5 Roadblocks of Good Leadership

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I was in a hurry to get to a meeting across town and the traffic was horrible. I decided to take a shortcut. I had been the new way only one other time, but remembered it well enough to believe it would be faster. I turned several streets to navigate through a subdivision, back on to a main road, and then through another subdivision. Just as I was about to get to the road I needed to be on the road was permanently closed to through traffic. It had apparently been closed for some time. Had I checked before attempting to go this direction, probably even long enough for Google maps to pick up on it. I essentially had to completely backtrack and get into the same traffic jam again. Only this time I was even twenty minutes later.

So, much for my shortcut.

It reminded me, however, of something I’ve observed in leadership. There are roadblocks in good leadership too.

I’ve witnessed many leaders, including myself at times, become distracted from leading as well as we should.

Many times it’s a natural occurrence. We aren’t feeling well physically or emotionally. Life struggles distract us and our attention to our work isn’t what we would want it to be. There is a problem with someone else on the team which must be dealt with before you can move forward. They are usually seasonal and mostly unavoidable distractions — roadblocks — every leader faces.

Everyone faces roadblocks.

It’s the roadblocks in leadership which we can avoid that tend to be most damaging. They detract from growth and destroy organizational health.If they aren’t addressed, it can set a leader back months, years, even an entire career.

As leaders, we must avoid these roadblocks as much as possible.

Here are 5 roadblocks to good leadership?

Abusing power rather than extending power

Some leaders try to control every outcome, but end up wasting the valuable talent of others on the team. They limit the team’s possibilities to those the leader is capable of personally producing. As long as a leader refuses to release authority to others there will be a roadblock in the way of the ultimate potential of the organization.

Making excuses for a weakness

These leaders never admit a fault or mistake — for themselves or the organization — even though everyone around them sees it. They hide flaws, pretend everything is “awesome”, and try to make you believe life couldn’t be better. The underlying problems of the team are never addressed or corrected. Strengths aren’t fully maximized because more energy goes to covering up places which aren’t wonderful.

Favoring popularity over progress

I’ve seen leaders who care more about people liking them than about achieving the goals of the organization. When this is the roadblock complacency and mediocrity become standards instead of excellence. Compromise is chosen over collaboration. Conflict is avoided and people will hear what they want to hear — but everyone is disappointed with the results.

Holding grudges instead of building bridges

I once worked with a leader who would never accept a challenge. Whenever he felt threatened he “blackballed” you into compliance or worked to get rid of you. These type leaders are diligent about protecting their image or reputation, so if you appear to question them they pit others on the team against you. They make it very difficult for people to know whether the leader is pleased with their efforts. Their style creates turf wars among team members as people scramble to meet the leader’s approval. Sides are chosen and the team’s abilities to effectively work together is limited.

Waiting for the perfect conditions rather than taking a risk

These leaders refuse to take steps of faith. They demand every detail be answered before a project is launched. They seldom place faith in other people because it’s too risky. This roadblock results in bored cultures and teams, slow or no growth, and eventual declines. The opportunity cost with this distraction is exponential.

I’m certain there are others. This list is only intended to get you thinking. Be honest, have you been a leader with one of these roadblocks? Again, we all throw up roadblocks at times in our leadership. We must attempt to eliminate those which cause the greatest disruption to progress. Discovering them and tearing them down may be a key to providing good leadership.

What roadblock would you add to my list?

Something I Want for My Boys Even More Than Their Happiness

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My boys are in their mid 20s. They have pretty stable lives. They came off our payroll pretty much right out of college, which I guess is considered a blessing these days. They work hard. They are responsible.

Best of all they love Jesus and people. They both serve Him in their own way.

They have great relationships in their life. Everyone seems to love them who knows them. As every parent does, I love when people brag on them. And, I get to experience it regularly. One of them is married to a wonderful Christian lady. 

I know, it seems I’m bragging — and I am. Let him who boasts boast in the Lord and I give Him all the glory. Our family is truly a product of grace.

Every parent wants their children to be happy. That seems to go without saying.

I certainly want that for my boys. It’s something I even pray for frequently.

But there is something I want more for my boys more than their happiness.

