Which way are you leading?
Toward revival? Toward the Great Commission? Toward multiplication?
“Wait, Dan, you don’t understand the structure I’m under. I’m not really in charge—the chairman of the board is, or the lead deacon, or the personnel committee, or …”
True, you may have roadblocks. Still, I believe that you, Pastor, are in the best position to lead your church forward.
#1. Leave the org chart in the file cabinet.
Leadership is influence, and that may have little or nothing to do with “job descriptions” or “chains of command” or “organizational charts.” Sometimes the people with the most influence aren’t on charts at all—but their ideas still get implemented.
Someone can end up in the chain of command for any number of reasons; the best, of course, is that they really are a strong, proven, visionary leader. But sometimes they were just the only willing person the search committee could find who fit the 1 Timothy 3 qualification list in that cycle. (Right?)
I’ve heard it said that if you need a pulpit handed to you in order to preach the gospel, you aren’t cut out to be a preacher. Perhaps we could also say that if you need a position of authority in order to lead people, you aren’t the leader you think you are.
#2. Realize that leadership and governance are two different things.
To illustrate this point, I turn to former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft. When asked about the true “power” of the Presidency, he replied:
Most [Presidents] are remembered not so much for their governance as they are for their leadership. If you think about George Washington, few people can mention any of the laws that were passed under his time as President, but they know what he stood for and the kind of moral tone that he brought to America.
And when you think about Abraham Lincoln, it was kind of his devotion to the value and human dignity of individuals, the kind of things that may not have been so much governance related, although they were eventually translated into governance with the freedom of individuals who had been enslaved…. The leadership in a moral and cultural sense may be even more important than what a person does in a governmental sense.
A leader calls people to their highest and best. The process of governance is really a way of setting thresholds over which people must go in order to stay out of jail. No one ever achieves greatness merely by obeying the law. People who do much more, higher and better and above what the law requires, they become really valuable to a culture—and a President can set a tone that inspires people to do that.
Such were the greatest Presidents, and such are the greatest pastors.
Governance is about executing assigned duties, about making and following rules, about organizing and administrating systems. Leadership is about motivating people, about setting a tone, casting a vision, reinforcing values, moving a team forward, creating clarity and momentum toward shared goals.
#3. Aim for influence rather than position.
In the long run, eternity won’t be impacted because you landed a “Senior” in front of your job title or a “Director” behind it. But it will be impacted by the influence you exercised, by the places you carried people, by the dreams you inspired in them, and by the example you set.
The governance people will still govern, the org-chart people will still org-and-chart, and the chairmen will still chair. All of these characters can certainly help you lead your church forward, but none of them can stop you from having a powerful, eternal influence.
I know the community I live in is in desperate need of light. Those people can’t wait ten or fifteen years for our church to organize itself more efficiently or for the org structures to change, and I assume your community has some similar pressing needs.
This is no time for you and all of your potential influence to sit on the sidelines!
Here are four practical “off the chart” influence ideas you could try anytime:
Invite five guys to meet with you every other week and walk through a book on church leadership together. As you meet, discuss and pray about the future of your church.
Ask the other leaders in your church for one-at-a-time breakfast meetings, and talk to them about their own effectiveness in life, what their dreams are going forward, and how you might best help them achieve their goals.
Find a handful of outreach-oriented people in your church and talk to them about setting a bold outreach goal for 2017. See what they come up with as a team, and then tell them you want to champion their plans to the whole church family.
Host a revival prayer meeting in your home, and invite a few other church leaders to join you. Pray in faith together based on Ephesians 3:14-21!