What is your leadership capacity?
Have you found it?
I use the term leadership capacity to describe a leader’s maximum potential to effectively lead others to accomplish the vision.
A leader exceeds their leadership capacity when they no longer have the ability to effectively manage or lead the organization to reach its potential. They find themselves on a regular basis not able to handle all the demands placed upon them — and it’s beginning to show in the organization.
The leader has exceeded his or her leadership capacity.
You may not know the term, or even agree with my definition of it, but I suspect if you’ve led very long at all, you have felt the sensation of being over your capacity.
Do you ever feel you are in over your head?
I met with a great businessman and leader once that admitted he was overwhelmed with what was happening around him. He felt the weight of leading. His business had grown larger and faster than he ever anticipated. There were increasing demands — not only on his time, but also on the number of decisions he was having to make on a daily basis. He went home everyday feeling he had accomplished so little — even though he was doing a lot — because there was so much that could only be done by him.
He knew he was already beyond his capacity and growing more and more concerned the business could get away from him unless he did something to increase his capacity as a leader.
I know the feeling. Been there and done that – and probably will again.
I appreciate any leader who can recognize this about their leadership. That realization is like an insurance policy against leadership failure.
If you are leading and you feel you are reaching your leadership capacity, consider these steps:
Recognize and admit – That’s most important. Do not be afraid to admit you are over your head. Humility is actually an attractive leadership quality.
Re-evaluate – Are you trying to do too much? Are your standards for yourself too high? Do you need to change your role in the organizational structure? Do you need to lose some of your responsibilities? Have you built too much power or too much dependence on you in the organizational structure?
Ask for help – Seek wisdom from those who have led longer than you. Find a mentor. Take a class. Join a network. One of the values of social media for me has been the insight I have learned from other leaders, but I always have a mentor in my life — usually several.
Delegate – Ask yourself what responsibility you could give away or what areas others on your team would be better able to handle. If you are a one person “team”, seek volunteers or part-time help to help you bridge the gaps between your leadership ability and the demands of the organization. (It may end up being an investment that protects everything else in which you’ve invested.)
Quit if needed – If you value the vision enough then be willing to step aside if you are no longer a good fit to lead it. This is not a sign of failure or an indication that you are a bad leader. Sometimes the organization simply grows in another direction from our passion, skills or strengths as a leader. Some people are better suited to lead at one level than another. It takes an act of bold humility to admit this.
Leaders, is your leadership capacity being stretched? What are you going to do about it?
I was talking to a younger leader recently. He is feeling under-appreciated. His boss, the senior leader, never notices the work that he is doing. Even worse, for this senior leader, crisitcism flows easily. He never misses a mistake.
I get it. That leader could be me at times. I’m bad about celebrating. I’m wired for constant improvement. It’s something I’m conscious of and work on, but it takes consistent discipline on my part.
On the other hand, the new generation of leaders were born into a system that afforded instant and constant recognition. In my days, A’s were expected in school. So we didn’t always celebrate them. If we did it was at the end of the year. These days an A on a test may get a steak dinner.
I’m not criticizing. And, I’m not making excuses. My generation enabled this generation. I am just pointing out a difference in generational expectations. So, the reality is this senior leader may not even recognize the problem this younger leader is experiencing. He doesn’t see the problems with the way he is leading.
And, I’m not saying that as an excuse. From the way this senior leader was described to me, his behavior is wrong, demeaning, and certainly not conducive to produce the most excellent team environment or one that develops leaders — in my opinion — in any generation.
But, the question from this younger leader was how to respond. For a variety of reasons, he doesn’t feel the freedom to move on to something new right now. So what does he do today?
Well, first and foremost I told this younger leader he should not get his hopes up that things might change anytime soon. They might. Maybe the leader will read the right book or some masterful blog post and a conversion experience will occur in how this leader leads. Not likely.
