makes a big difference and when it comes to leadership development in the church it can be the difference between you developing a deep bench or starving your church of good leadership. You’ll always find what you’re looking for and if you’re looking for deficiencies you’ll find them. A critical spirit is a guaranteed way to discourage and put a lid on growth in others. Leadership development is optimistic by its very nature, because you’re helping someone become something that they’ve never been before, and while blind belief won’t make them become a leader they’ll never become a leader if you don’t believe they will.

Encouragement

You’ve probably read about social experiments that have been done to test the correlation between expectations and performance. In one such study teachers were told that a group of students they had in their classroom had tested incredibly high at the beginning of the year. However, these teachers were duped. These students weren’t gifted, but the fact that the teachers believed they were influenced the way the teachers viewed and behaved towards the group of students. When tested at the end of the year the students that the teachers believed were gifted actually outperformed the rest of the class. Sometimes people behave the way you treat them. If you want to build leaders, then start treating them like leaders. Encourage them through your words, actions, attitude, and approach to become what they’re not.

Opportunity

The thing about leadership is you can’t learn it in a classroom. Leadership development is an immersive, hands on learning experience. To get better at it you’ve got to get reps. The first ministry leadership opportunity I ever had scared me to death. As a freshman in college my pastor asked me to teach a Jr. High Sunday School Class. He saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself and took a risk on a young guy. It paid off, and the next opportunity came along, and the next. That’s leadership development. You throw a young promising leader in the deep end of the pool and see if they can swim. If they don’t make it, you jump in, make sure they don’t drown, coach them up and give them another shot. If they do make it, you coach them up and throw them into a bigger pool.

Coaching

So, what do you do after you give a young promising leader an opportunity to have some responsibility? You coach them up. Coaching involves turning on the game tape and reviewing how things went. Great coaches reinforce what went well and redirect what didn’t. They start with reinforcement because they know that’s how consistent culture is built. What gets noticed and celebrated gets repeated. Then when it comes to parts of the project that didn’t go as well good coaches assume the best intent and redirect what went wrong.


Posted in Leadership

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Stupid things christians say

Some years ago after my family had gone through a relocation we hadn’t lived in the house for 15 minutes before we met our new next door neighbors, the Abbate Family. We would quickly learn about the loss of their son Luke, who was a sophmore at Harrison High School when he passed away 5 years ago as the result of being a passenger in tragic car wreck.

Before moving to Atlanta, we spent the previous year walking with some dear friends as their 5 year old daughter battled for her life against cancer. In fact I have previously blogged about the ongoing story of Kate McRae and her family.

More recently my family has been going through our own little mini-crisis, as out of the blue we discovered that we were going to be transitioning and have been looking for new job. Hardly comparable to the thought of potentially losing one of my children.

Through all of these moments and more what has amazed me is how inept so many Christians seem to be at expressing real heartfelt love and concern. I mean of all people who should know how to walk with and care for the hurting and the suffering it should be Christians right? I’m not saying they don’t care. And I’m not saying there haven’t been moments of genuine and at times even extravagant expressions of love poured out. But the reality is a sad majority of Christians honestly just don’t know what to do when others around them are going through crisis, and so they do nothing. Or worse they say something stupid. Here are my top 5:

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Posted in Family, Leadership