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:
“The poor will be with you always,” Jesus said, but I’m sure He could have added, "The stupid vision killers will pursue you always.”
Acknowledge But Don’t React
As much as we would love to send to some of these to Gitmo for vision espionage, we simply don’t have that authority … sadly. But if we give their voice weight, they will keep looking for opportunities to complain.
Naysayers and complainers don’t have a desire to help in what they say. They are looking for a platform that will hear them and respond. It makes them feel empowered.
I am asked constantly by young leaders, “How do you handle the responsibility of leading something like Catalyst?”
The reality is, anyone who leads a church, leads a company, leads a community, leads a nonprofit ministry, leads a team or even leads a family feels and knows the pressure of responsibility. And responsibility is part of leadership. Always.
You’ve heard this before: “You’re responsible for what happens. Don’t screw up!” Right! We hear this all the time from our parents, from our boss, from our boards, from our friends, from our spouses.
Leaders, if you’re frustrated at the level of your team or vendor’s performance, look no further than the mirror.
Only in very rare cases will a team perform better than the level of their leader. Why?
Because the leader sets the boundaries, deadlines and guidelines. The leader creates the culture and sets expectations. As a result, no matter how gifted or creative a team is, if the leader is incompetent, insecure or inexperienced, the team can only work within that framework.
Church leadership is difficult (in case you hadn’t already figured that out).
Some days it is easy to feel discouraged, to wonder why you work as hard as you do. Especially when you don’t receive the thanks you deserve. Especially when you don’t see the results you want. Especially when it’s been a long week or weekend—you’ve preached multiple services and tended to the needs of others, and even after all of that, you look around the room and wonder if it was enough.
Maybe you worry there are people you aren’t reaching, or maybe you see people hurting and don’t have the answers.