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Lead More Manage Less
By: James Smith
Causing growth in a church and leading God’s people is a challenge. Looking through the scripture one quickly notices that no leader of God’s people found his role easy.
It often seems that our job as ministers is more reactive than proactive. It’s important to understand that while there will always be a needed degree of reactive management, there also needs to be a healthy measure of proactive leadership.
One doesn’t need to pastor long before he/she finds themselves becoming bogged down with the daily routine of managing a congregation. Your own list of duties preformed regularly would be very comparable to many other Pastors and church leaders. As I communicate more and more with church leaders around the globe, I am surprised to find that even though regions and languages may differ, there are often, very similar “People Problems” that Pastors have to deal with.
Managers organize. They report on what is. Their role is to assign and control people. Leaders on the other hand cast vision. They offer what could be. Their role is to align and motivate people. Notice the difference between these two leadership styles. One is managing what already exists and the other is moving the church forward into new growth and greater increase.
Nearly all pastors and church leaders perform both management and leadership roles. An imbalanced church is often one whose Pastor and leadership team has succumbed to one role or the other. It is the Pastor who has lost his zeal for growth so he simply manages what is already happening. Or it is the Pastor who constantly promotes growth and new programs, but does not provide constant management for the growth that happens.
Have I lost you? Are you already saying, “Now wait a minute. I can’t do it all!” You are right. You can’t. As much as you are talented, gifted, anointed and blessed, you are not Solomon. Moses couldn’t do it all and neither can you. In fact, the church leader that attempts to do all the management themselves will be overridden with the load of caring for God’s people.
This is why our Lord brings us other people into the church. Many Pastors overlook the people resources in their congregation. Since they lack the ability to trust others to a task, many Pastors fail to allow the talents of their congregation to become invested.
Moses had his captains of fifties and thousands. You too have been given certain individuals who can come beside your ministry to assist you in maintaining the growth from the vision you cast.
Do you find yourself routinely doing the job of the church janitor? Did you fix or repair something around the church lately? Are you the office manager? Are you the one who adds ink to the printer? Are you the only one visiting and praying for the sick? Who does the computing and tallying of numbers to record progress?
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How do we preach to those who have heard it all? Here are seven ingredients:
- Round out Bible characters. For many sermon veterans, familiar Bible characters are flat, one dimensional, either good or bad. But real people have inner tensions, complications, and mixed motives. When a preacher portrays that, listeners identify readily.
- Get specific about application. An example is more powerful than an explanation. There’s a world of difference between telling someone that prayer changes things and sharing a fresh example of a situation transformed by prayer.
- Let it grip your soul. A critical quality in preaching effectively to those who’ve heard it all is sincerity. If our sermon is honest and heartfelt, a truth as common as “Jesus loves you” can thunder in the hearts and minds of our listeners.
- Address the tough question. We would like to think that hearing a lot of sermons would answer most of a person’s questions. But people who have heard it all love to hear a preacher tackle the tough ones.
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines: Act like the person you wish to become. Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
To start thinking positively, begin by acting positively. Most of us wait until we feel like taking action, but that’s going about it backwards. Instead, by putting our desires into action, we can establish a habit of thinking positively – and this results in a positive attitude.
To reap a successful harvest, a farmer doesn’t plant seeds and then just expect them to grow on their own. He must continually water, weed, fertilize and nurture the growing plants if he wants them to reach maturity. Likewise, if we want a successful life, we need to spend time everyday nurturing our attitude. Focus on the positive and successful. Don’t feed the weeds.
In this unpredictable and changing world, the one thing we can always control is the way we think. While we have little control over circumstances or the actions of others, we can control our reactions to them. And anyone can learn how to think more positively and operate with a better attitude, regardless of circumstances, temperament, or intellect. To begin thinking more positively and leading your people to do the same, follow these guidelines:
Act like the person you wish to become.
Cultivate a Consistent Positive Attitude.
A few years ago, I hired a man to work for me who was from Africa. His family had brought him to the United States and he was in need of job skills. My small painting company was a great place for him to learn a trade. Frances was a pure joy to work with. He was happy every day. He would sing beautifully as he worked and often expressed his appreciation to me for giving him a job. He was fun and often told funny jokes. He was always ready for work on time. His attitude was perfect. However, I had to fire him.
