A New Definition of Leadership

Before we get started, it may be good idea to explore what we are talking about. Some people do not like the word leadership in reference to Christians. After all, we should be servants. While that is true, the Bible uses the word leader to talk about people serving the church body. What is leadership?

1 Tim 3:1 — “Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer desires a noble task.”
Being an overseer is noble, not inherently wrong.

Heb 13:7 — “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
Here leaders are spoken of highly and considered a model for behavior.

Rom 12:6–8 — “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.”
Here leadership is listed as a gift given by God. They are admonished to lead diligently.

1 Tim 5:17 —  “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.”
Those who lead, and do it well, are worthy of good pay and respect.

Mark 10:42–45 — Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Here the kind of leadership is emphasized, but not the negation of leadership. We are to look like Jesus and serve others. That is how we lead.

I would contend that it is always right to examine ourselves and question whether what we are doing is right and just and of God. Although there are many examples of failure all around us, I am more interested in scripture holding up a mirror to my soul and being honest about what I see there. Things should look like the Kingdom of God inside of me and inside of the church. Too often they look similar to what is going on around us in culture. Leadership in my mind simply means those going first and out front, and if we couple that with a culturally-informed, conquering, superiority mindset, we get into all sorts of trouble.

Keep thinking! Continue Reading,

The Business of Church Part 5

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What do you think is the way that God intends for the church to make disciples?
Can you state it clearly in a sentence?
What is the goal of your church and what are you doing to reach that goal?

When you answer these questions, you are revealing strategy.

If you are going to lead people from one place to another, by definition, you have a strategy. You must know where you are starting from and know where you are going and how you are going to move from one place to the other. Even if your plan is to just flow with the Spirit, you still have a strategy, albeit a very fluid one.

A strategy is a plan of action or policy designed to achieve a major or overall aim.
In ministry, our mission is to make disciples and teach them to become mature followers of Christ who then make more disciples. All of our ideas about what we could do should point towards this ultimate goal.

I love talking strategy. Buckle up. This is my longest post to date.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.

The Business of Church Part 4

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All of us appreciate visionary leadership, and we have all been greatly affected by it. Whether our visionary leaders are historic figures, great authors, caring teachers, parents, or bosses; we appreciate someone who exposes us to a better, new way of living. In the classic example, they tell us, “You can’t stay here. There’s something better available. Here’s how things could be. This is who you can become.”

This seems obvious to me: if you are not calling people to something different, you aren’t leading. In a word, leadership is change. Strategy is important. It tells us how we are going to get there, but fundamentally, visionary leadership always includes change.

If leadership is change, the greatest most important leadership lesson, then, is to create an environment where change is expected and embraced as natural. Would any of us describe the average church this way? From updating decor to outdated programs, the last words we would use to describe church is expecting and embracing change.

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The NO Conundrum

“The art of leadership is saying no, not yes. It is very easy to say yes.”
Tony Blair

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully.”
Steve Jobs

Like everyone else, I have found it easier to say yes—and avoid the relationship turmoil—than to say no (At least, if you care about the person). Consistently making these hard calls is the make or break leadership lesson we all face.

But I also recognize that our culture values the leader who doesn’t take no for an answer.
There is definitely a tension between being a leader who says no, and being a leader who accepts no. Culturally, we embrace one and reject the other.
When the vision is clear, we say no to anything that dilutes our focus.
When the vision is clear, we work any angle we can to avoid a no that stands in the way of our goal.
Accepting no is viewed as weak and quitting.
Saying no is viewed as strong and focused.

Just this past week, I had to walk through two situations where I had to tell people no. Their responses illustrate this tension very well. And though this tension may be real, I wonder if we have thought through the consequences of our actions.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.