Two Common Hiring Mistakes to Avoid In Your Next Staffing Decision

Every hire is a risk. Every time I have hired someone or have been hired, there was a risk involved. Some argue that proven track records eliminate the risk, but in reality a great history only minimizes the risk. Even when hiring someone who has a proven track record, it is hard to separate the individual’s performance from the organization’s performance. For example, we have seen great assistant coaches hired to be head coaches with dismal results. And sometimes when the coach returns to an assistant role, he is unable to reclaim the “mojo” he once had. In those cases, clearly it was the system around him at his former school that lifted his performance above his capacity. Thus the hire was a risk, as all hires are.

The risk in hiring can be minimized, but it can’t be eliminated. To help you minimize the risk in your staff hires, below are two of the most common hiring mistakes you must avoid making in church ministry.

Mistake One: Hiring the Best

Many church leaders and churches have gone down a common hiring path. They (a) identify a role they want to fill and then (b) search for the “best person” to fill the role. I have heard many senior pastors describe the desire to “hire the best and give immense amounts of freedom.” One proudly told me his hiring strategy was simply to “hire thoroughbreds and let them run.”

While “hiring the best” may sound wise, the practice can easily lead to disastrous division. Imagine a staff meeting where directors of student ministry, small group ministry, and children’s ministry are seated around the same table. They have been recently recruited with the promise of “freedom to run.” And because they are the “best,” they are strong leaders with a solid track record of execution. They are able to put ministry philosophy into practice, able to implement and make “it” happen. But as they are seated around the same table, each has a different understanding of the “it” that needs to happen. They have different convictions about where the church should head and how ministry should be executed. Quickly, the strong leaders with differing philosophies of ministry will lead, as they were recruited to do, in a plethora of directions. And they will take the church with them.

Instead of seeking to hire the best leaders, seek to hire the right leaders. The right leaders hold deeply to the ministry philosophy of the church and the values that make her unique. With the right leaders, there is strong overlap between their personal ministry philosophy and values and that of the church. In other words, what matters to the church also matters deeply to the staff member.

Does wanting the “right” leaders mean you don’t look for the “best” leaders? Absolutely not! A team of strong leaders passionate about the same values and focused in the same direction is truly powerful. However, the “best” leader is only best for the ministry/organization if there is alignment on both philosophy and values. To check alignment around ministry philosophy, you need to know both your church’s philosophy of ministry and the values that guide how you minister.

Philosophy Alignment

Your church’s ministry philosophy is essentially your church’s collective thinking about ministry, specifically how ministry should look in your specific context. The right leaders hold deeply to the theology and the philosophy of the church. It is a massive mistake to only hire people who ascribe to the church’s doctrinal statement or creed because it is very possible to have theological alignment without philosophical alignment. And while theological alignment is essential, alignment around ministry philosophy is equally important.

At one church I consulted there were two staff leaders who theologically held to the same soteriology, the same view of eternal hell, and the same passion for evangelism. Yet philosophically, their view of how to lead a church to engage the culture evangelistically was diametrically opposed. They both were recruited to the same staff team on theological alignment alone, and because they were so different in philosophy and practice they were leading (even unintentionally) the church in multiple directions.

Values Alignment

Your “church values” are not what you do, but they affect everything you do. They are the shared passions and convictions that inform your unique church culture. For example, two churches of similar size and doctrinal positions offer “worship services” that on the surface sound the same: 30 minutes of music and 40 minutes of biblical teaching. Yet when you visit them, they are very different. Perhaps church A deeply values “authenticity,” and that value manifests itself in everything from the subtle greeters to the transparency in the teaching. Church B values “hospitality,” and that feels very different. It’s not as if church A is not hospitable and church A is inauthentic, but the pronounced values distinctly mark the culture of each church.

Obviously you want to hire staff that hold to the actual values (values already in place) of the church. Additionally, if your church has some aspirational values (values you have identified that you long to embed in the culture but are not currently), then also look for staff who possess these values.

First, identify your ministry philosophy and the values (both actual and aspirational) that make your church who she is. Then look for the right players. And as you do, consider carefully the second mistake.

Mistake Two: Hiring from the Inside (or Outside)

Often church leaders make a grave mistake when they hire from outside their church instead of raising up a leader from within the body. The opposite is equally true; often church leaders hire from the inside when they should look outside the church for a new leader.

Hiring from within is both the safe and risky option. It is safe because you are able to observe the person’s character and service before he/she even knows a staff role exists. And as an insider, the person has already committed to the ministry philosophy and values of the church. From a discipleship vantage point, hiring from within helps set a mindset and expectation that “our church raises up her own leaders.” The risk is that there is still a risk, and if the new staff member doesn’t work out, it will be much more painful to move an insider off the team.