But, what I can say is that, in spite of the deficiency in his leadership, the senior leader probably still has something he can teach the younger leader. S0, be respectful. There will likely be other occasions in his leadership where he will have to display respect to someone even if he doesn’t agree with them. Maybe just to keep his job. Maybe even to be obedient to Scripture. (Romans 13)
The fact is the way we honor those we don’t naturally respect says a lot about our character.
But, the other thing I would say. And, I think this is huge.
You can learn good principles under bad leadership.
You can. You can learn what not to do by watching what others do wrong. Right now this young leader is developing good leadership practices by acknowledging what has injured him that he would never do to injure someone he is leading.
Prepare now for how you’ll lead then.
We will always need better leaders. Be one. And, if you’re serving under a critical, non-supportive leader, you’re in a great training ground.
I have been in church revitalization for almost 3 years in the church where I currently serve as pastor. My first church some 13 years ago was a church in need of revitalization. In between, I’ve been a part of two church plants.
Even more, I’ve worked with dozens of pastors in church revitalization and church planting. Along the way, God has blessed us with some success and I’ve tried to learn some things — and pass them along here.
For example, I’ve learned there are some commonalities among pastors who can successfully revitalize an established church.
Here are 7 attributes of pastors who do church revitalization:
Calling. I don’t recommend church revitalization to anyone unless they have a clear calling from God. I believe God often gives tremendous latitude in allowing us to choose where we serve, but church revitalization appears to be a unique calling — one I’d be certain God has called you to do. Honestly, it’s the same for church planters, but, in my experience, it’s easier to plant a church. Starting completely over is usually easier than trying to revive an established church that has been in decline. (That’s just my opinion, but it’s based on experience.) And we need lots of church plants. I don’t have statistics to back it up, but there has to be more Kingdom money in established, but declining churches than the total invested in recent years in church planting. We need church revitalization — if for no other reason to be good stewards of Kingdom resources.
Supportive spouse. As in church planting — or any ministry — if you’re married, the spouse plays a huge role. But, to be honest, in church revitalization, Cheryl’s part has been one of the hardest parts for me personally. I have the greatest pastor’s wife. She genuinely loves people. There are days, however, when people with no filter chose my wife as a punching bag for their frustration with me. It happens almost every time we announce a change. (I’ve made it very clear that is not an acceptable response, and it’s gotten better with time, but it still occasionally happens.) But, that never happened in church planting. And, might not happen as often if we left everything alone and didn’t try to revitalize. The bottom line though is that Cheryl felt we were being called to this. In fact, she sensed it before I did. (She almost always does when it comes to matters of faith.)
Love of history and tradition. The key here is that you’re in revitalization. It’s not demolition. You’re leading a church to rediscover their past. If they don’t have a past worth rediscovering — then demolition might be a better option. Give. up and go plant a church. But, revitalization will involve celebrating some of the great moments from history. Along the way, there will be traditions worth maintaining. They are culture — DNA — and they work towards the mission they just need new energy behind them.
Entrepreneurial spirit. I’ve heard those who love “new” say they’d get bored in revitalization. Not! In addition to loving what’s old, it helps greatly to love all things new. And, this attribute and the last one are rare as a combination. It’s unusual to love history and tradition and have an entrepreneurial spirit. You can’t leave things exactly as you found them and expect the church to revive. Revitalization involves change. The heart of a planter, if they can live with the other attributes needed, works well in church revitalization.
Patience. It won’t be easy and you will not be able to move as fast as you can in church planting. The delicate balance between preserving DNA while encouraging change will be challenging at times. To be successful, you’ll need to honor the past while you push towards the future. That takes patience. (And, frankly you’ll have more somedays than others.)
Visionary. A church revitalization pastor receives a call and then grasps a God-given vision for what could be. It’s a strong enough vision to provide the tenacity to see it to fruition and to be able to cast in a powerful enough way where people are willing to follow.
