I like to distinguish between a “goal mindset” and a “growth mindset.” A church leader with a “goal mindset” has very tangible, numerical goals to achieve over a specific period of time. Nothing is wrong with clearly defined goals, but there’s a better way of thinking that I call a “growth mindset.” A growth mindset recognizes goals on the journey, but only as part of a process—not as the end results.
Leaders of successful churches are tempted to stop working on themselves, but when the pastor doesn’t grow, the people don’t grow. It’s the Law of the Lid: a stagnant church leader stunts the growth of the church. I hope these thoughts on leadership will inspire you to maintain this “growth mindset,” for your personal benefit and for the benefit of those you lead.
A Function, Not a Title
Elders, deacons, pastors and even evangelists, prophets and apostles were all meant to be functions within the church, whether they are performed in an official capacity or not. They were never intended to be titles. Yes, some of the early apostles did travel between the early churches and ordained elders (Tit 1:5), yet the function of those who lead or govern within the church is listed as a gift in the Bible:
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1 Cor 12:28-emphasis added). This means that leadership is just as much a gift of the Spirit as healing. Conversely in the modern day church however, most people become leaders after completing some Bible College course or after they have jumped through their institution’s hoops long enough.
Information Transfer versus Relational leadership development
Jesus took risks on leaders the church wouldn’t invite into leadership
- It’s true that charisma can make a person stand out for a moment, but character sets a person apart for a lifetime.
- You build trust with others each time you choose integrity over image, truth over convenience, or honor over personal gain.
- Character makes trust possible, and trust is the foundation of leadership.
- Character creates consistency, and if your people know what they can expect from you, they will continue to look to you for leadership.
- Over time, is it easier or harder to sustain your influence within your organization? With charisma alone, influence becomes increasingly more difficult to sustain. With character, as time passes, influence builds and requires less work to sustain.
- Great communication depends on two simple skills—context, which attunes a leader to the same frequency as his or her audience, and delivery, which allows a leader to phrase messages in a language the audience can understand.
- Earn the right to be heard by listening to others. Seek to understand a situation before making judgments about it.
- Take the emotional temperature of those listening to you. Facial expressions, voice inflection and posture give clues to a person’s mood and attitude.
- Persuasive communication involves enthusiasm, animation, audience participation, authenticity and spontaneity.
- Credibility is a leader’s currency. With it, he or she is solvent; without it, he or she is bankrupt.
- Speak the truth. Transparency breeds legitimacy.
- Don’t hide bad news. With multiple information channels available, bad news always becomes known. Be candid right from the start.
- A highly credible leader under-promises and over-delivers.
- Diligent follow-up and follow-through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate excellence.
- A trustworthy leader goes the extra mile to remedy strained relationships, even when it doesn’t appear to be required.Failure
- “Failing forward” is the ability to get back up after you’ve been knocked down, learn from your mistake, and move forward in a better direction.
- Don’t buy into the notion that mistakes can somehow be avoided. They can’t be.
- Failure is not a one-time event; it’s how you deal with life along the way. Until you breathe your last breath, you’re still in the process, and there is still time to turn things around for the better.
- You are the only person who can label what you do a failure. Failure is subjective.
- Don’t allow the fire of adversity to make you a skeptic. Allow it to purify you.
- Generally speaking, there are two kinds of learning: experience, which is gained from your own mistakes, and wisdom, which is learned from the mistakes of others.
- Seek advice, but make sure it’s from someone who has successfully handled mistakes or adversities.
- When to quit: (1) Quit something you don’t do well to start something you do well. (2) Quit something you’re not passionate about to do something that fills you with passion. (3) Quit something that doesn’t make a difference to do something that does.
- People change when they hurt enough that they have to, learn enough that they want to, or receive enough that they are able to.
- More than anything else, followers want to believe that their leaders are ethical and honest.
- When your people see that you are not only competent to lead but also have a track record of successes, they will have confidence in following you, even when they don’t understand all the details.
- As a leader, it’s your job to get your people excited about what their work will accomplish; it’s a natural motivator.