Hiring from outside the church gives an opportunity for a fresh perspective and to acquire some leadership experience needed for the church’s next season of ministry. For example, the church may be entering a season of expansion or growth and an outsider who has a track record of experience related to what a church needs could be very helpful. At the same time, an insider could be developed for the task. But in some cases, the development will fall well short of the skills that past experience provides.

So how do you know if you should hire from the inside or the outside?

I have found John Kotter’s insight to be helpful. Kotter is a Harvard professor and leadership guru. He teaches that if you want to change the culture, you should hire from the outside. If you want to sustain or build upon the current culture, you should hire from within. If the culture is healthy within a particular department within your church, look first to hire from within. Only look outside if there are skills and experience needed that can’t be developed within your church in a reasonable matter of time. If the culture is unhealthy or you desire to change the culture with an infusion of some new values and leadership, look to hire externally.

I have put together a simple chart (seen below) to help you think through the decision to hire from within or from the outside. I hope it serves you well. While only one box indicates you should “hire from within,” some churches execute the majority of their hires from this vantage point because they posses a strong, equipping culture.

Every hire is a risk; therefore, every hire requires faith. Ultimately all of the above is mere fodder when the Lord makes it clear who the next leader should be. So while I wrote this article so that we could hone our hiring strategy, I want to listen carefully to the voice of the Lord whose foolishness is wiser than our wisdom and who, as in the case of king David, often selects leaders that we tend to consider last. For while we tend to look at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (I Samuel 16:7).

Read more from Eric here.

Learn how to maximize the value of your hiring process. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Natural Flow of Leadership Development

I’m finding more and more pastors who are getting discouraged with the lack of leaders in their leadership pipeline.  The problem is serious because if there’s a lack of leaders then the growth of the church will be hindered.  Not just numerical growth but spiritual depth as well.  How you as a leader respond to this crisis is crucial.

Some leaders will complain but take no action. There’s a deceptive sense of hope that somehow in time things will magically get better.  Or they hope a leadership development program, idea or person will come along and turn everything around.  But hope is not a strategy.  The end result…nothing changes.

Other leaders acknowledge the problem and assign a task force to figure out how to populate their undersupplied pipeline.  This is a positive step but typically the leader removes himself from the process.  After a series of meetings the team tells him about their plan, projections and promise of a leadership revolution.  He blesses it and tells them to put it into action.  Then six to twelve months later the efforts have faded and they’re none the better for the efforts.

Finally there is a road less traveled…the senior leader integrates himself as part of the solution.  This doesn’t mean he is the brainchild of the leadership development strategy.  It doesn’t mean he is the point person.  Nor does it mean that he turns himself into a leadership development superman cranking out dozens of new leaders.  But it does mean he understands, believes in and is personally engaged in the leaderships development strategy.  The primary leader doesn’t have to create the system, but he must use it. Only then will you begin to see signs of your pipeline being replenished.

Why is this true? There is a guiding principle that every senior leader must pay close attention to if they are serious about building a culture of leadership development.  Here it is:  Leadership development flows down not up.  When your senior leadership team gets it then your staff will get it.  When your staff gets it your directors will get it.  When your directors get it your volunteer leaders will get it. Leadership development flows down.  And when it flows down you will see leaders grow up through your pipeline.

Read more from Mac here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mac Lake

Mac Lake

I am the Chief Launch Officer of The Launch Network, a new church planting network based out of West Ridge Church in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. My role is to get The Launch Network up and running, networking with churches and planters to establish healthy church starts across the U.S. and the world. Our goal is to plant 1000 churches in the next 10 years. My passion is growing leaders for the local church. Every time I hear Bill Hybels say “The local church is the hope of the world” my heart comes out of my chest and it increases my sense of urgency for developing leaders who produce leaders.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Principles for Raising Up New Leaders in Your Church

1. Exemplary in overall character. They lead and shepherd by example. And no area of leadership is insignificant in this respect. If he oversees the greeters, he does so with grace, patience, and diligence. If he shepherds a small group of 2 other men, he doesn’t berate them for not doing their reading that week. He sets the tone by his example. He gets people motivated by his observable diligence and enthusiasm. Overall his life is photocopy-able (1 Pet 5:3), erring on the side of taking more time than less to observe this. Others should already be able to identify them as someone who can be modeled.

