Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some helpful leadership thoughts

Chris Davis, of Whitton Avenue Bible Church, shared this list of leadership principles with me that he received from a pastor in the Phoenix area. Good stuff. Italics are my comments:
  1. When approaching any change in an organization, start EVERY sentence/paragraph with "For now..." so people are OK with change when it happens (meaning... "we're testing this out and it may not be permanent, so don't freak out.")
  2. Be yourself.  There is a tendency to overemphasize your importance... ..and undervalue your uniqueness.  i.e. no movement is doomed if you die off or stop being a part of it. Don't forget that. You're not that important. The world will go on without you. Yet you do have a unique way of looking at things that adds value to the organization. Don't minimize that either.
  3. There is a difference between preferences and criticisms. --"It's too loud" is a preference. "You stink" is a criticism. Weigh your criticisms differently, based on who gives it. 
  4. Have a few key people around you who speak into the ministry.
  5. You HAVE to communicate. You have to explain why you're doing something, what will happen if you DON'T do it, and what you hope will happen if you DO do it.  This pastor shared an illustration of announcing for 6 weeks that they would need help setting up chairs for easter, then the day before easter 100's of people called the church office asking if they would have chairs.  If they don't get chairs, they won't get your nuanced missional vision for the city. Remember,You are thinking about this stuff 24/7. Others are not.) This reminded me of a saying I often quote by Dennis Rainey. He says that just about the time when you think you are absolutely sick of talking about something, where you can't imagine even saying it again for any reason, that is the time when most people are just beginning to hear it for the first time.He also said "Communication is the life-blood of an organization."
  6. Everyone is watching you.  It's not fair, but they are.  You can't be the exception to every rule. Chris relayed a story from this pastor when he was asked to move to the front of a food line and refusing for the above reason. You can't always break the rules and expect others to follow. I've appreciated Dennis' example of not taking first class flights (except for free upgrades) because of the precedent it establishes. 
  7. You have to be patient.  Time is your friend, not your enemy. Be a patient dreamer. Hmmm... something our political leaders could appreciate.
  8. Discipleship and raising up leaders are far more important than attendance. Ouch. This is a tough one. For most churches "growth" has come to singularly mean "more people attending on Sunday mornings." This is HARD because it is not nearly as measurable. 
  9. Nobody cares and you're not going to make a huge difference. i.e. keep your short life in perspective. The pastor shared a story of a MLB pitching coach who was illustrating a principle by talking about Sandy Koufax to a new crop of young players. The players said, "Who is Sandy Koufax?" Wow. How quickly we forget. He also noted the fact that you can buy full collections Chuck Swindoll's books packaged together in tiny print for a few dollars. He used to be the hottest preacher around! IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.  If you can get your ego out of the way, it will be so much easier to make decisions.
 I have some further thoughts to share on number 5 in the coming days...

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