My journey in leadership development started with a John Maxwell One Day Conference back in 1996. Pastor Craig and I spent a day being poured into and by the end of the day, two things happened. One, my eyes were opened to the importance of leadership and secondly, we bought 12 books to begin our leadership libraries.
Since the church was small, I put myself on a crash course study in leadership. Every week, I would go to lunch and read one of the books, filling numerous notebooks. When those books were finished, I began to search out more. To this day, I usually have one book in my active reading that is about personal leadership or development.
Dr. Hugh Arnold, who holds a Ph.D. from Yale University in organizational behavior, wrote that there are three things a leader cannot give away. I read his thoughts and I am taking his three principles and applying them to church leadership.
- Vision. Basically, “Where are we going?” If you have ever been on a family vacation where the group is pulled in multiple ways, you can see how this can affect even the smallest ministry. Creating vision is hard work. In church leadership it requires prayer, time alone, an awareness of the environments and a great understanding of the people we serve. You will know your vision is on target and solid when your close advisors, (the ones who will give you honest feedback), hear your vision and in the end say, “That is exactly where we need to go!”
- You will answer the question – “How will we get there?” A good leader will surround themselves with people of various talents and strengths. They should tap into those people to get the most input from each area to understand the “lay of the land” when enacting this plan. But then, the strategy comes back to the leader. They have got to decide the path to take and divide up the responsibilities. Ultimately, the entire strategy will reflect on them. Good or bad results, the leader will be the one who shoulders that burden.
- Core Values. Final question – “How will we conduct ourselves?” I have been listening to a lot of podcasts lately and I am always intrigued to hear how a church leader describes their own church. None of the answers are wrong – it’s their church and culture. But, none of them have been the same. That is what is so great about different groups – they get to decide how they are going to carry themselves, what they are known for and what will people remember about them. That goes directly back to the foundation laid out by the leader. If people under him do not embrace his core values in their actions, speech and thoughts, the organization will be sending a mixed message and confusing those attending. Consistency will bring excellence to the church and peace to those attending.
These principles apply no matter how big or small your group. The leader must keep these three responsibilities. Next week, I am going to share the six things that a leader can give away…I think some may surprise you.