2. Competency as a shepherd and/or leadership characteristics. They are showing clear signs of a biblical shepherd. If they are going to be involved in something like shepherding a home group, its best to ensure they are a deacon or already known as a capable shepherd by existing leadership, including a potential ability to teach (1 Tim 3: 1-71 Pet 5:2-3). They must already have visible and competent influence in the church, especially for more formal disciple-making roles. We should ask, “Who is already being impacted by them?” and, “Who is already receiving some biblical care by this person?” People in the flock should point to this person as someone who they are already following at some level. This is an area where many leadership teams err; namely, by presumptuously appointing leaders. Simultaneously, many presumptuously assume they should be leading others (i.e. a Bible study, small group, etc.) with no wake of sanctified souls to show, by God’s grace. No one should presume they are ready for shepherding/leadership in such a capacity if they do not have at least a handful of souls who have been observably transformed more into the image of Christ because of their competent care.

3. Exemplary in mistakes. One of my mentors (who patiently took risks with me) used to tell us, “The higher you climb up the flagpole, the more everyone can see your tail.” Whether overseeing the meal ministry or chair set-up or preaching, leaders’ mistakes are magnified. They just have to embrace the fact. So, the way they respond to their own sin and failures in leadership needs to be exemplary as well. They humbly acknowledge mistakes and demonstrate a genuine quickness and sincerity in confessing sins and asking forgiveness (1 Pet 5:3). This is important even in the small things. Beware of the one who seems to shift the blame, even in little things.

4. Unity with current leadership. This point cannot be overemphasized. Before planting the church, some wise elders told our team, “It doesn’t matter much who you minister to; but who you minister with is everything.” Unity is the necessary fertile ground to bloom a healthy ministry. And unity should include doctrinal and philosophical unity. Rising leaders in the local church, then, need to competently articulate the doctrine and philosophy of ministry of the local church while being united with it. They should have demonstrated a pattern of humble and eager unity in the church through membership.. They can’t be the one you hear about who maintains a distance or quietly chatters about the leadership to others in the church. That is in no way to say that leadership are unapproachable. On the contrary. But he approaches them privately, to preserve the relationship, protect the leadership’s reputation, and recognize those whom God has put over him. A humble loyalty ought to characterize a future leader’s demeanor towards the leadership in order to preserve Christ’s reputation (John 17:20-23Eph 4:3Phil 2:1-5).

5. Submission to current leadership. Even if they do not see eye-to-eye on every doctrinal issue, they show that critical trait of humility by coming under the imperfect, existing leadership team. Their life is a model for the flock of biblical submission to leadership (Heb 13:17). If they cannot submit to leaders prior to serving in leadership, they will not be able to once in such a position. And if that’s the case, they are hazardous to the flock, potentially factious, and should not be leading. They need additional shepherding and care. Leaders at every level need to demonstrate an unforced, genuine submission to the current leadership team. It’s the way Jesus has designed the local church to work.

6. Confrontable. After seeing churches, lives, and relationships wrecked due to an unconfrontable spirit, I am increasingly convinced that this is one of the necessary barometers of biblical character necessary for leadership. Leaders at any and every stage must demonstrate teachability, especially in the form of of responding with humility to confrontation (Prov 15:31-33Heb 3:12-14). Leaders humbly desire that the flock will respond well to confrontation. Consequently, they must be the examples of this. This demonstrates further unity with leadership along with respect for the imperfect, flawed instruments which Christ has put in place.

Like our Lord patiently does with us, existing leaders need to intentionally discover and develop potential leaders at every point in their leadership capacities. We need to equip, train, nurture, and recognize them along the way, giving grace for imperfection, while entrusting them with responsibilities for the care of the Lord’s church.

Read page 1 here.

Read more from Eric here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Davis

Eric Davis

Eric is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Jackson Hole, WY. He and his team planted the church in 2008.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Simple Steps for Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

On a recent morning text to our team, Auxano’s Founder and Team Leader Will Mancini posed the following question to be asked of church leaders:

>> Where could you use break-thru clarity on your leadership team? 

Most leaders can immediately identify a barrier or roadblock that stands in their way of moving forward to better future. Many leaders also have some idea about how to break that barrier.

There’s another type of barrier that’s more subtle, yet none-the-less blocking:

It’s our Comfort Zone.

No one likes to move beyond his or her comfort zone, but that’s really where the magic happens. It’s where we can grow, learn, and develop in a way that expands our horizons beyond what we thought was possible.

Also, it’s terrifying.

This article on HBR.org encourages us how to get out of your comfort zone. Here are the highlights:

> Tip 1: Recognize When You’re Tricking Yourself

Instead of rationalizing why the behavior is something not worth performing, actively brainstorm all the reasons why it is worth performing.  How can taking the leap and starting to work on performing this tough, but key behavior advance your career, give you chances to grow and learn in exciting ways, or whatever other goals you happen to care about?

