Tag Archive - opportunity

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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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3 Things that will Prevent you from Being a Learner

The most likely cause that you’ll hit a lid in your leadership growth will be self-imposed. It’s possible that you can be the lid to your own growth. Every good leader knows that if you want to be a leader you have to be a learner. But you can’t be a learner if you:

1. You Can’t be a Learner if you Miss Opportunities

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. You can’t be a learner if you don’t try. Experience can be your best teacher if you’ll choose to learn from it. But without attempting new things and putting yourself in a position to learn you never will.

2. You Can’t be a Learner if you Refuse to Listen

Every great learner is a great listener. Learners ask for feedback and then they listen. Anyone who refuses to listen to feedback is doomed to fail and will prevent themselves from being a learner.

3. You Can’t be a Learner if you don’t Evaluate

If you don’t learn to conduct an autopsy without blame, you’ll prevent yourself from being a learner. What do you need to continue, change, clarify or create? What do you need to preserve and what do you need to pivot away from? Learners are constantly evaluating and improving.


Posted in Leadership

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How to Say No to Ministry Opportunities and Why You Should

As the ministry you’re a part of grows, you’re going to have more opportunities available to you. Good opportunities. Some of them great opportunities. But just because you’re given some great opportunities doesn’t mean they’re the right opportunities.

One of the more difficult things you’ll ever do as a leader of a growing church or organization is to learn to say no to good opportunities.

Does it get you Closer to the Vision?

The clearer your vision the easier it is to say yes…or no, to new opportunities. The first question you need to ask yourself when presented with a new opportunity is, “Does this get us closer to the vision that God has given us?”

Is it an Upgrade?

It’s not enough for it to simply be better. The real question is if you say yes to this opportunity will ti be significantly better? Is it a serious upgrade? Will everything get better if you say yes to this opportunity? Is the return much greater than the investment?

Does it Create Competition?

Would saying yes to this new opportunity create competition? Would you be creating competing systems that cannibalize resources and actually become a limiting factor to future success? If you say yes to this new opportunity what are you saying “no” to?

Does it Overextend You?

By saying yes to this opportunity will you overextend yourself? Will you overextend your HR capacity, facilities, volunteer teams, financial margin, or systems and structures? Are you willing to live with yourself if it all goes wrong? Is it worth it?

Is it Worth it?

As church leaders our job isn’t to keep shareholders happy or keep a strong bottom line. The ROI (return on investment) we’re tasked with is “life change.” Will more lives be changed through the Gospel if you say yes to this opportunity?


Posted in Leadership

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The Power of Showing Up

There is incredible power in simply showing up. This is true in parenting, it’s true in coaching, it’s true in teaching, and it’s true in leadership. Over the years I’ve observed many church leaders who overestimate the potential of a pivotal moment and underestimate the power of faithfully showing up every day. When you show up daily, your leadership ends up showing up over time.

While there are some moments in leadership that matter more than others, one of the things that separates good leaders from great leaders is that they show up and approach every moment with the same vigor. So here are 5 principles of how great leaders show up every day:

Moments are more important than a Moment

Your most meaningful relationships, trust, culture, and influence. While all of them can be destroyed in a moment, none of them are built in a moment but in a series of moments over an extended period of time.

Follow Through

Never underestimate the power of following through and doing what you said you were going to do. Delivering on time and on target on mundane everyday deliverables will take you further than you think.

Missed Opportunities

Leadership can be a lot like sports and life; you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Most opportunities are missed in life because people don’t show up and take them.

The Next Right Thing

Sometimes you need to stop worrying about the next big thing and just do the next right thing. It may be less glamorous, it may seem like it won’t get you as far as fast as you want to go, but it will help you build the necessary character, discipline, and practices that will get you there.

Faithfulness

Be faithful with what you’ve been given and you’ll probably be given more. If you’re familiar with the Bible you’re probably familiar with this principle. Don’t underestimate the power and faithfulness that comes from showing up every day.


Posted in Leadership, Spiritual Formation, Staffing

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Why the Key to Flexibility in Leadership is Planning

A good plan that can’t be changed is a bad plan. If you’re inflexible you’re going to find executing a plan to be nearly impossible. No matter how much preparation you put into it there are still going to be unforeseen obstacles. You may find you have the wrong leader executing the plan. You may have underestimated the resources required to execute the plan. Or you may overestimate the pace at which the plan can be properly executed.

But make no mistake about it; planning is the key to flexibility in leadership. Without it you become stuck on the treadmill of what’s urgent instead of what’s important or worse the organization is constantly trying to change direction to keep up with the short attention span of an entrepreneurial leader.

Planning affords you the opportunity to be flexible

When you plan your work and work your plan you position yourself and the organization you’re leading to lead from a position of strength instead of weakness. Leading from this position of strength affords you the opportunity to be flexible. Organizations that don’t plan well create the illusion of flexibility and an “organic process,” while the reality is they’re usually struggling just to keep their heads above water.

Planning creates margin for innovation

Innovation requires the right environment to take place. It takes smart people, an infusion of resources, time, the right amount of pressure, and a problem to solve. Organizations that don’t plan well don’t have the time, resources, or people to allocate towards innovation because they’re always running to the next thing or trying to stay afloat.

Planning allows you to respond to opportunities

Preparation for contingencies is a part of good planning. Providing the people in your organization a clear picture of the future and a plan to get there actually provides you the luxury to leverage and take advantage of opportunities when they come along because you can filter each opportunity through the lens of the destination and the plan. Does the opportunity fit our destination? Does this opportunity speed up our plan?

Few churches have a great planning process. Most don’t even have a good planning process, if they have a process at all. I’m not sure why this isn’t a bigger priority. Planning is certainly biblical. I don’t find many pastors who would really take aim at that fact. You’d have to throw out a lot of Proverbs, if you decided to.

Everyone likes to talk about stewardship and the stewardship of Kingdom resources, which involves a lot of wisdom and planning. So, if I have to put it in this context, learning a great planning process is good stewardship of Kingdom resources.

At the Unstuck Group we’ve been helping churches with strategic planning for quite a few years now, and we’ve seen a lot of what works and what doesn’t. We believe in the process the team at The Unstuck Group uses. It’s a proven process that produces results. You should really check it out!


Posted in Leadership
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