Resilience. Dictionary.com defines resilience as “the power or ability to return to the original position after being stretched.” Yea, that. No, doubt you’ll be stretched as a church revitalizing pastor. And that also requires perseverance. Dictionary.com defines perseverance as “steady persistence in a course of action”. And, yea, that too. You’ll have set backs. There will be days you think you’re making progress only to realize people are upset about the color of the carpet. Through it all, you’ll have to keep going to be successful. And, if God called you to it then you will be.
My goal is not to scare you away from church revitalization. We need some who will take up the calling. My goal is for you to be prepared — and ultimately — to be successful.
It’s Christmas time again. Seems to come every year about this time. The most wonderful time of the year.
There’ll be parties for hosting
Marshmallows for toasting
And caroling out in the snow
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories
Of Christmases long, long ago
It’s the most wonderful time of the year
(That could almost be a song. Wait a minute — I think it is.)
But, if you’re like many of us, Christmas will be over before you took time to enjoy it. You might even get past Christmas, realize how fast it passed, and so you set some new year’s resolutions to slow down and — maybe — enjoy Christmas more next year.
What if you could do that this year? Why not? Sounds like a good goal to me. Enjoy the celebration of Christmas. The birth of our Savior. Relish the time with family. Savor every moment.
Here are 7 suggestions to make this the best Christmas ever:
Set a limit on expenditures. Something happens when Christmas becomes more about the value of the gifts than the value of the season. More, more, more only produces energy in a direction that can never really be sustained. (Read Ecclesiastes 5:10) Start with a budget. Be realistic. Stop comparing. One problem for many of us is that we are trying to compete with everyone else. Obviously, if you have more money you can spend more money (and less — less). But, make it your goal to invest more in people this year than in things you can buy. And, don’t feel obligated or pressured to buy gifts you can’t afford for people. It will only be a temporary satisfaction and produce a lot of guilt in the new year when you see those credit card bills start arriving in the mail. (And, usually the guilt starts as soon as the cashier hands you the receipt or you push the purchase button online.)
Set boundaries in relationships. This is especially true for younger couples and families, but really for most of us. You can feel pressured by extended family and friends to be a dozen different places. Remember, you aren’t responsible for pleasing everyone — in fact — you can’t. It’s impossible. (Some have a harder time with that than others.) Don’t let everyone else determine your Christmas schedule. You may have to have some difficult, but direct conversations with relatives or friends. Again, be realistic. You can’t be everywhere. There are some places you can’t (or shouldn’t) avoid, but, as much as possible, control your schedule rather than having it controlled by others.
Plan and prioritize your time. This is similar, but also includes how we spend our own time at Christmas. There are usually more demands for our time than time for our demands. Just as you did in creating a money budget, create a time budget. Set aside some time for you to celebrate Christmas as an immediate family — or in a way where you best celebrate. Then build around that time. It’s okay to say no. (Do you need to read that sentence again?) If you don’t, you’ll run out of time before you feel you ever really celebrated. It’s hard, but again, you’re trying to actually celebrate Christmas — the birth of baby Jesus. That’s hard to do when you have lost all control of your time.
Lower your expectations. That you have on others and on yourself. Sometimes we set very unrealistic expectations on what others will buy or how they will respond to what we buy. We look for the “perfect” gift — to give or receive — and our enjoyment of Christmas is based on that search — rather than the real joy of the season. We also set unrealistic expectations on relationships. We watch too many Hallmark Christmas movies where everything works out in the end to the perfect holiday celebration and when it doesn’t happen at our house quite like that we get disappointed. Remember, we aren’t characters in a movie. We are characters in real life. Real life is almost never perfect. Learn to enjoy your celebration with all the quirkiness that makes your family unique from every other family. (Because every family is quirky in some way — in real life.)
Practice health disciplines. Sometimes in the name of “celebrating” we over do it only to have guilt about it later. Don’t overeat or over-indulge. You will occasionally – it’s part of the season — but, be reasonable. Keep exercising. Sample rather than eat full portions. You’ll feel better and have less regrets after the holidays have ended.