> Tip 2: Construct a Plan That’s Unique to Your Situation

Taking a leap without a plan is bold, but unwise.  And without a strategy for how you are going to actually make this change, you’ll likely end up just where you started. So what kind of strategy should you use?

> Tip 3: Find a Mentor or Coach

Even with a solid plan and a revitalized sense of purpose, a good source of help, courage, inspiration, and feedback can seal the deal. It can be a professional coach, but doesn’t have to. A thoughtful and encouraging colleague or friend can also do the trick.

These 3 simple steps beg another question: What are you waiting for?

That question was on my mind as I began my day’s reading, researching, curating, and editing – and over a period of a few hours, the following came together:

Excellence isn’t about working extra hard to do what you’re told. It’s about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing. It’s a personal, urgent, this-is-my-calling way to do your job. Please stop waiting for a map. We reward those who draw maps, not those who follow them.   – Seth Godin

Mapmakers are those who can effectively circumnavigate constraints in order to make things happen. We all deal with constraints, especially if we are working inside an organization. There will always be organizational charts, reporting structures, budgets, and defined career paths of some sort. The question isn’t whether constraints exist, but whether persist in finding our way around and through them.

Where in your life and work are you waiting for permission? Don’t anticipate that someone is going to hand you a map. You’ll probably have to make your own. The good news is that once you get moving, the terrain becomes more visible and navigable. It’s only when you’re standing still, unaware of what’s over the next hill, that the path of progress is opaque and frightening.

Say yes, then figure it out along the way.   Todd Henry, Die Empty

A quote often wrongly attributed to The Cheshire Cat:

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.   – George Harrison, from his song “Any Road”

The actual conversation between Alice and The Cheshire Cate:

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

And, from everyone’s favorite graduation gift book,

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…

   – Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

A closing challenge from Todd Henry:

When you look back on your life, the moments you will be most proud of will likely be the ones where you stepped out of your comfort zone in the pursuit of something you believed in. Don’t allow the lull of comfort to keep you trapped in a place of complacency and subpar engagement.

You must own your own growth and take responsibility for your own progress.

 

inspired by, and adapted from, Todd Henry’s Die Empty, with a little help from Andy Molinsky, Seth Godin, George Harrison, Alice in Wonderland, and Dr. Seuss


Would you like to know more about stepping outside of your comfort zone? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Answering the “What Ifs” of Mentoring Young Leaders

There will be a whole new set of leaders in your organization in the next few years.  The leaders of today will be long forgotten.  Some will have retired, others moved on to new callings and others simply dropped out of ministry.  Regardless of the reason, the reality is the leadership picture of your organization will change. If we care about the long-term effectiveness and impact of our mission then leadership development must be a priority today.  That means we need to be looking among the next generation to see who can take up the mantel of leadership and give them the coaching and experience they need to lead well.

So what do tomorrow’s leaders look like today? This is an important question because while we may have a few good years left, our job is to identify and develop the leaders of tomorrow.  So back to our question- what do tomorrow leaders look like today?

They’re idealistic – Many young leaders haven’t had their first big humbling failure yet.  So they’re idealistic, have all the answers and quick with an opinion.  They believe they have a better way.  The only problem is they haven’t worn the shoes of leadership long enough to really know.  Once they get a few good failures under their belt they’ll be all the wiser.  But that’s not a good reason to hold them back from trying.  Why not allow them to get some “failure” experience under the watchful eye of a wiser experienced leader?  I love young idealistic leaders, they stretch me, and they challenge my thinking.  They remind me to trust God rather than logic. They remind me not to say, “We’ve never done it that way before.”  Yes, idealism can be dangerous, but it can also has its advantages.  They tend to think, “What if?’ more than a seasoned leader.  So what might happen if you intersect the wisdom and experience of a seasoned leader with the enthusiasm and idealism of a young leader?

They’re raw and unpolished –  Have you ever gone gem mining?  When my kids were young they loved going to the mountains of Tennessee to dig through the dirt looking for these hidden treasures.  They would spend hours digging, sifting, searching until they would discover the rare gem among the rubble.  It didn’t look impressive at first but once they spent some time cleaning and polishing they held a shiny prize in their hand that they would proudly display in their room.  Young leaders can be raw and unpolished.  It’s easy to judge them for their lack of discernment and discipline.  It’s tempting to put them aside deeming them unready. But those who invest development time and energy when these unpolished leaders are young will discover a strong leader they can trust and empower in a few short years.