In fact, I’d almost sacrifice their happiness — at least in the short-term — for them to achieve this in the long-term.

I want my boys to be obedient.

I want them to go wherever God leads and do whatever God commands. I want them to trust His leadership, follow His plan, and surrender their will to His will. I want them to some day hear those words, “Well done good and faithful servant. Well done!” 

Even when it’s uncomfortable. Even when it’s not their plan.

You see, I’ve learned by experience in my own life.

I know the center of God’s will is the absolute best place to be.

Granted, it’s not always the safest place in terms of the world but it’s always the safest place in terms of the kingdom of God.

Do I want my boys to be happy? Don’t let me close this post without you knowing I do. Yes, I do want their happiness. In fact, I believe ultimate happiness is found in living within the pleasure of God — delighting in the things in which He delights.

But, more than anything — I simply want my boys to be obedient.

Trusting Your Team With Decisions – How to Make the Best Decisions When A Quick Decision Is Needed

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As a leader, I am forced to make dozens of decisions every day. I’ve learned the secret to making better decisions faster.

When I’m pushed for a quick answer — when everyone knows a decision needs to be made now, but without time to get all the information I would normally require to make a decision…

I empower people on my team to make the decision.

Sometimes I simply don’t have enough information or enough time to gather it — even though by position the decision would normally be mine to make. It happens frequently enough that I need to have a plan for those occasions. It happened frequently when I first arrived in a new church, in a new position. But, it keeps happening. There are decisions which need to be made quickly, but I don’t know the parameters we need to make the best decision as well as others on the team.

I could slow down progress. I could micromanage. Instead I empower. That’s the secret.

In times like this, the people on our staff:

  • Have more knowledge about the issue than I have.
  • Usually have an opinion of what we should do.
  • Often hope I’ll answer the way they want me to.

In those times, I will ask a question, such as, “What do you think we should do?” or “Are you comfortable enough to put your name behind it?” or “What would you do if you were me?”

Then I go with their instinct — maybe even over my own.

But — and this is key if you truly want people to give you input — I let them know I will back them in the decision.

And — equally important…

I let them know they will be also held partially responsible for the outcome.

  • I’m still on the hook.
  • I’ll support them completely.
  • Ill stand fully behind them.

But I’ll follow their lead on the issue.

It grants them authority, it allows them to buy into the decision, it grows their leadership, and it helps move the organization forward faster.

The principle:

If you want to lead people you have to trust the people you lead and let them own decisions with you.

Are you trusting the people on your team, yet still holding them accountable?

7 Ways to Raise up Young Leaders

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I talk to pastors and leaders my age and older who want to see a new generation of leaders. They claim to love investing in younger leaders. They recognize the huge need in churches and organizations. Our future depends upon doing so.

The problem they claim is either they don’t know how or can’t seem to find them. Or they can’t seem to keep them. Frankly, some pastors I talk with are frustrated with what they see as a lack of leadership among the newer generations.

As a church planter, we hired several staff members into their first ministry position. We struck “gold” several times. I was frequently asked how we have managed to find so many talented young leaders. Much of the work God did at the church plant was done through the leadership efforts of people 10, 15, and 20 years younger than me.

Now I am pastoring an established church. I falsely assumed — because of what I’d been told — younger leaders would not want to join our efforts. They only wanted hip and cool church plants.

Not true. At all. We are once again surrounded by young leaders. Sharp young leaders.

Along the way we’ve discovered a few things.

Here are 7 ways to raise up young leaders:

Give them opportunities – That sounds simple, but it’s not. Many leaders are afraid to hand off real responsibility to leaders half their age. I understand, because I made some huge mistakes as a young leader, but at the same time, it’s how I learned — through trying, failing and trying again. Younger leaders want authority and a seat at the table now — not when they reach an expected age. They may not even be a fair expectation for them at times, but it’s a legitimate one. Is it risky? Of course, but it awesome has the potential for awesomeness to occur.

Share experiences – Young leaders are open to learning from a mature leader’s successes and failures. In fact, they crave it. They enjoy hearing stories of what worked and what didn’t. This characteristic is actually one of the beauties of newer generations. The young leaders on teams I’ve led actually seek out my personal experience. They will still want the chance to learn on their own, but they are ready to glean from the wisdom of those who have gone before them — especially in the context of relationships.