Serve others. Find and establish a Christmas tradition of service. Whether it’s serving at a food kitchen, ringing the bell for the Salvation Army, or just picking up trash along the side of the road, you’ll better appreciate Christmas when you serve. The real meaning of Christmas is based around serving others. The baby born at Christmas came to be a servant. The best way to celebrate His birth is to give back expecting nothing in return. You’ll be the bigger recipient when you do.
Remember the reason for the season. Yea, I saved the best and most important for last. On purpose. It’s also the one we push to last if we aren’t careful and the ultimate purpose of this post, so I wanted it to be the last impression on your mind. Jesus — the reason for the season. It’s simple — even cliche, but, it’s true and it’s powerful — if you do it genuinely. In the midst of the madness, rediscover the miracle of Christmas. A Savior — who is Christ the Lord — has been born to you. Establish a tradition that helps you best identify with the true meaning of Christmas. You could take time to explore a character of the Christmas story you’ve not considered previously. Research elements of the setting and culture. Read the major passages in Matthew and Luke repeatedly through the season. Listen to only Christmas music. Attend special Christmas services. Whatever works for you. Be intentional to practice celebrating the real joy of Christmas.
Not all of these will apply to everyone, but my guess is if there are a couple here you need to work on — to better celebrate Christmas — you already knew it. As we begin the rush of the Christmas season, pause right now, take a few deep breaths, and let’s make this the best Christmas ever.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
I talk to so many leaders who get so frustrated because they never seem to accomplish as much as they set out to do. Most of the time the reason is a fairly simple one.
They used the wrong approach to the work.
Many times as leaders we try to accomplish too many tasks in one day. We don’t create a realistic checklist — just an overwhelming mass of things we “need” to do.
It makes us feel ineffective in all our tasks.
I call that the shotgun approach.
It’s running from task to task to task to task. At the end of the day you’ve done a lot of things, but none of them very well.
And, all of us have some days like that. They’re sometimes unavoidable.
But, here’s my leadership suggestion. As much as possible — and doing otherwise should be the exception, not the rule…
Use the rifle approach.
The rifle approach is to carefully plan a realistic list of activities each day. It’s having specific objectives, and ranking them from the most important to the least important.
Then it’s as simple as checking off each item as you work through the list, accomplishing as many as you feasibly can per day.
And, you leave most everyday with a sense of accomplishment. (That’s sounds good, doesn’t it?)
You will be surprised how much more you can accomplish when you use the rifle approach to planning instead of the shotgun approach.
Sometimes we make leading harder than it has to be.
This is a guest post from Dave Gipson. Dave serves as pastor of Legacy Church, Naples, FL. Read more insights from him at DaveGipson.net, or email him at DaveGipson@hotmail.com. I needed this reminder. Thanks Dave.
Five Things Every Staff Wishes Their Pastor Knew
I remember the first time someone called me “pastor” and it finally felt normal.
Actually, I only thought they were saying “pastor”. I was in a Starbucks I frequent, and someone called out something like “faster”. It could have even been “disaster”, but I’ve been called that before. But after I turned around to look, I caught myself – I guess I really am a pastor now!
I’d served on church staffs for over 25 years, but always as a supporting minister.
Working for pastors has allowed me a vantage point few other pastors have experienced. I’ve witnessed them under great pressure, sometimes dealing with very human fears.
So through a renewed perspective as a pastor myself, here are some key lessons I’ve gleaned from the pastors I’ve served…
“Others around me are just as called to ministry”
I’ve noticed now it’s easy to think my sermon is the only thing that matters on a given Sunday. But in truth, the proclamation of the Gospel should occur during the “sung Word” (music) and the “taught Word” (Bible study classes) as well.
Hopefully, I’m not the only one in the building preaching the Gospel. If I am, it’s really a pretty lousy Sunday after all.