They’re unproven –  Young leaders don’t have much of a track record.  They’re experience is minimal and not well rounded.  They may have a success or two but can they repeat it?  However they do have energy, ideas, gifts and strengths that make them a high powered package of potential.  What if we saw it sooner rather than later?  What if we developed it today rather than tomorrow?  What if we went to work shaping them immediately rather than eventually? What if we got ahold of them before they were ready?  What if we gave them opportunities that were never given to us at that age?  What if we exposed them to great places, great organizations and great people while their minds are still moldable and impressionable?  What if we shared some of our leadership responsibility with them, passed along some of our credibility and shared some platform? When you invest in a young leader this way you not only help them build their character and competency but you’re also helping them establish their leadership credibility.

I’m always amazed when I think about how young some of the great biblical leaders were.  Joseph stepped into leadership as overseer of the Captain of the Guard in Egypt at age seventeen (Gen 37:2). Josiah was only eight when he became king!  Okay that may be a little to young, but he reigned for thirty-one years and “walked in the ways of his father David and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left” (2 Chron. 24:1-2).  We don’t know how old he was but Timothy was a young man when Paul began to entrust him with leadership.

So what are you looking for in young leaders? If you’re looking for maturity, perfection, experience, consistency, reliability you may not find it.  But if you look for their strengths, gifts and passion you can develop the other qualities that will one day make them great leaders.

Read more from Mac here.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mac Lake

Mac Lake

I am the Chief Launch Officer of The Launch Network, a new church planting network based out of West Ridge Church in the greater Atlanta, Georgia area. My role is to get The Launch Network up and running, networking with churches and planters to establish healthy church starts across the U.S. and the world. Our goal is to plant 1000 churches in the next 10 years. My passion is growing leaders for the local church. Every time I hear Bill Hybels say “The local church is the hope of the world” my heart comes out of my chest and it increases my sense of urgency for developing leaders who produce leaders.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Boundaries for Leaders

Ultimately, leadership is about turning a vision into reality; it’s about producing real results in the real world. And that is only done through people doing what it takes to make it happen. So, as a leader, how do you get that to happen? What are the things that you have to do to ensure they will do what will make it work? What do you have to do with a team, a direct report, or an entire organization?

Why is it that some leaders are able to get those results when they implement those principles? When they cast vision, engage talent, work towards execution, create and implement strategy… great results happen. Yet, other leaders do not get those same results, even with good plans? Why?

I believe that among all of the things that a leader does, one of the most important is to set “boundaries.” Basically, a “boundary” is a property line. It defines what will exist on a property and what will not. The property line around your home is like that. It defines where your property begins and ends, and you are in charge of exactly what will happen on that property—and, to our point here, within your business or organization.

Leaders must establish some boundaries in some very key areas if they want to get results.

And, thanks to brain research, we now can scientifically get a peek into why the leaders who do establish these kinds of boundaries get the results that they get.

Clinical psychologist Henry Cloud, author of the recent book Boundaries for Leaders, has identified the following 5 key boundaries.

  • The Boundary of Focus – “What are we doing?”
  • The Boundary of Emotional Climate – “What does it feel like to work here?”
  • The Boundary Against Disconnection – “Where’s my buddy?”
  • The Boundary Against Negative Thinking – “Yes, we can!”
  • The Control Boundary – “What can I do that matters?”

When leaders realize that they are ridiculously in charge of what happens on their “property,” the lines that exist under their leadership, they ask themselves what they are either creating or allowing. And as we have seen, much of it can be improved if they take charge and establish some good boundaries that help people’s brains work well. They can create good brain cultures.

When that happens with good people, results will follow.

 

>>Download Dr. Cloud’s understanding of these 5 key boundaries here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Henry Cloud

Dr. Henry Cloud is a clinical psychologist with an extensive background in both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs, and he has a well-established private practice in California. He is also an international speaker and the author of the The One-Life Solution , as well as coauthor of the bestselling Boundaries, The Mom Factor, Raising Great Kids, and How People Grow.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Four Questions Every Young Leader Should Answer

The leader in trouble is not the one who doesn’t have all the answers; it is the one who doesn’t know the right questions.

As a young leader I craved answers. I had just graduated from Asbury Theological Seminary, was recently married, and had little experience as a leader.  There was so much I didn’t know. We all crave answers.  We need to make things happen. You find yourself moving fast and when you don’t know what to do it slows you down. You want someone wiser and more experienced to help you clear the fog and keep moving forward. To a degree, that is normal and good.  But it lacks long-term development and depth.  A good answer is valuable and helps you keep moving forward, but it doesn’t necessarily help you think and grow.

