The Gift of Leadership

Leadership is important in every situation.

When the general yells, “Charge!” the soldiers had better run forward ready for battle.

When the CEO says, “We need a software update.” the engineers will begin brainstorming ideas for the next version.

When the Pastor says, “We need to add more Bible study classes.” the church can expect to discuss and may or may not decide what to do about a deficiency in the Bible study hour.

All three of these are leadership, but did you notice how different they are?  One is dictatorial, barking orders that will be followed instantly and without question. Another recognizes a need but unleashes others to work out all the details only maintaining loose oversight. The last one points out a problem, allows others to discuss and decide what do even if the decision is not what he was hoping for.

The point of this exercise is to help remind us that different styles of leadership are appropriate in different situations. If a surgeon ever wants to operate on you and promises to handle the surgical staff democratically, find a new doctor.  Why? Because if a vein is nicked you don’t want him calling for discussion or forming a committee to study it. You want him to fix it. Immediately, before you bleed to death.  You want your surgeon to be dictator.

On the other side of the coin if you are in a volunteer position and someone in the group, leader or one of the other volunteers, is ordering everyone around and refuses to discuss anything, you can expect the volunteers to thin out.  Quickly.  Volunteers almost always want to have a voice in their work, and not just have orders barked at them.  In other words, volunteers want their leaders to be teambuilders.

When it comes to the church, you are working with volunteers.  In a Baptist church it probably has a member empowering, congregational method of carrying out decision making.  Leadership in a situation like that requires learning a different skill set than leadership in business, in the military, or in academia.

In church leadership, the goal should not be getting the church to do what you want.  Instead in some cases it will be, helping the church see what the Lord wants and enabling them to follow Him.  In other cases, it isn’t obvious what best serves the Lord.  For example, maintenance and upgrade issues of the buildings, equipment and even the programs will likely not be addressed by Scripture. In these cases, the church leader should help the church see what it wants and enable them to accomplish it.

It is more important to have unity in the group than to have things done any certain way.  In fact, it more important to have unity in the group than to have things done the best way.  It is better to be unified with problems than to be broken apart and ‘perfect’.  It is better to be thriving and chaotic than to be well oiled machine that is losing membership left and right.

This makes church leadership frustrating for people who have lead in other arenas successfully.  Nevertheless, if they can adjust their style of leadership sufficiently, a person with the gift of leadership can be one of the greatest assets a church has.

Advertisements

Wrong Workers

Recently I had said I would begin talking about church politics from time to time rather than always talking about national politics.

This past Sunday I was not in my own church, as it happened the church I attended had their Pastor to Students bring the message. I thought the young man seemed very nervous but one point he addressed really got my attention. I found it to be so valuable I am making it the focus of today’s post.

I believe God designs His church. Not just in the universal sense, but also in terms of local congregations.  He brings needs to the church, and He brings His choice of workers to the church. The advice the young man gave the church, passed on to him by a mentor was, “When you see a need in the church, let it be a need until God fills the need.”

Churches are often blessed by people who have a can-do attitude. They will volunteer to fill any need they see in the church. These people can be a tremendous blessing. Capable people who will take initiative are a wonderful thing in any church—Right up until they become a curse.

I have seen it happen a few different ways. Once I saw a person who felt the ministry owed them something for all their hard work. Soon they were stealing from the ministry. I have seen lesser examples when people begin to express they can do things better than other people and force those others out of ministry.  I have seen people who began to feel that because of their level of involvement their vote should carry more weight than other members. Numerous times I have seen people wear themselves out and quit altogether, often with a big show blaming someone else.

All of these things came about because people took on more of the work in the church than they should. Ultimately they did this because they failed to trust God to supply the workers.

When I say it like that it seems so obvious, but in the flow of the life of the church it’s anything but obvious. Helpful people are always appreciated. Workers are never turned away. We always need more volunteers. At least we think so. What we really need is the patience and insight to use the workers that God has chosen, selected and gifted for a ministry.