Leadership—Are You Doing it Wrong?

Perhaps in times past it was enough to give people a place to work, provide job description parameters, and some system of accountability to make sure they were getting things done.

I believe those days are over.

And it’s our own fault.

We have taught people that God has a plan for their lives. We have encouraged people to pursue their passions. We have discipled people to believe that their talents matter to the Kingdom of God.

If we do not then follow through and assist people in finding and living out those passions, they get frustrated. Disappointed.

What we are saying does not match the systems we have set up.

My friend C. describes the goal of where we all want to get to as convergence– the place of effortless fruitfulness of living in the fullness of all God created you to beIt’s about rowing downstream (who you are created to be) with God’s current (your Kingdom assignment)
It is Joseph flourishing in the palace having been shaped by the journey to get there—both in development of skill and in ironing out his sinful rough edges.

All this leadership talk we have as a church keeps us so focused on explaining and maximizing the vision, we have forgotten the true calling of a leader—to lead others to convergence.

My friend B. says that where your gifting and talent intersect with the needs you see around you, that is your God-given assignment. Her goal is to help people discover that and then help them discover the courage to live it out.

But those ideas are not my main thought. Though they support it.
As church leaders, we need to stop seeing our jobs as placing people into the right slots of our organization so that we can fulfill our vision and start seeing our jobs as releasing people into their right slot in the Kingdom even while they are still working for us!

I’m going to swing the hammer 11 times. Hopefully, I’ll hit the nail at least once.

11 thoughts

1. In my role as a staff middle manager, how can I help identify and then guide people into experiencing all God has for them; into experiencing the perfect match of their talent and gifting and their passions?

The highest calling of leadership is to unlock the potential of others.
Carly Fiorina

2. If true leadership is focused on others and helping them, that means true leadership is not about convincing others to focus on me and help me flourish.

3. I believe it’s not enough for a church to have a clear vision and a clear goal. We must also help staff move into their God-given, personal visions and goals.

4. It may sound scary because we will invest time, energy, resource only to have them potentially leave. The goal must be for everyone to move into the more that God has for them. Not more possessions or even more responsibilities, but the more of all they can be. Moving may require leaving, but not necessarily.

5. [Hmm. I need a qualifier.] Success does not mean bigger and better. Success—helping people flourish—means helping people be all God made them to be. Since work is at least third on the list of priorities (God, family, job), flourishing has less to do with vocation and more to do with who we are.

What’s worse than training a team member only to have them leave the organization?
Not training them, and they stay!

6. It is not enough for churches to give people a place to work to help the church succeed. We must be providing a place where they can succeed independently from the specific mission of the church. Or said better, who our staff are uniquely created to be is the specific mission of our church.

7. Why is it that secular (not a great word) organizations understand this, but the church, as a general rule, ignores the entire concept of staff development?

As leaders, we are never responsible for filling anyone’s cup.
Our responsibility is to empty ours. (p11)
Deep and Wide Andy Stanley

8. True leadership is about using our platform and influence to give others an opportunity to empty their cup. If that’s not your calling, you are not qualified for leadership in the Kingdom.

9. Do people have to leave our organizations to begin to experience their destinies or are we making a place for them to experience it now, with us?

10. If we really believe leadership is about helping others flourish, then we will develop our people; spend most of our time and effort to help them birth what God is stirring in their lives; release them to empty their cup.

11. As a church leader, if you are so focused on living the vision God has placed in you that you do not even know the vision God is placing in your staff, you’re doing it backwards.

Perhaps in times past it was enough to give people a place to work, provide job description parameters, and some system of accountability to make sure they were getting things done.

I believe those days are over.

The sooner we realize it, the better.


4 thoughts on “Leadership—Are You Doing it Wrong?

  1. Ouch… #11 is like a hot poker in the eye!

    As I am sure you can assume, I would agree with your assessment.
    My only thought to add is that I, with my whole being, believe that if leaders in any organization would honor the concept that you are trying to express God would perfectly align the right emerging leaders with the organizational vision so Minion A’s developing vision and calling will enhance and profoundly bless the vision of his vocation which in turn makes life and ministry better for all.
    God will always place the right people in the right place at the right time for the right reasons.

  2. Mike, this idea of leaders equipping people to live out their God given assignments-no strings attached, is so foreign to the church at large. I’ve worked at churches where all they seem to care about was how you were bringing the Pastor’s vision to pass. Never once did I feel like anyone really cared about what God was doing in my life, or if I was even a good fit in the area where I was working. Thanks again for helping us as believers to live life outside the box!

  3. Mike – Thank you for capturing shared thoughts, beliefs and experiences in this article. It really shouldn’t be so hard to get it right yet, these truths seem to have been ignored. It is as if the church/leaders have made what should be recognized as abnormal an actual normal and acceptable way of life. It is as if the church/leaders (not all) have been walking on their hands rather than upright and on the feet of Kingdom truths found in scripture. Imagine how effective the church would be if we could only get this right.

    Thank you,
    S. Wilson

  4. I’m mentally hitting the like button 100 times and it only took one read. 🙂 thanks for sharing. You are very gifted with words.

    Sent from my iPhone

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