A coach that asks the right questions of you is often more helpful in the long run than the one who provides the answers you seek.  As an executive pastor and leadership coach, there are times when I need to provide answers, but candidly I think I’m of greater value when I ask my team the right questions.

What makes a question good? Is it the question itself? Not necessarily, the art is asking the right question at the right time. That said there are a few essential questions that all leaders, and especially young leaders should ask themselves. Here are four of those questions for you.

  • What do you want?

The most frustrated people in the world are those who don’t know what they want. They are the most difficult to lead and often do not possess an inner peace or genuine happiness. Leaders who don’t know what they want are dangerous. Instead of serving the people they, (unknowingly and without malice), use them in an attempt to discover what they want from life. That pursuit is often preceded or paralleled by attempting to discover who they are.  Candidly, they need people rather than lead people.  You don’t have to know the full depths of that answer when you are in your twenties, nor are you locked into one answer for your entire life. But the sooner you have a solid grasp of knowing what you want, the better you will lead and live.

  • Who do you listen to?

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.  (Matthew 16:13-17)

You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to understand this passage of Scripture. Who you listen to matters. Who are the people that speak into your life? Do you give them permission to tell you the truth? Are you receptive and responsive?

  • Can you discern the difference between a wrong turn and a wrong direction?

All leaders make mistakes. If you don’t make mistakes, you are playing it too safe and therefore not leading. The important thing is to not make the same mistake twice. Making a mistake is a wrong turn, making the same mistakes repeatedly is heading in the wrong direction. Mistakes are temporary. The wrong direction can result in an epic failure. The difficulty is that in the daily grind it’s hard to tell which is which.

The best way to avoid heading in the wrong direction is to possess a clear picture of the vision and keep your heart and mind focused there. Distractions, pressures, problems and difficult people can take you temporarily off course, but if you keep your eyes on the big picture you won’t lose your sense of the right direction.

  • What trades are you willing to make?

Life is a series of trades. Because time, energy and resources are finite, you must make choices. Your worldview and belief system shapes your trades as well.  Over the course of time those choices or trades determine your leadership effectiveness, quality of life, and ultimately, your legacy.

A classic set of trades that pastors make is what it takes to grow a small church to a large one. You can’t have it all. There is something special about the warmth and closeness of community in a small church. There is something powerful about the leadership and programming of a large church. As a leader you trade either way.

In order to make good trades, you have to know what you want. You need to listen to God and wise counsel. You need to be willing to make mistakes but keep heading in the right direction – and then just keep praying through the trades trusting that God is guiding your steps as a leader.

Are you asking the right questions?

Read more from Dan here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Dave Shrein — 12/31/13 10:18 pm

This is instantly one of the most helpful articles I've read all year. I have heard over and over that a good leader asks the right questions but I've never heard anyone explain what those questions are. I just sit around trying to think of questions that sound intelligent cause that's what it seems like other leaders are doing :-) This is very helpful and I am so grateful to have found it tonight. Thank you!

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Critical Reasons for Developing the “Middle” of Your Teams

Look at leadership development and you see the focus of most conferences and materials is on leaders at the top, or leaders on the front line. This is great – I love to work with senior-level teams and leaders, and have spent decades training volunteer group and team leaders for churches and businesses.

But many groups – especially Non-profits – really need to develop the middle, and the opportunities are endless!

So what about development for the MIDDLE? People have skills and experience beyond entry-level leadership and yet do not desire, are not ready for, or not gifted for – top-level posts. Where are the development strategies for these emerging leaders?

My “Leaders at Every Level” process is designed to develop and support leaders at every level of your church, non-profit or small business.

Here is why it is so important to DEVELOP THE MIDDLE layer of your organization:

1)     This is the pool from which you will draw many of your inner circle leaders in the next 4-5 years.

2)      An investment here has a huge trickle-down effect, as these leaders become better at passing along the DNA of your organization.

3)      You can see whether these leaders can reproduce the investment you have made in them. Can they, and will they, shape the people below them the way you are investing in them?

4)     It is a testing ground for greater responsibility. You can takes risks here and let leaders fail without causing too much pain in them or the organization. Yet they have time to learn and recover from failure before advancement to higher levels.

5)     Turnover drops dramatically and is directly proportional to the investment you make in people. After a few years people wonder if they are stuck, so they either level off (and just hang on to a job) or move on to better opportunities for growth. If you want turnover, ignore the middle. Here is some great info from The Wharton School that validates this point in business…but I think it is even MORE essential for churches and Non-profits.

