(This is the second nugget from a talk I gave sharing the seven principles I have learned from almost twenty years at Grace Family Church.)
#2 – Trust Your Leadership
When I came to GFC, it was on the one year anniversary, in a strip mall and with a total of 125 people. Fast forward to the time of this writing, we are 20.5 years old, have 3 campuses and average around 7,200 – 7,500 people in weekend attendance. That journey consisted of tremendous highs and numerous challenges…and some amazing people as well. It has truly been a spiritual journey with God leading and blessing the church in so many ways. One key piece to that foundation has been the leadership over the years.
While still in the strip mall, Craig and I went to a John Maxwell conference when we were the only pastors on staff. The one day seminar ended with John telling everyone about his books. He had this incredible deal where you could get ten of his favorite books on leadership for a great price. We bought the set. This was the first intentional step I took on growing my leadership. I would take my lunch and read those books – highlighting, circling and asking questions. To this day, I love reading about leadership stories, anecdotes and applications. Craig is a natural leader. He is visionary in his ability to see the future and articulate in detailing the steps needed to accomplish the journey. He works at it as well and we have both grown immensely.
With all this wisdom, how could you ever doubt the leadership of Grace? (Sarcasm definitely intended on that one) Maybe this one phrase will put it in a better perspective…
“I have never been in this place before.”
There have been so many hurdles and challenges along the journey of Grace. This phrase has given us the grace to take the time to make a good decision. And some times we didn’t. We have made some bad decisions and choices over the years. However, we have made a lot more good ones that have helped shape us to what we are today. All along the way, we were put into a situation we had never been in before. That is the exciting and challenging part of growth – it is all uncharted territory. Someone else may have gone before you and you can learn from their experience, but in the end, you still have to take the steps yourself. As you grow, you get the responsiblity of taking those you lead. This could mean staff or a growing congregation. It is one thing to shoulder the lead when you are the only one affected. Try that when you have staff and families depending on those decisions and a congregation that deserves the best leadership you can provide.
Trust your leadership. I know there are bad leaders out there. I am going to believe that they are a small sampling of the leadership pool as a whole. The leaders that I work with daily – in the church and out of the church – want to make solid decisions, grow their organizations and see the results of their labor. They are striving for the very best and doing the work to make that happen. Since they are moving forward, they are taking new ground that has never been conquered before by their organization.
I have been asked, “What is one of the hardest decisions you have made at GFC over the twenty years?” There have been quite a few but the one that usually jumps out is when we bought our first phone system. We were in rented offices, the church was in its second year and I was in my first. One of my responsibilities was to oversee all the business administration. I was tasked to purchase a phone system that we could use now and take with us when we moved into our first building. I did the research, I prayed and even would have done a small Old Testament sacrifice if I could be assured this one system was our best choice. Looking back now, I laugh at Craig’s confidence in me. I was young, growing up fast but leaning into all my responsibilities. The last hurdle in the decision was the $1500 price tag. Today, I still think $20 is big so this one was a whopper. In the end, we bought the system. It turned out to be a solid system that worked for us for a long time.
Trusting your leadership means that you recognize that all of us are on the journey together. We all have our responsibilities. And if we are growing, we are in new territory. As one who leads and is being led, I see the challenge in both. But, I believe I can meet the challenge by trusting in God first and the leadership second. And that works for me.