Allow for failure – People of all ages will make mistakes in leadership, regardless of their years of experience. It seems magnified for younger leaders, because they are doing many things the first time — which is one reason older leaders sometimes shy away from them. An atmosphere, however, which embraces failure as a part of the growth process, invites younger leaders to take chances, risking failure and exploring possible genius discoveries.

Be open to change – More than likely, younger leaders will do things differently than the older leaders did things. They want more flexible hours, different work environments, and opportunities to work as a team. It may seem unnatural at first, but let their process take shape and you’ll have a better chance of leadership development occurring. And, us “old dogs” might “learn some new tricks”.

Set high expectations – Having different working methods shouldn’t lower standards or quality expectations. The good thing is the younger leaders, from my experience, aren’t looking for a free ride, just a seat on the bus. Hold them accountable to clearly identified goals and objectives. Let them know what a win looks like to you. Applaud them for good work and challenge them to continually improve. It’s part of their growth process.

Provide encouragement – Younger leaders need feedback. They seem to want to know how they are doing far more often than the annual review system the past afforded. They are looking to meet the approval of senior leadership and the organization. Keep them encouraged and they’ll keep aiming higher.

Give constructive feedback – Again, younger leaders appear more interested in knowing they are meeting the expectations of senior leadership, so acknowledge that fact by helping them learn as they grow. Don’t simply share “good” or “bad” feedback. Rather, with the goal of helping them grow as leaders, give them concrete and constructive reviews of their performance. Help them understand not only what they did right or wrong, but practical ways they can get better in their work and leadership abilities.

Raising up younger leaders is crucial to a growing and maintaining healthy organizations and churches. We must be intentional and diligent about investing in the next generation, understanding their differences, and working within their culture to grow new leaders.

Young leaders, what did I miss?

Mature leaders, what else are you doing?

8 Killers of Motivation — and Ultimately Killers of Momentum

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Leaders need to remain motivated so they can help motivate their team. Leaders also need to be keenly aware of how motivated their team is at any given time.

I have found over the years that regardless of how motivated I am if the people around me are unmotivated, we aren’t going to be very successful as a team.

Which is why it may be even more important a leader learns recognize when a team is decreasing in motivation.

But, here’s the greater reason.

Momentum is often a product of motivation.

When a team loses motivation, momentum is certain to suffer loss. It’s far easier to motivate a team — in my opinion — than it is to build momentum in an organization.

So, as leaders, we must learn what destroys motivation.

Here are 8 killers of motivation and — ultimately — momentum:

Routine – When people have to repeat the same activity over and over again, in time they lose interest in it. This is especially true in a day where rapid change is all around them. Change needs to be a built-in part of the organization to keep people motivated and momentum moving forward.

Fear – When people are afraid, they often quit. They stop taking risks. They fail to give their best effort. They stop trying. Fear keeps a team from moving forward. Leaders can remove fear by welcoming mistakes, by lessening control, and by celebrating each step.

Success – A huge win or a period of success can lead to complacency. When the team feels they’ve “arrived” they may no longer feel the pressure to keep learning. Leaders who recognize this killer may want to provide new opportunities, change people’s job responsibilities, and introduce greater challenges or risks.

Lack of direction – People need to know where they are going and what a win looks like — especially according to the leader. When people are left to wonder, they lose motivation, do nothing or make up their own answers. Leaders should continually pause to make sure the team understands what they are being asked to do.

Failure– Some people can’t get past a failure and some leaders can’t accept failure as a part of building success. Failure should be used to build momentum. As one strives to recover, lessons are learned and people are made stronger and wiser, but if not viewed and addressed correctly, it leads to momentum stall.

Apathy – When a team loses their passion for the vision, be prepared to experience a decline in motivation — and eventually momentum. Leaders must consistently be casting vision. In a way, leaders become a cheerleader for the cause, encouraging others to continue a high level of enthusiasm for the vision.