6)     When top leaders move on or die or retire, there is no “crisis” because you have a built-in succession plan!

 

So what is your strategy? Share your ideas for development in the middle and I will forward them along. This is a great challenge!

Read more from Bill here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Donahue

Bill’s vision is: “Resourcing life-changing leaders for world-changing influence.” Leaders and their teams need a clear personal vision and a transformational team strategy. This requires work in 3 key areas: Maximize Leadership Capacity, Sharpen Mission Clarity & Build Transformational Community. Bill has leadership experience in both the for-profit and non-profit arena. After working for P&G in New York and PNC Corp. in Philadelphia, Bill was Director of Leader Development & Group Life for the Willow Creek Church & Association where he created leadership strategies and events for over 10,000 leaders on 6 continents in over 30 countries.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Steps to Identify and Engage Your High Potential Ministry Leaders

The engine for your vision is your leadership. Period. Neglect it and you neglect your vision; lead others well and everything else will take care of itself.   – Will Mancini

Your ministry team members aren’t another resource — they are unique and talented individuals entitled to respect and the pursuit of purpose in their lives. They belong to your organization in order to perform meaningful work in a community with others of like mind to achieve their own goals and to make a difference in the world or in other peoples’ lives. And they like to feel good about and enjoy the time they spend working in those organizations.

If we truly want to bring out the best in the ministry leaders working with us and for us, we must pay attention to them, their efforts, and the results of their labor.

Michelle Smith, VP of Business Development at OC Tanner, offers six tips leaders can use to identify, re-engage, and more effectively manage high-potential team members:

1. Stimulate. Emerging leaders need stimulating work, recognition, and the chance to grow. If not, they can quickly become disengaged.

2. Test.  Explicitly test candidates for ability, engagement, and aspiration to make sure they’re able to handle the tougher roles as they develop.

3. Manage. Having organizational department leaders oversee high-potential team members only limits their access to opportunities and encourages hoarding of talent. Instead, manage these high-potential team members at a higher level.

4. Challenge. High-potential team members need to be in positions where new capabilities can—or must—be acquired.

5. Recognize. High-potential team members will be more engaged if they are recognized frequently, so offer them appropriate recognition.

6. Engage. Incorporate high-potential team members into strategic planning. Share future strategies with them and emphasize their role in making them come to fruition.

The bottom line is, don’t take your team members for granted. While engagement may be hard to sustain, it’s infinitely easier when you nurture, recognize, stretch, and develop your team.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Pastor Geoff Surratt on 4 Lessons of Healthy Ministry

My heart broke recently as I watched pastor Ron Carpenter pour out his heart in his weekend message to his congregation. It was a gut wrenching experience as he shared with his church the devastating pain his family has endured over the past ten years, and the incredibly difficult future they now face. I have never met Ron, but my heart and prayers go out to him. I can’t imagine the anguish of sharing the most awful parts of your private life with 100s of friends and 1000s of strangers. This is a time when we put aside theological differences and preconceptions and pray for a man and a family wrecked by the effects of evil.

Seeing Ron expose his heart and soul to his congregation reminds me of several hard-earned lessons from a lifetime of ministry. These lessons are not about Ron Carpenter or Redemption World Outreach Center, I don’t know anything about Ron, his leadership or the structure of his church; these are the lessons of 31 years of vocational ministry. Lessons learned growing up a third generation pastor’s kid, watching 30 members of my extended family in active ministry, and interacting with hundreds of pastors and leaders across the country. I’ve organized these lessons into four “Y”s of healthy ministry.

1. Integrity: I am real

Integrity: being complete or undivided.

While all pastors stress the importance of integrity, there is a temptation in ministry to create an onstage image different from who they really are. Very few  set out to be two different people, it just happens. This is an incredibly dangerous road to go down.

I’ve seen a couple of iterations of this tendency to project an idealized leader for public consumption. In one version the leader creates a more polished image of himself. He is incredibly happy, has a well-adjusted family, and lives a super desirable lifestyle. He faces challenges and temptations, but he always overcomes in the end. The implied message is that if his followers will emulate his faith they too can live a charmed life. Social media has made this temptation into an art. The leader tweets about his “smokin’ hot wife”, his incredible kids and the constant spiritual breakthroughs he achieves. He creates a life everyone wishes they had. In reality its a life he wishes he had as well.

In the second version the leader creates a more raw version of himself. He talks about a crisis of faith he never really had. He embellishes college stories to better match those of his congregation. He exaggerates family challenges to sound more like the real life stuff his followers deal with every day. This version of the leader requires that he hide a relatively innocent youth as well as the luxuries ministry success has afforded him. He must feign humility even when he doesn’t feel humble. The message to the church is, “You can follow me because I’m just like you.”

