What do the people you lead need from you?
That's a good question you could ask this way:
"What do my people need, and where do I need to lead?"
They're not "your" people, I know. They are God's people, but God has placed a group of people under the scope of your care and responsibility. In that way, they are your people. In fact, because of the love and care we as leaders feel for the people we serve, we often see the congregation as family.
And you always want what's best for family.
So back to the questions:
What does the family need?
Where does God want me to lead?
2020 has been a challenging year, but God is definitely still with us. And it's our job to lead the way into 2021 with hope and faith. We're coming into the holidays, which is awesome, but that's often more work—not less—for church leaders. So how do you get ready for 2021 in such a busy time of the year?
Start now, and start with you.
Visions, strategies, teams and execution are all important, even mission-critical. But without you, it doesn't work.
2021 will arrive with its own set of challenges, and the more prepared you are, the better you will live and lead. Why not be just as determined to enjoy 2021?
7 Essentials Your Church Needs From You in 2021
At a quick glance, this may appear like another list of things to do. But it's far more about who you are and how you live than a list of what to do.
1. Your church needs you to be rested and healthy.
You can't give, serve and lead if you are on empty. It's important to figure out the best kind of rest for your mind and body, especially because it's been under sustained stress through a crazy year. We know a good night's sleep is critical for your well-being, but do you know if rising early or a little more sleep is best for you? What about some peaceful background sound or complete quiet? How about the temperature of the room? It's not necessarily about extra sleep; it's about enough sleep for you in the most optimal environment you can create in your home.
The key question is when you awake, do you feel refreshed?
What you eat and your level of activity and exercise in combination with time to laugh and play rounds out a well-rested and healthy body.
2. Your church needs you to be less anxious and more hopeful.
You may be the most relaxed person on the planet, but I don't know how you could lead this year without some level of elevated anxiousness. There is so much uncertainty with so much at stake. A year like this one triggers for leaders many fears and insecurities you thought you overcame years ago. How are you doing? The interesting thing is that it's not necessarily a higher level of stress, anxiety, fear or insecurity; it's the prolonged nature. As I've recently written about, trading fears for hope and trading anxiousness for faith-filled optimism require that you focus on something bigger than you. For a leader, that is typically the vision and purpose of your church. It's often true that when you focus on small things or focus on yourself, your world shrinks.
The more your thoughts, passion and actions are devoted to helping others, the larger your world becomes.
3. Your church needs you to fight the right battles.
There has been an endless array of problems, division and anger within the current culture.
You may want to solve it all, but you can't. You may receive pressure from the people you lead to solve certain issues that are urgent to them, but you can't make everyone happy. You are responsible for fighting battles (solve problems), but you need clarity about which battles God wants you to handle. You also must learn to let the ones go that He has designed for someone else to handle. That's tough, I know, but that's the only way you can successfully lead.
What burden tugs most on your heart? What do you sense God saying to you? What does your church board or supervisor affirm in you?
4. Your church needs you to live the message before you teach it.
Living out the message is not about perfection; it speaks to authenticity and integrity.
The people you lead need to know you are real and that you walk the talk with consistent character. Be open with those close to you about temptations and challenges. That increases trust. Many years ago, there was a season as a young pastor that God wouldn't let me speak or preach on the subject of prayer. The reason was simple; my prayer life wasn't as strong as it needed to be. God wanted me closer and more connected to the promptings of His Spirit.
Integrity is not about a legalistic sense of performance or perfection; it's about a pure heart before God.
5. Your church needs you to have the margin to love them.
If your emotions have been running in overdrive, your mind racing to solve problems and your body fatigued, you have lost some key margin you need to love and lead others.
Are you running from meeting to meeting? Is your temper short? Do you laugh less than you used to? Are you more stressed than usual? Does it seem tougher than normal to solve problems? You haven't done anything wrong; you simply have lived through 2020.
Maybe that's the first battle you need to fight.
Fight to gain some margin back. The result of leading in 2020 is that you may possess less than enough emotional fuel, have a shortage of intellectual energy or lack enough time to care for the people you love the most. Get tough with your calendar. Rework it. I run a crazy full calendar, but from Thanksgiving to the end of the year, I'm going to fight to gain a little margin back.
How about you?
6. Your church needs you to be courageous.
Courage is in the soul of every effective leader. Regardless of your leadership position, you need the courage to make decisions—not decisions that make people happy but that move them toward God and toward a better future.
Courage isn't automatic. It's a progression of soul-level qualities within you that begin with humility. The order is humility, gratitude, generosity, security and then courage.
For now, ask yourself if there is anything you know you need to do but are reluctant or even fearful to do. Begin to ask God to grant you the courage to do what you must.
7. Your church needs you to think and pray.
You must invest time in thought and prayer in order to answer the second question we began with: "Where does God want me to lead the people?"
Start by asking questions like:
—What direction are we to go?
—What is the specific vision you have for us, God?
—What problems do you want me to solve?
—Is there anything you want me to change?
—What are the insights I'm going to need?
This isn't something that is easily done between Christmas and New Year. Start now so you can soak and think rather than rushing and maybe missing the voice of God.
This article first appeared at danreiland.com.
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