Burnout – When a team or team member has no opportunity to rest, they soon lose their ability to maintain motivation. Momentum decline follows shortly behind. Good leaders learn when to push to excel and when to push to relax. This may be different for various team members, but everyone needs to pause occasionally to re-energize.

Feeling under-valued – When someone feels his or her contribution to the organization isn’t viewed as important, they lose the motivation to continually produce. Leaders must learn to be encouraging and appreciative of the people they lead.

If you see any of these at work in your organization, address them now!

The problem with all of these is that we often don’t recognize them when they are killing motivation. We fail to see them until momentum has begun to suffer. Many times this will be too late to fully recover — at least for all team members.

7 Reasons I Need to Regularly Exercise as a Leader

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I’m a runner.

I had some knee issues for a few months that kept me from running as much as I would normally. As much as I hated missing my runs, and I tried to substitute the time with other workouts, I learned a few things about myself during the time of healing.

I was reminded, by not running as much, how valuable to me the exercise is for me personally.

I have always encouraged leaders to have a regular exercise routine. I think it’s a necessary discipline for a healthy leader. If you aren’t currently an active exerciser, I have even more practical, first hand experience to encourage you to begin.

Here are 7 reasons I need to exercise:

Forced down time – I discovered that my running time — or when I exercise — is one of the few times each day where I am not answering emails, taking phone calls, or doing something that requires mental power. Exercise forces me to be still — or — well, you know what I mean. My mind is cleared to pray more — to think more.

Physical health – I am better able to maintain my weight when I am running. I feel better. I sleep better. My blood pressure tests lower. The doctor’s office loves taking my vitals when I am in a regular exercise routine. (Due to a heavier than normal travel schedule I am actually up a few pounds — just to be transparent, but thankfully it’s a few pounds not 15 or 20.)

Mental stimulation – My best ideas come while I am running. I suppose because my body is energized and I’m free from other distractions, I’m so creative while I’m running. My biggest obstacle is figuring out how to record or remember them when I stop running. (I’ve even started to walk for a minute just to record the thought quickly.) Some of my deepest, most intimate times with God come when I’m on a long run. God seems to work in my mind during those times — probably because I’ve given Him better access to my mind.

Longevity – Long days are nothing for me when I am in a healthy running discipline. It seems counter-intuitive, but I have more energy in the day — not less — when I’m exercising regularly.

Maximum effectiveness – Exercise — while it seems to take time out of my day — actually ends up being the most effective use of my time. It increases my productivity and gives me a better overall attitude towards my work (and life). It’s powerful enough — I’ve learned from experience — that on my busiest days I try to break away and exercise in the middle of the day. The fastest way for me to get out of a productivity slump is to step away from the “work” and go for a short (or long) run.

Eat with less worry – I enjoy food. A lot. People will often make a comment I must not enjoy food as much as they do because I seem to maintain my weight. The reality is they’ve never seen me eat. I don’t think you can totally ignore your diet regardless of how much you exercise. I try to be healthier in most of my choices, and I do discipline what I eat (wish I was better at how much), but I pretty much eat what I want. I’m certainly never hungry long. Running — or exercise — affords me less guilt in my diet and the occasional splurges I enjoy.

Stress reduction – I find if I’m especially stressed a good sweat gives me a calmer perspective. It’s an excellent way to decompress. It was crazy how much not running — before I found exercise which could substitute — added to me being more tense. My family noticed it. I’m certain the people who work with me did also. I know I did. I’m a nicer person to be around when I’m running regularly. It took me a while to associate the cause of additional stress on the lack of exercise, but the return to healthy routines made it clear.

I’m back to running, thankfully. In fact, I just completed a 10K with my fastest time in several years. I’m usually training for something — even if I never run another race — because it keeps me disciplined in a routine. And, I know the value. It’s been proven to me.

Do you have a regular routine of exercise? It doesn’t have to be running, but it should be something. Of course, you should always check with your doctor before you start something extreme, but I’ve never had a doctor who didn’t value some form of exercise.

If you are not regularly exercising — especially if you’re a leader — answer this question:

Considering the stress in your life, and how productive you hope to be with your life, could beginning the discipline of exercise be one of the missing ingredients?