Authentic ministry requires one version of you. You may be a little more refined in public, hopefully you don’t scratch and spit as much, but people who know you should be able to say you’re the same guy on stage as you are at the ballgame. The real you will eventually come out, so you might as well be you from the beginning.

2. Transparency: I am human

Transparency: Able to be seen through

Integrity says what you see is what you get while transparency says what you see is a normal human being. Transparent, human leaders get tired, discouraged and frustrated. They’re not always sure where to go or what to do next. They don’t have a fairy tale marriages and their kids sometimes (all the time) exasperate them. They worry about their finances, and their health and how they’re going to care for their parents when the time comes. They have been called into a position of public ministry, but they’re just an ordinary humans.

The image of a leader with the perfect hair, the perfect spouse and the perfect children isn’t realistic, sustainable or biblical. Elijah got tired, Peter got hungry, Paul got ticked off at his best friend. There isn’t a single example in the Bible of a leader who didn’t struggle with his humanity. Being transparent about our humanity means admitting we sometimes struggle in our marriage, feel clueless as parents and wrestle balancing our faith with our doubt. Transparency says the human condition is universal; I’m no exception.

3. Vulnerability: I am broken

Vulnerable: Capable of being wounded our hurt

We are creating a version of Christianity that says the true believer, if they follow the right plan or practice the right disciplines, will inch closer and closer to spiritual perfection. The goal is to be a mature believer who almost never sins, and if he does it just little things like forgetting to leave a tip or sighing out loud in line at Wal-Mart. Leading the parade is the pastor who proclaims he has overcome the sin he used to struggle with, and is now nearing heavenly nirvana. He might have been saved by grace, but he has worked his way to true holiness. Won’t you follow in his footsteps?

This in spite of all the biblical evidence to the contrary. David seduces Bathsheba and murders Uriah long after writing the 23rd Psalm. Peter succumbs to hypocrisy, refusing to eat with Gentiles, years after leading Cornelius to faith. Paul, the greatest evangelist the world has seen,  writes in Romans 7

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 

The healthy leader says with integrity that there is only one version of me, with transparency that I am only human and with vulnerability that I have broken parts in my life. I am growing spiritually, but like  you, I struggle with sin every day.

4. Accountability: I am under authority

Accountable: Responsible, answerable

I have not seen a leader fail or crumble who has a small circle of friends to whom he is accountable. Friends who know his family, his background, his sins and his failures. Friends who call him out on his stuff and have permission to remove him from his position of leadership if necessary. This only works if the leader is honest with his circle. If he isn’s real, transparent and vulnerable with this group they are of little value. If, however, this is a group of peers he trusts with his life they will likely catch him before his world comes crashing down.

A danger here is the illusion of accountability. A pastor will point to a board of overseers, deacons or elders; or he might say denominational oversight provides this safeguard. Normally, however, the accountability at this level is surface. The pastor rarely shares his intimate challenges and sins with an appointed board. They have the power to discipline or remove, but they don’t live in the daily details. Board accountability is like floodgates on a dam; it is the last line of defense. True accountability happens in a smaller circle at a deeper level.

Living it out

A final note on living out the Four “Y”s; everything is not appropriate to share at every level. It is as unhealthy to dump your garbage on your neighbor’s lawn as it is to hide it in your basement. While a healthy leader has integrity, transparency, vulnerability and accountability at every level, he also understands what should be revealed at every level of leadership. Below is a pyramid that illustrates this concept:

pyramid

The leader’s small circle of friends have open access to his life. Nothing is off limits. They also help him determine what is appropriate to share at the other levels. The overseers have access to the general outline, but not necessarily the details. The staff has a clear picture of the leader’s life without information that could hurt or embarrass others. (i.e. the staff leadership team would know the pastor is struggling at home, but doesn’t need to know the specific challenge). The congregation knows enough to understand the overall picture of the pastor’s life. If a pastor has been real with the congregation and his son is arrested for drugs the attenders won’t be shocked. They know the pastor has been struggling with a family issue, they just didn’t know which family member or the specific issue.

This post is not aimed at any pastor nor is it not a blueprint for growing a church. You might be able to lead a church by projecting an image that isn’t true to you or the life you live. You might convince people to follow an illusion. I’m sure there are successful (and unsuccessful) pastors who are able to make this work. But the illusion will crumble and the facade will fail and you will be left naked and ashamed.

This is a guide for healthy ministry that reminds people that your role, your only role, is to point followers to Jesus.

Read more from Geoff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

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