Here is how a post like this develops. I meet with leaders weekly (largely pastors) either in person or online. It fuels me to invest in younger leaders and always challenges me as I learn from them.
I’m a better leader because I intentionally invest in other leaders. There’s a hint for some of you more seasoned leaders. Want to grow as a leader? Find someone younger in whom you can invest?
But, it always seems the so-called wisdom I share gathers in seasons. When I say something to one pastor I usually end up repeating it to another shortly afterwards. It could be the word of advice is in my schema or it is another way God stretches and teaches me so He can use me. I learn best with repetition.
And, eventually, once I’ve repeated it several times, I write it down. Then it becomes ingrained in my memory bank.
(There’s another hint there. Write down what you are learning – especially if God is the teacher.)
Here are 7 of my most repeated leadership advice:
Copy principles not practices.
Principles are almost always transferable. Practices seldom are. You can’t be someone else as effectively as you can be yourself. You’ll lose if you try to compare yourself to someone else’s success. Your success will likely look different from anyone else’s. And, the comparison game is a terrible treadmill of diasappointment.
Don’t trip over your own humility.
It’s great to be humble. I’d advise it if you want to please God. But, don’t refuse to do the right thing because you’re afraid it appears to be self-serving. I’ve seen so many pastors who don’t want to be accused of getting “credit” for something, so they do nothing at all. Tell that to people like Martin Luther King, Jr. Or Mother Theresa. Do the right thing. Be humble. Then don’t brag on yourself. (And, sometimes they won’t even give you credit. Be okay then too.)
Limit your energy to a few key areas.
Delegate the rest. I’ve found I’m seldom effective past four or five major initiatives. Really three is a good number. There are some who think they are super-human. But, they are almost always wrong and it is proven over time.
Don’t be afraid to make people wait for excellence.
I see leaders burnout and be far less effective because they try to do everything at once. It’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s actually healthy. I love the phrase “Caged Momentum”. I’m not at all saying do nothing, but waiting until it’s the right time may bring more people on board and keep you from overextending yourself or the church/organization.
If you ever lack energy inside the building — get outside the building.
I see pastors get so frustrated at the lack of progress. They beat themselves up because things aren’t changing fast enough. They lose their energy dealing with the negativity of change. I say to those pastors, get back to the coffee shops. Talk to people outside the church. Fuel yourself among the darkness of a hurting world which is changing faster than we can capture on the nightly news.
It’s actually what most of us have been called to do. Make disciples. Spread light. And, when the disciples in the church start arguing over potlucks, get outside – into the community and refuel your passion with people searching for hope. And, watch your energy rise.
Invest in a few key leaders.
You can’t invest effectively in everyone who’s trying to follow you. Jesus had lots of followers. He had 12 disciples.
All of these could be their own complete blog post. I’ve spent as much as an hour talking about each one to pastors.