David Kinnaman, a “Preacher’s Kid” and the President of the Barna Group writes: “I came away from my childhood with a pretty accurate slogan for church ministry: Where you control nothing and are responsible for everything.” (Page 7, The State of Pastors.) The statement is obviously not literally true, but for every Professional Church Worker, it certainly feels true at least some of the time. All the more so as we struggle to make sense of a rapidly changing culture and frustrating trends of Church attendance and general attitudes about commitment.
Complicating the issue? Barna’s The State of Pastors reports (page 9):
- More than one-third of pastors are at high (11%) or medium (26%) risk of burnout.
- Two in five tally high (27%) or medium (16%) on the risk metric for relational problems.
I don’t have hard data on other Professional Church Workers, but it stands to reason that if the organizational leaders are at high risk, those serving in that same organization are also at risk, perhaps even more so. Do you sometimes feel as though you are responsible for EVERYTHING but control NOTHING? Do you feel as though you are at risk of BURNOUT? Are the people closest to you encouraging or depleting your reserves and effectiveness? There are steps you can take that will make your life better, reenergize your Call as a Professional Church Worker, and help you grow in your leadership effectiveness. That’s the goal of Christian Leadership Matters!
Christian Leadership Matters is a weekly blog that seeks to help Professional Church Workers find leadership and ministry clarity and enhance the leadership skills needed to make positive changes in their lives and in the ministry with which they are connected. It is my intent to provide relevant and practical leadership principles that can be used personally, shared with your leadership team (Church, School, Non-profit Organization), or discussed at various leadership forums in which you participate.
Practical and Useful
So, to get started: No matter how much formal education we have had, no matter how many years of experience, it never hurts to re-examine the basics. First, then, the question: “What is Leadership?” In less than one second, Google posted more than 339 MILLION web links to that topic. And, the web answers are all over the map! Being somewhat selective, here are a few examples:
- Leadership is the art of motivating a group of people to act towards achieving a common goal. [Link]
- A leader is the one in charge, the person who convinces other people to follow. A great leader inspires confidence in other people and moves them to action. [Link]
- Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.
- Peter Drucker: “The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.”
- Warren Bennis: “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
More central to Christian leadership:
- Dr. J. Robert Clinton, Prof. of Leadership & Extension @ School of World Mission, Fuller; in his book The Making of a Leader, p. 197: “A leader, as defined from a study of biblical leadership, and for whom we are interested in tracing leadership development is a person (1) with God-given capacity and (2) with God-given responsibility to influence (3) a specific group of God’s people (4) toward God’s purposes for the group.” p. 202
- Henry and Richard Blackaby: “Spiritual leadership is moving people on to God’s agenda.”
I gravitate toward Blackaby’s definition because it is so succinct, but what’s practical and useful at the moment will be for the reader to consider and formulate a definition that suits you, that expresses your particular giftedness, attitudes and personality (and, of course, staying in bounds of Scripture). Become an expert in that to which you have been Called. As a Professional Church Worker, you have been Called to Lead. Exactly WHO you lead, how many, the age group of those you lead, direct lines of responsibility, etc., are determined by the terms of your Call, but by definition, a Professional Church Worker IS Called to Lead.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a definition of a leader is more connected with his/her attitudes, adaptability, and actions (each of these three concepts will be a focus of a future blog). A true leader is in what a person consistently DOES, not the title printed on the business card. There are a number of great books and assessments that focus on what a leader consistently does as leader. In future blogs I will share additional leadership resources, tools, and concepts. Here’s one great resource:
Leadership Practices Inventory (referred to as LPI) by James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner is a great place to start. Kouzes and Posner focus on: “The Five Practices” of Exemplary Leadership:
- Model the Way
- Inspire a Shared Vision
- Challenge the Process
- Enable others to Act
- Encourage the Heart
Kouzes and Posner believe that leadership is a skill that can be taught and (of course) learned. Their website is here. Their approach, though “secular” in nature, lends itself very well to the Professional Church Worker environment. You can take this inventory online. To make the most of these results, you will benefit from a certified and professional Coach. [I just happen to be one; contact me via my website, thehighercallingcoach.com, or directly, Phil@thehighercallingcoach.com]
Becoming a better leader involves learning the basics of responsible Christian leadership and consistently putting these basics into action. Here is my (still growing) list of leadership principles:
- Christian Leaders lead from character and integrity.
- Christian Leaders practice healthy self monitoring.
- Christian Leaders are powered by the Mission.
- Christian Leaders invest themselves in the lives of other people.
- Christian Leaders empower others to reach their fullest potential.
- Christian Leaders are action-oriented and results-driven.
- Christian Leaders are lifelong learners.
- Christian Leaders are adaptable.
With your help, these principles will be fine tuned. What are your leadership principles? What is missing? What is redundant? What is unclear? What do you suggest?
To lead people to the cross and to effectively lead the people of Christ, wise Christian leaders will seek to become Christian Leadership Experts. Christian Leadership Matters intends to be one of the tools that will help you find leadership and ministry clarity and enhance the leadership skills needed to make positive changes in your life and in the lives of the people you are Called to serve.
In the coming weeks I will post blogs on general leadership (and sometimes management) topics such as:
- Building Professional-level Leadership Skills
- Time Management
- Providing useful/effective (as well as negative) feedback
- Working with Difficult People
- Working well as a Team (Developing Highly Effective Ministry Teams)
- Dual Relationships; Establishing and maintaining Professional Boundaries
- Achieving healthy Work/Life balance
- Creating Organizational: Focus – Urgency — Loyalty
- Do you need to be the Smartest Person in the Room?
- Existential Crises: What Now?
- Communicating Your Vision; The why informs the how
- How to read and understand your organization’s financials
- Respect and Leadership:
- How to navigate organizational conflict
- Dealing with other people’s expectations
- Outsourcing Ministry: when, how, danger, blessing
- Building Trust with your Organization’s Leadership teams
- Coaching and Mentoring for Ministry Excellence
- The Power of Appreciative Inquiry
- Tough Topics;how to talk to employees/ volunteers about hygiene and other tough issues
- Delegating like Moses
- Disability Awareness
- Designing the perfect meeting – the art of making meetings work
If there are topics you would like to include, please add to the Comment section below or email me: Phil@thehighercallingcoach.com.
Until next week,
Blessings in Christ,
Dr. Phil Pledger is The Higher Calling Coach and writes Christian Leadership Matters blog each week. Christian Leadership Matters is a weekly blog that seeks to help Professional Church Workers discover and enhance the leadership skills needed to make positive changes in their lives and in the ministries they serve. As “The Higher Calling Coach,” Dr. Pledger helps Professional Church Workers and the ministries they serve find new ways to meet challenges, overcome roadblocks, and to find joy in serving Christ and His Church.
If you don’t want to miss his blog posts, sign up for his newsletter at: www.TheHigherCallingCoach.com. Email Coach Phil at: Phil@TheHigherCallingCoach.com if you would like to set up a no-cost/no-obligation consultation or would like to ask a question.