“Yes, pastors carry a great burden. But so do others – don’t be a martyr”
While I now feel that burden quite keenly, being a support staff member is tough as well. Sometimes even more so. Why? Because there’s nothing like being at the mercy of another man’s vision (or lack of it).
I’ve noticed I may be more reactive than proactive at times, settling for the way things are when my church is ready to move forward. During those times when I hesitate, those serving under me are in even greater need of faith and patience. They must put up with my limitations and still trust God is leading through me. And if you really knew me, you’d know that takes quite a lot of faith!
“While I may get most of the complaints, I also get most of the credit. So spread the success around”
With responsibility, the buck does stop with the pastor..but too often do many of the rewards as well. While my ministry can certainly help my church, it’s only through many others serving faithfully each week that I have this platform.
One of the most important things I do at each service is thank people. I heard a lady complaining recently about volunteering with a civic organization in our area. She was becoming bitter thinking no one appreciated her hard work. But all her frustration went away when one person in leadership gave her a hug and said, “We appreciate you and all you do”. Seriously, that was all she needed.
It’s easy to forget that for many faithful volunteers, my “thank you” is all the payment they’ll ever receive this side of heaven. So you never can say “thank you” too much – to staff, volunteers, even to the congregation for just showing up!
“Yes, staff members should be loyal to their pastor…but don’t expect more loyalty than I’m willing to give them”
One troubling trend today is treating staff members as if they’re disposable. Sure, every pastor with multiple staff will eventually have to fire someone. But a few pastors demand a level of loyalty from others we’re unwilling to reciprocate. Expect only the devotion from staff you are willing to give them. If they feel “disposable”, they’ll mostly produce disposable work.
Learn their kid’s names, let their wives know they’re special, make a real effort to get to know as many of them personally as possible. And in a related subject…
“Much of my ‘loneliness at the top’ could be easily remedied, but I must make the first move”
I’ve noticed some of the greatest pastors are incredibly lonely people. After being burned by betrayers, some insulate themselves and avoid friendships with staff members. Maybe we’re afraid if we’re too transparent as human beings, people won’t respect us as leaders.
One of my best friendships was with a pastor while serving on his staff. I remember spending holidays with our families together at his lake house. As a young father, I got the vantage point of seeing an experienced dad up close leading his own family. I grew to love and respect him as more than just my pastor. I discovered he was a Godly man I wanted to follow as well.
However, none of this would have happened had he not first reached out to invite me in. Our position can be intimidating to others, no matter how approachable we may be. If we’re going to have friendships with staff, it has to be our “ask”. I would have never felt confident enough to make the first move had my pastor not first reached out to me.
It’s through the Godly examples of my pastors I’ve learned these lessons. But you can learn them as well. All you have to do is listen to your staff, with discernment and an open heart. You’ll be surprised what they can tell you about yourself and good leadership…if you’re only willing to listen.
I’m not a huge rule-maker. I like to operate in freedom and so I try to leader others that way. I’m strict about very few things.
(Can I be completely honest? — I’d rather break a rule than keep one. Certainly I love to write better rules.)
I’m a little different on Christmas Eve.
I’m strict. I write rules. An ole’ controlling leader.
Our ministerial staff works on Christmas Eve.
Period. No excuses.
That’s harsh, isn’t it?
Christmas Eve is a big deal in this church. Always has been. Long before I became pastor.
We now have 3 services to accommodate crowds, but the church has always had one packed service that is live on television. Near 100,000 people in our region watch the show and the past couple years we’ve rebroadcast the show several times on Christmas Day. It’s somewhat of a community event.
But, there’s another reason.
Culturally speaking, Christmas has in many ways become the new Easter. Not theologically of course. You can’t trump the resurrection, but as an opportunity to reach lost people.
They’ll come at Christmas. It’s a culturally acceptable thing to do. A familiar affair. Get dressed up (or not) and gather together to sing familiar Christmas songs. It’s a great family tradition.
