“They have eyes, and yet they don’t see.”
Many leaders don’t see the fruit that is about to manifest in those around them. All they can see is the tree. A tree can look strong, weak, ugly or handsome, but that’s just the tree. The real test is what will it put forth.
Especially in a small town, I’ve found there are three kinds of people (trees) that I have to constantly be on the lookout for in order for our church to go where God intends it to go. They are:
Leadership is hard and every decision a leader makes is subject to opinion—lots of different opinions. Every hard decision a leader makes excites some and upsets others. At the same time, most of us who have positions of leadership want people to like us personally and in our role as a leader.
That leads many leaders into becoming victims of people pleasing. When we fall prey to pleasing people as a goal, we seldom lead people into what is best and are led more by opinion polls than vision.
Every pastor and leader I know agrees that people pleasing is not a good quality for a leader. Talking with hundreds of pastors every year, however, I’d have to say that this has to be one of the most frequent weaknesses pastors admit to me. For the pastor, when our aim is to please people, many times we are motivated more by what people want than even what God wants for the church. That’s dangerous. Hopefully I don’t have to build that case.
Did you know there is a very common word that is used in our culture that you cannot find in the Bible? It is the word competition. Jesus never talked about it, but He did talk about the opposite of that word.
What is the greatest catalyst that allows the unsaved to make a decision for Jesus Christ? It isn’t prayer, though this is important. It isn’t good deeds, though deeds indicate a fruitful relationship with God. It isn’t good behavior, though Christ commands us to be obedient as sons.
There is a counterintuitive marketing concept that we, as pastors, should spend some time contemplating: “If you try to reach everyone, you’ll reach no one.”
When you are promoting an event or sermon series, who is your target audience? Are you focused on a 35-year-old man who works in construction and has two kids, or are you focused on all men who might possibly see your sign or know someone who does?
When you focus your advertising (announcement) on a particular target audience instead of trying to reach everyone possible, you create energy and momentum.
Many times, as leaders, we are blindfolded by the experience we have gained over the years. We assume everyone knows what we know, but we forget what we once didn’t know.
I feel what I’m writing is elementary in the field of leadership. But what is elementary to one is high school or even college to others.
I’m not at all saying you can stop learning. That’s a dangerous thing for a leader to ever do. I’m saying to be conscious of the fact that if you are a leader, chances are you’ve learned a few things along the way to getting where you are today.
The local church should be a Holy Spirit training outpost for equipping God’s people to be kingdom warriors of love and servanthood on earth and to destroy the works of darkness. Instead, the local church is often operating more like a cruise ship instead of a battleship designed to equip an army.
I first met pastor Fred Hartley about five years ago when I was invited to be on a city transformation leadership team in Atlanta. Fred pastors a midsize congregation in a suburb of Atlanta and is also the founder of the College of Prayer, an international equipping ministry. Fred has written several books on prayer. He knew little about my work, but as we began getting to know one another, he took more of an interest in what I did. I shared a few of my books with him, but it was almost two years before Fred caught what I was doing and how it could impact his own local congregation. He wrote me this letter: