Tag Archive - lead up

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How Great Church Leaders Lead Up

Most young church leaders I talk to want to learn about how they grow as a leader, be more effective and gather a larger following. I love their zeal and ambition to go and do big things for God!

But one of the most overlooked leadership tactics that young church leaders need to learn is leading up. And this is one of the keys that separate good church leaders from great church leaders.

Great church leaders know that they’re responsible not only to lead those under their care, but also to lead their peers and perhaps most importantly those who are above them. Here’s a few ways they do that well.

#1 Expectation Management

No leader likes to be surprised. So, communicate early and often. Managing the expectations of your Lead Pastor is an essential tool for leading up. Scripture teaches us that, “hope deferred makes the heart grow sick.” In other words, when you mismanage the expectations of your leader you are actually leading their heart in a direction that will create disappointment, frustration, and even “sickness.” None of that is going to work out well for you. So, learn to set expectations for your leader and follow through on those expectations. They’ll love you for it.

#2 Bring Solutions to the Table

No leader wants to do your job for you, that’s why you’re there. Soliciting your Lead Pastor’s input can be helpful to learn their preferences or their style. And when you encounter something new or difficult and you really need their input and help, certainly go and get it. But I’d suggest leading with a couple of solutions to whatever it is you’re facing. This will let them know that you are solution oriented, that you take initiative, and you’re not just looking for someone to tell you what to do. This helps your leader know that they can trust you to think and make good decisions in the scope of ministry that you’re responsible for at your church.

#3 Support Publicly and Question Privately

No leader likes to be hit by, “friendly fire.” One of the fastest ways to lose trust the opportunity to privately influence your leader is to not support them publicly. Appropriately disagree all you want behind closed doors, that’s part of the process of getting to good decisions organizationally. But once the decision is made you’ve got to be 100% committed to it. When Church Members (or other Staff Members) complain to you, you cannot respond by saying, “I can see how you feel that way,” unless you redirect from there. You can’t in any way validate their criticism or they’ll think that you agree with them and it will lead to divisiveness in the Church. Someone in the Body will end up saying, “Well I spoke to so and so, who is on Staff and they don’t agree with it either.” When that happens there is division in the Body and the Enemy wins. And by the way, eventually you’ll lose.

#4 Carry the Vision

No leader wants to carry the vision alone. Leaders and Pastors that have to carry the vision alone lose. Most churches never reach their full potential because the vision ends up somehow being relegated to just one person. This limits everything because vision cannot be sustained through only one person. It has to be embraced and carried forward by everyone on the team. Your Lead Pastor can’t be the only one talking about the vision. When it comes to casting vision your Lead Pastor is looking for you to embrace, own, contextualize, and communicate the vision of the Church in the area of responsibility that has been entrusted into your care. You may not be the vision caster in the church, but make no mistake about it, you are a vision carrier. A great daily question to ask yourself is: “What did I do today to cast vision for the Church?”


Posted in Leadership