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,

Your Vision is the Problem

I am bombarded with talk about vision. Both on a macro level and filtering down to the level of individual technical directors and tech teams, we can’t seem to get enough vision — What’s your vision for your team? Where’s your vision statement?

This is a problem. Here’s my case.

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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.

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.

Keep thinking! Continue reading.