There is a cold, hard fact I remind myself of often as a Pastor. No one does more to determine the spiritual temperature of my church than me, the Pastor. It’s part of shepherding. I’m the lid. I’m the limit.
Here it is:
Ministry takes place when divine resources meet human needs through loving channels to the glory of God.
When I first moved back to northwest Arkansas to plant a church, not everyone understood. Even quite a few church leaders wondered why the neighborhood needed another church. But Nate Sweeney embraced us and has encouraged us all along the way. I so appreciate his ministry in northwest Arkansas, and I’m excited about the release of his first book, The Abiding Church.
Here’s some brutal honesty… entire movements have gone down in flames because of boneheaded approaches to good ideas. This isn’t to say we can’t afford to make mistakes. In fact, the only way to know we’re taking risks is to make mistakes. We can’t afford not to make them. But we also can’t afford to ignore timeless principles of leadership effectiveness.
Being loud doesn’t make you a leader. Neither does being popular. Leadership is influence, and influence means taking people in a direction they wouldn’t otherwise be going – hopefully forward. Ambition isn’t enough to qualify you to lead. There is more to the equation.
Ministry is a marathon. This is true for church leaders, for volunteers, and for the church body itself. When we drive and push people to sprint all the time, burnout is inevitable. You can grow a large church by constantly creating mountain peak experiences and pushing for the top. But you will create a healthy church only as you discover the appropriate cycle of moving forward at an aggressive pace, and taking moments to breathe.
Leadership is a hot topic with plenty of aspiring and hopeful people clamoring for success in its arena. But the reality is that it’s easier NOT to lead.
Some churches raise the bar when it comes to recruiting small group leaders. You need to be a member for X amount of time, well versed in the church’s doctrinal statement, agree to a lifestyle covenant, etc. The more qualified the leader, the stronger the group will be… or so goes conventional wisdom. But is that really true?
Always in the back of my mind is this thought, “Don’t be the factor holding back the growth of Grace Hills Church.” I believe in John Maxwell’s Law of the Lid. So if my leadership is sub-par, and I’m supposed to be at the head of the pack, where does that leave other leaders for whom I am responsible?
In the American church, we tend to think of leadership development as a classroom and curriculum-based process, but Jesus had a better idea: spend time with people. Jesus allowed His life to rub off on His chosen leaders and to pour His wisdom into them, and we can do the same. Sometimes it’s a matter of spotting the natural opportunities that come along while at other times, its an intentionally-planned conversation.