And, who can’t love a baby in a manger story? You can attract people at Christmas like no other time of the year.
We would never think of staff missing Easter. It’s an “all hands on deck” kind of day.
So, I make Christmas Eve a priority and require our staff to be here.
(Now, in complete transparency, if there were extenuating circumstances with a staff member we would certainly consider them.)
And, sure, it’s difficult on families to understand. I get that. My family has to sacrifice also. We live 4 hours from our family and we now miss Christmas Eve together.
But, if we had a job as a policeman or at a hospital emergency room, no one would question why we had to work. It comes with the job.
And, in church work, Christmas Eve, if it’s done well, can be a great part of the job. Lives are at stake. It’s a vital work. An “all hands on deck” kind of day.
I don’t do a lot of guest posts on this blog, but my friend Dr. Jennifer Degler. Jennifer keeps putting together great ones that I want to share. Here’s another. Jennifer served on the search team that brought me to Immanuel. She shares from her experience.
6 Resume Mistakes Pastors Make and Tips for Correcting Them
Having reviewed over 700 resumes while serving on a pastor search committee, I saw the good, the bad, and the oh-my-goodness-what-were-they-thinking. Here are six common resume mistakes pastors make and tips for correcting them:
1) Taking credit for what God did: Most commonly seen in statements like “I increased attendance from 300 to 600” or “I increased giving 20%.” Unless you personally drove 300 additional people to church each Sunday and wrote a really big check, you didn’t increase attendance or giving. You preached, supervised staff, planned worship services, etc., and then God did a work in people’s hearts that led to them attending and giving at your church. It would be more correct (and humble) to say “attendance increased from 300 to 600” or “giving increased 20%.” (Side note: don’t go too far in the other direction and trip over yourself in an effort to give God the glory, as in “attendance doubled, praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!” This just makes you look overly excitable.)
2) Inflating attendance numbers: Do not report your Easter Sunday attendance as if it’s your average attendance. If you say “Sunday morning worship attendance increased from 60 to 200” the pastor search committee (PSC) will interpret this to mean 200 people attended your church service each week. If your church reports numbers to your denomination, the PSC will request those reports, and what your resume says should match up with what the church secretary reported. It may be more accurate to say “Sunday morning worship attendance increased from 60 to an average of 150 with a high of 200.”
3) Forgetting your resume’s audience: In many cases, PSC’s are composed of professional people over 40, with an average age close to 50. Design your resume so it will appeal to people in this age bracket. Your font should be no smaller than 12 point. If you are a younger person, do not assume all committee members will have your level of technological comfort. Don’t waste your time on a clever, high tech resume that can only be viewed as a Powerpoint or Prezi type presentation.
4) Referring to preaching as teaching: See #3 above. Perhaps because of the relatively new title “Teaching Pastor,” people below 40 may refer to preaching as teaching. People aged 50 and above typically view preaching and teaching as two different activities. If you gave sermons, call it preaching. Otherwise, the PSC may think you were teaching a class each Sunday.
5) Wordiness/Being repetitive: As in “planned, organized, and led three mission trips.” Yes, our God is a trinity, but that doesn’t mean you need three descriptors or verbs in each sentence. Wordiness exhausts your reader. Brevity is next to godliness when it comes to resumes. Which of these do you find clearer and more powerful? “My objective is to pastor a life-giving, Jesus-centered, disciple-making, sending, welcoming to all, outwardly reaching church” or “My objective is to pastor a welcoming, Jesus-centered church that makes and sends passionate disciples.”
6) Not checking references’ contact information: Before you send out your resume, provide your references with the contact information you plan to provide for them. This way they can check for accuracy and their preferred methods of contact. Do not assume everyone is okay with you giving out their cell phone number. Medical and mental health professionals may be particularly protective of their personal numbers, so always confirm their preferred numbers for contact.