Frances did not understand the value of time. One day he would paint 30 doors, the next day he would paint 2. After speaking to the family member who was his sponsor to the US, she told me that in Africa, time is of little value. She said, “people where he came from do not place a value on time. If something did not get done today, that’s ok, it can get done tomorrow.” Unfortunately, we in the US do not and cannot look at time this way. I knew how much Frances’s time was worth not only to him, but also to me. As his employer, I had to cause Frances to improve his time to show a profit or I would lose money on each job he did for me. Frances was unable to change his way of thinking regarding time and as a result I had to let him go.
The Bible itself begins with a reference of time, “In the beginning”. Time has always been important to God. A reading of the early chapters of Genesis shows God creating the world as sequential event. Christ Himself did not come to this world until His time was fulfilled and when it was time, he returned to glory. Time is important to God, and it should be important to His ministers.
Some people view time like Frances did. It simply did not matter. “Didn’t do it today? That’s ok, do it tomorrow.” The fact of the matter is, we only have one life. We are only allowed so many days, hours, minutes and seconds in this life. At some appointed second in time we will pass from this life.[ read more...]
To avoid burnout one needs to identify ways to refuel the energy expended in their challenging role of bi-vocational ministry. Exercise, proper diet, and adequate rest cannot be over-emphasized for long-term health, stamina, and creativity.
One analogy is that of an automobile over the course of a year. It order to function without failure it needs to visit the occasional gas station, be serviced for lubrication and filter replacements, undergo routine preventive maintenance, be cleaned, have inspections and documentation kept current, and so forth. Just as these things are essential to problem-free automobile service, similar things are essential to problem-free bi-vocational ministry. A few tips include:
- Block out multiple windows of time for quality family time each week.
- Maintain spontaneity and the capacity to have fun.
- Schedule a vacation or time away from church and work at the same time.
- Leave work at the office. When you come home bring “you” with you.
- Discover ways to expend excess energy, tension, and anxiety.
What are we talking about? The loss of ministry momentum. When the church starts and a pastor promotes a new ministry in the church, everyone gets excited. That excitement is the fuel that this ministry is going to need to get started and for success to quickly begin to happen. The labor and energy that goes into promoting new ministries within the church is great. The planning aspect alone often takes many, many hours of several people working together to cause this new ministry to be possible. However, once it starts, if constant encouragement and direction is not given, it could very possibly begin to lose its momentum within just a very short amount of time.
Simply placing somebody over a ministry is not enough. You have to work with that person, train them, encourage them, and let them know exactly what it is you hope to see accomplished in this new ministry. This mentoring of the new leader is absolutely necessary if you want this new ministry to succeed. However, oftentimes our own schedules don't allow us to properly train and equip the people that we placed over various ministries within the church. When this happens, the new ministry begins to lose momentum. Do your leaders consistently lose the encouragement that they need? Do they have questions that are not being answered? Do they lack the training and direction that they need, or are they too are simply losing interest?[ read more...]
There are many different ways to lead God's people.
- Visionary leader - These leaders have a crystal-clear picture of what they want to happen. They cast visions powerfully and possess indefatigable enthusiasm to pursue the mission.
- Directional leader - The directional leader can carefully assess the values, mission, strengths, weaknesses, resources, personnel, and openness to change of an organization - then point that organization in the right direction.
- Strategic leader - A strategic leader forms a game plan everyone can understand and is able to get various departments synchronized and focused toward the goal.
- Managing leader - These leaders possess the unique ability to establish mile markers on the road to the destination, then organize and monitor people, processes, systems, and resources for mission achievement.
- Motivational leader - These leaders possess insight into who needs a fresh challenge, additional training, public recognition, and an encouraging word or a day off.
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1Th 1:6 “And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Ghost:”
A young upstart in the ministry once asked an elder more seasoned minister, "When will I know that I am leader in the Church?" With that the seasoned minister responded simply, “When you are being followed.”
Leadership in God’s church is not position. It is not having or being in an office. Being elected by a group of people neither actually causes you to become their leader. They may have elected or chosen you to do a job, but that does not mean that you are their leader. Leadership only happens in the church when you are being followed.
Jesus’ followers literally followed him through deserts, mountains, and stormy seas. No obstacle was too great for the opportunity to be near to the master. Here is where many church leaders find out if they’ve made the grade or not. One statistic tells us that very often after a building program, many pastors too often leave a church to find another pastorate. Why is that? Could it be that the parishioners didn’t like the color of the paint the pastor chose? Did they not like the way he conducted the business of the project? Was too much money spent? Too little accomplished? Wrong decisions? Bad decisions? A leader will know if he is truly a leader if he followed even after a storm.