Let me be a voice of encouragement to you. Find the exercise routine which works best for you, discipline yourself for 30-40 days, then enjoy the lifetime of benefits.

7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team

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One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders.

I previously posted reasons leaders tend to leave an organization. (Read that post HERE.) The goal then is to find ways to keep a leader energized to stay with the team — so I thought a companion post was appropriate.

I’m writing from the perspective of all organizations but keeping leaders should certainly be a high priority in the church.

I never want to stop someone from pursuing a better opportunity, but I don’t want to send them away because I didn’t help them stay.

The reality is that leaders get restless if they are forced to sit still for long. Good managers are comfortable maintaining progress, but a leader needs to be leading change. In fact, leaders even like a little chaos. Show a real leader a problem ready to be solved and they are energized.

Here are a few suggestions to encourage leaders to stay:

Give them a new challenge. Let them tackle something you’ve never been able to accomplish. (Even tell them you’re not certain it can be done.) Leaders love to do what others said couldn’t. Or that no one has figured out yet. Let the leader be a precursor to what’s next for the organization. Let them experiment somewhere you’ve wanted to go but haven’t tried. They may discover the next big thing for the organization.

Allow them to explore a specific area of interest to them. Leaders are attracted to environments where they can explore — especially in areas where they have a personal interest or where they want to develop.

Mentor them. Invest in them personally. This is huge for younger leaders. They crave it but don’t always know how to ask for it. This is not micromanaging. This is helping them learn valuable insight from your experience.

Give them more creative time to dream. This is huge. You might keep someone who feels they stifled if you give them more margin in how they spend their time.

Don’t exhibit fear to them. I’ve seen this so many times when a senior leader gives other leaders in the organization more responsibility. They micromanage. They ask too many questions before they’ve had a chance to prove themselves. They try to tell them how to do things. Fear is easily discerned. And, it doesn’t communicate you trust them.

Reward them. If they are doing well — let them know it. Praise them privately and publicly and compensate them fairly.

Allow him or her to help you lead/dream/plan for the organization. Include them in discussions and brainstorming in which they normally would not be included. The more they feel included the more loyal they will be.

Sure, keeping a leader on your team will be at challenge for you as a leader. You will have to stretch yourself to stretch them. But, it’s almost always worth it. As they grow, you grow, and the entire organization grows.

7 Reasons Leaders Tend to Quit Your Organization

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If any organization expects to grow, they need to attract, develop and retain quality leaders.

Any argument with that statement? If so, you just like to argue. And, I get that too.

But, new growth always requires new leaders. Period.

Certainly the church needs good leaders. 

One of the highest costs an organization has is replacing leaders, so ideally once a leader is hired, you’ll want to keep them. So it’s equally important to know how to keep them. And, to know why leaders tend to leave an organization, apart from finding a better opportunity. I don’t want to stand in the way of a leader leaving to an opportunity I can’t match, but I don’t want to lose them because of something the organization did wrong.

Here are 7 reasons leaders tend to quit an organization:

They couldn’t live out their personal vision. Leaders are internally driven. They have personal visions in addition to the vision of the organization. They need opportunity to explore, find their own way, and feel they are making their own personal contribution to overall success.

They were told no too many times. Leaders have ideas they want to see implemented. If they get their hand slapped too many times they will be frustrated. And, not for long before they respond.

They felt unappreciated/never recognized for their abilities. This goes for all team members. People need to know that what they are offering is valued. Leaders especially want to know their contribution is recognized and valued.

They were given no voice . Leaders want input into the direction of the organization. They want a seat at the table of authority.

They were left clueless as to the future of the organization. Leaders need inside information so they feel ownership in the overall direction of the organization. They don’t like constant surprises or feeling they are always an outsider.

Their vision doesn’t match the vision of the organization. This is best discovered before the leader joins the team, but when it is discovered a leader will be very uncomfortable. Something must change. And, it will. Trust me.

They were micromanaged . Leaders don’t need managing as much as they need releasing. They more they are controlled the more they rebel.

You can allow leaders to work for the good of the organization or stifle them, discourage them and spend valuable time and effort consistently replacing them. If you want to keep leaders — them lead!

