In “churchworld” there is a lot of mimicking that goes on. So instead of throwing out another “success story” for people to chase I’m learning that often stopping to diagnose and share mistakes can be much more powerful…and helpful. This post came in at number 6 this year…and yes I’ve learned these lessons the hard way.
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