When Jesus’ followers were in the ship that was being tossed by the waves, they cried out to their leader and he healed the situation they were in. Here is where an elected person becomes a leader of people. Knowing what to do in the storm will validate your leadership. Knowing how to act in a crisis elevates you above your fellow. Not everybody is capable of making tough decisions. Only a leader worth following knows when and how to step to the forefront and take charge of a chaotic situation.[ read more...]
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)
"You can think your way to failure and unhappiness, but you can also think your way to success and happiness. The world in which you live is not primarily determined by outward conditions and circumstances but by the thoughts that habitually occupy your mind." -Norman Vincent Peale
Marcus Aurelius said, "A man's life is what his thoughts make of it."
It has been said that the wisest man who ever lived in America was Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Sage of Concord. Emerson declared, "A man is what he thinks about all day long."
If you think you can have revival, you can.
You get what you preach. If you are preaching revival and believe with all of your heart that revival will come, it will come. It will come with God's timing, and He is bound by His word. And His word says that He hears us when we pray. If we are seeking for His will and are sincerely seeking revival for our church and community, it will come. We have to believe!
"But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come." (Mark 4:29)
If you think your church will grow, it will.
If you are praying for your church to grow, it will. If you plant the seed of faith, and water it with prayers and fasting, the church is destined to grow. It is the will of God for the church to grow. This is His church and He wants it to succeed. We have to get our thinking right, get our attitudes straightened up and get on board with what God has in store for us. Rick Warren, in his book A Purpose Driven Church, tells us to not ask the question "Why is the church not growing," but to ask, "What is causing the church to not grow." Whenever we get our thinking on the right path, the church will begin to grow and mature. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth,
"I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase." (1 Cor. 3:6)[ read more...]
One definition of insanity is to believe that you can keep doing what you’ve been doing and get different results. We want revival. We want growth in our churches and we think that it is somehow going to miraculously happen by the methods and programs we have used unsuccessfully for the past 20 years. We think that because we did have “some” growth using manmade antiquated methods, that we are definitely on the right track.
Someone once said , “It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.” I’m not so sure you have to run twice as fast to get somewhere else. All you have to do is change the direction you are heading. Many of us are “running as fast as we can and yet, we find ourselves stuck in the same place”. Some of us are trying as hard as we can try. We are working very very hard and yet at the end of the day, our efforts for the Kingdom are rewarded only minimally. Why is that?
Peter and his co-workers had labored all night. Using techniques and skills they had learned over a lifetime of working on fishing boats, they toiled fruitlessly in dangerous seas. Their response to the Lord was, “We’ve caught nothing!”
Jesus who probably never spent a single day fishing on a boat tells them, “Cast your nets on the other side.” Peter must have inwardly thought, “What does this carpenter know about fishing?” “What can he tell me that I don’t already know?” “I’ve been doing this all my life!”
You know what happened. They caught a ton of fish, simply by changing the side of the boat they were casting their nets on. Now you may also say, “Well, Jesus did a miracle for them”. He may well have, however, notice that He did require them to do something they had never done before, to get the miracle. Had Peter cast his net one more time from the same side of the boat he had been casting on, he would have again, pulled in empty nets.
Too many of us have worked all the night also and caught little or nothing. We may brag that we’ve had a 10% or even 20% increase of growth to our church in the last year, but is that truthfully the kind of revival our Lord would want to give? Considering the tens of thousands of people in your city, is 10% growth in our church really what He would want to give.
The early Apostolics turned all of Asia upside-down in just 2 years. What have we honestly accomplished in our city in the last 20 years? Too many of us have only held onto the status quo. While many churches have folded up (We don’t like to talk about these.) and others have barely grown at all.
We call ourselves Apostolic. We identify ourselves and our movement with the people of the book of acts. We speak as if we have arrived at the same conclusions and understanding as those who turned Asia upside down in two years, but this preacher believes we have sadly fooled only ourselves.
Let's be honest … 20 years ago, didn’t God give you a much greater vision than what you’ve realized. Didn’t you step into this boat thinking, “I’m going to win my city!”. “I’m going to have a great drought.” “We’re going to have a great revival!”[ read more...]