5 Common Objections to Change – And 5 Suggestions to Lead Through Them

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One of the biggest — yet seemingly smallest — changes we have made in church revitalization was switching our service times. It seemed so simple yet I was pulled aside and told several times it would be the last change I made in the church. The word was the seniors — who primarily attended the later service — had made so many changes they weren’t doing this one. And they were extremely serious about it.

(Let me give a side note here to my pastor friends. Your seniors who don’t like change are usually more supportive than you think they are or will be. Granted, there are those few who are difficult, but those people come with all age groups. Good leadership can bring your seniors along — which is the point of this post.)

But, foolish as I can be, we changed the service times.

(Another side note. To all leaders. If you aren’t occasionally doing some things others call foolish — at least initially — you may not be leading.)

Frankly, I don’t believe we would be on any “fast growing church” list had we not made the change in our service times.

But, it wasn’t easy. There was plenty of resistance. We even lost a few families. Not many, but a few.

For the most part, however, it was an enormously successful change.

Part of the reason is we were methodical about addressing objections.

I’ve learned in leading change there are a few common objections to change. If you know a change is necessary, understanding why someone is objecting may help you respond accordingly.

Here are 5 common objections to change — each followed by suggestions for addressing them:

Confused -These people just don’t understand the change. They can’t get their minds around it yet. It doesn’t make sense to them. They may lack information. Often they have heard misinformation. Or they heard one point about the change and came to their own conclusion about the everything else.

Suggestion: Over communicate. When you think you’ve shared too much — share it again. And again. And in different formats. We created a brochure for a change which seemed to many to be so simple to understand. We held meetings. We placed it in the Sunday bulletin. I talked about it from stage. Many times, in my experience, once the change is explained, they become supportive or less opposed.

Conflicted – Some people object to change because they are objecting to life. It’s not about you it’s about them. They have past hurts they can’t resolve. They are injured. Maybe even by something which happened to them in the church. But, maybe something in life which has nothing to do with you or the church but your change reminds them of their pain and so they take it out on everyone else. And, you’re leading the change so you’re the target now. Frankly, some of these people can be mean. These type critics can be the most hurtful as a leader.

Suggestion: Attempt to understand them. I have learned many times they are dealing with an injury which never healed. Understanding their pain can often lead to helping them heal from something in their past. Unfortunately they usually influence others with negativity. Sometimes these people will be critics unless they are addressed directly. If you do — the change is necessary — and you can’t get them on your team you may have to simply work around them. You can’t allow their personality or emotional injury to hold you back from what you need to do as a leader.

Care – These people simply don’t think you care. They assume, for whatever reason, the changes are being made without considering their opinion or concern. They may feel this way regardless of how much you have communicated. They may feel the changes favor one particular group of people at the inconvenience of another. Whether it’s true or not it’s how they feel.

Suggestion: Spend time with them as you’re able. Or empower others to spend time with them. I have seen many times if these people are included in the decision process, and you acknowledge and attempt to understand their concerns they will come along with you. Good vision casting can alleviate some of their concerns.

Control – This objection comes simply because you stepped on someone’s power. You didn’t check with them first. This is so common in church work. I have found many times pride and selfishness is the driving force here. They don’t like feeling they’ve lost their seat at the table of authority. Frankly, this reason for criticism is probably the most frustrating to me, because there’s little you can do about it unless you’re willing to appease them.

Suggestion: Recognize the pain. As difficult as this type criticism is to accept, I have observed that patient, honest, transparent conversations, while remaining firm with the change, can sometimes keep these critics from working against you — even if they still don’t agree with the change. Then sometimes, you simply have to move forward without their support. And, yes they are the most difficult people to confront and can be intimidating. But, remember — you’re the leader.

Comfort – These critics, who are the most common group, simply don’t like change. It’s uncomfortable. Resistance to change will be relative to the size of the change. I hear people say they aren’t change resistant but all of us are at some level. Let me give you an example. Imagine your day off has been Saturday for the last 20 years. Suddenly your employment changes your day off to Tuesday. You now have to work Saturdays. How comfortable is that change? Don’t resonate with that example? Pick an issue where you’re currently comfortable and consider changing it. Try enough scenarios and you’ll find your level of resistance to change. That’s what most people are going through when you introduce change. They don’t know how it will feel after the change.

