The majority of my life has been spent either leading or wanting to lead or feeling like I should be leading. Leadership has been on my radar a long time. As I notice leaders who inspire me and leaders that seem most effective, one thing is clear in most of them. They have a limp. Not a physical limp, but a spiritual or professional limp brought on by failing, sometimes failing many times. What do I mean by that? It means that humility, compassion and the ability to relate to the people they lead is a major part of their leadership package. They know what it is like to win and lose on this leadership journey.
The Bible says to “not think more highly of yourself than you ought to” which I believe is the most important part of leading. If you don’t have that attitude you will look down upon the people you lead as being less than you and will never really be looking to promote or expand someone else’s leadership role. You see this most of the time with leaders who never give away leadership of major projects because no one can do it as good as them. That does two things, it makes a culture where people will not think on their own and will feel like they have to ask for permission to do everything AND it will run off the good potential leaders you have. I mainly work with churches in the area of leadership and organizational development. One of the biggest failures I see in churches who are stuck numerically is they have not recruited and released leaders, so those leaders move on to an organization that will make room for their leadership dreams and skills.
So when you are tempted to just do something because it is easier to just “do it myself” think about that unassuming potential leader who has experienced failure and humbly serves in the background. Give them an opportunity! The limp that they lead with is powerful because people can feel the humility and want to follow someone like that.
Over the past 10 years I have helped and served many churches and organizations in the area of staff development. It seems that many times we are able to hire or find the right person for a position, then we leave them to fend for themselves without much support, ongoing training, or helping them to develop into stronger leaders or employees. It cost a lot less to invest in your current staff than to turn over staff. My advice is, if you don’t have the time, energy, or skill to develop your current staff, I would be happy to talk to you about a comprehensive plan of organizational and staff development. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success. Own your failures and move on.
As I consult and coach with many people and organizations, one thing seems to always come up when talking about leaders and leadership. It goes something like this. “So and so is a hard worker and a great leader, always gets a lot done, works a lot of hours and is very competent”
Now I am not saying that great leaders are not hard workers, but just because you are competent at something does not mean you can lead others to be effective, and just because you find someone who is very effective at a certain task does not mean they should be the point person for that task. Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less as my friend John Maxwell says, so if you or the person you are wanting to lead does a great job but is not able to influence others to do what they are effective at, what you have is a very valuable doer, but not a leader. A leader would recruit, train, release many to do the task, see the challenges and opportunities and navigate from a different perspective. And then they would be on to the next thing, looking for competent people to help achieve the next goal.
Being competent does not make you a leader, but part of being a leader is being competent. Next time you are tempted to put someone in charge of a department or project, don’t just look at their effectiveness, look to see if anyone is following them and do they have influence. Put a leader over that department, and watch it grow!
For 17 years I have hosted a worship leader retreat for worship folks of all kinds. This past week was the most recent installment of that event. This event has been many different sizes over the years, reaching around 250 at one point, but I have found that a group between 25 and 40 is the best size for community to happen, and ground to be fertile for growth. As we ended the time at the YMCA of the Rockies on Thursday night, we realized that we did not have one session about leading worship or having anything to do with the practical aspect of worship. What we did talk about during our sessions and devotions was deeper. Forgiveness, how to treat people, being a servant in your leadership, taking care of issues in your life now and not waiting until they stack up and become overwhelming. We all know, if you take care of those things, the other elements of being an effective, mature worship leader will be much easier. Don’t cheat the people that you lead into God’s presence each week by not going to the deeper parts of being a worship leader/pastor. It is about much more than being able to sing or play really well or have “the look”