Suggestion: Sympathize. Change can hurt. Every change has an attached emotion. (I’ve posted on these emotions previously.) Understand the emotional response part of change. It’s normal. The only real solution to this one is to provide clear communication, cast the vision well, and be patient as people adapt. Most of these people will come along eventually.

Criticism is common in leadership and change. The only way to avoid it is to avoid change. I’m not sure that’s leadership, but that’s the only solution to be criticism-free. The fact is, the more change occurs and the more it becomes part of the culture, the less resistance there will be.

I should note, this post is not intended to help you avoid criticism, and certainly not completely dismiss it. As a leader, you must consider whether the criticism is valid, be open to other ideas and even rebuke if needed. Thinking all your ideas are great is an error in judgement and character. This post is intended to help you understand the basis of the objections. Even the best ideas will receive some.

5 Reminders When You are the Community’s Pastor

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There are times when a pastor is launched into the role of being a community pastor. At this point, it doesn’t matter the size of the church or the notoriety of the pastor. The community is looking for the pastor to lead.

Here are a few examples:

  • An influential person in the community — or a popular youth dies — and you are asked to do what a very large funeral.
  • Tragedy occurs — the kind which attracts national media attention — and you are sought to provide spiritual insight.
  • Natural disaster devastates the community and the church is heavily recruited in the recovery.
  • You are asked to speak at a public event.
  • Major cultural shifts occur that are newsworthy or impact the church and your opinion is solicited or expected.

For brief moments in time — an hour — a day — a week — all eyes are on the pastor for spiritual insight, guidance, comfort or a sense of direction.

What do you do in those times?

Several times as a pastor I’ve found myself in this position. It can be a humbling and even overwhelming place to be. I’ve learned how I respond in those situations impacts more than this specific incident.

These settings can come regardless of the church or community’s size. When they do the way you respond is of Kingdom importance.

Here are 5 reminders when you are the community’s pastor:

Speak truth in love – Don’t water down truth in these occasions, but don’t beat people up with truth either. Be like Jesus, full of grace and truth. Share God’s Word, but don’t use it as a weapon against the community. You will never be taken serious if they see you as judgmental and uncaring. Win them over with genuine love and helpful truth. These situations may give you a greater opportunity for influence for Christ in the days to come.

Don’t recruit for a church recruit for Jesus – There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than a pastor in a community setting who spends more time trying to recruit for his individual church than he does sharing the love of Christ. In settings where everyone sees you as the pastor, but not everyone is from your “flock”, use it as an opportunity to lift a Christ banner high, not your church banner. If they are impressed with the Jesus you proclaim, they’ll be more likely to find your church. Be mindful of doctrinal divisions that have divided people for years. In public settings, let the main thing be the main thing. Keep your focus upon doctrines which all of mainline Christianity can agree.

Build trust – You do that best by letting Jesus should shine through in all you do. You don’t want people to be impressed with you. You want them impressed with Jesus. People can tell when you are trying to build your own platform or soapbox. This may mean you simply build relationships like Jesus did with the tax collectors. Don’t assume you have to “preach” to take advantage of the opportunity. Your best use may be to build trust for future conversations.

Provide people hope – More than anything in these settings — share the hope of the Gospel. That’s likely why you are invited to this opportunity. This is probably not the time to bring forth condemnation. Don’t back away from truth, but make sure whatever you share is clearly seen in the context of a God who IS LOVE. Make it your intent to be helpful to people who are hurting. 

Be likable and natural – Let people see you as real and approachable. Take time to shake hands, embrace, cry with people who are grieving if necessary. The more they see you as a regular person (just like Elijah — James 5:17) and not like someone above them positionally or superior to them in moral value, the more likely they’ll be to trust the comfort you bring and cling to the God you serve.

It doesn’t happen often, but on the occasions where you have a larger, community audience, allow God to use you for a greater and longer term benefit to the Kingdom.

Have you ever been the community’s pastor? What would you add to my list?