I love principles. Perhaps this is one reason I spend so much time reading Proverbs. Principles aren’t always “guaranteed”, but they are often proven by time and experience.
Principles can help us learn from one another. We can benefit from another person’s experience.
Here are a few principles of ministry I’ve experienced:
Just because you can do something better, doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. We shouldn’t be afraid of critical thinking or observations. Granted, some people are terrible at suggesting ideas. They always come across as being negative. Filter through personalities for nuggets of insight which can help you improve.
It’s not about you. This is huge for leaders to grapple with and will keep your ego from injuring your reputation. Leadership is about something bigger than you. People follow visions which carry them to something of value beyond what they can see today. People will have a hard time developing loyalty and buying in if the vision is no bigger than your personality.
Don’t try to handle a problem or make important decisions when you are angry or highly emotional. This is true whether the emotion is bad – or even if its a really good emotion. This means, as leaders, we must develop the discipline of waiting to respond. We must think things through before we speak them. We must guard our tongues “in the moment”. It’s better to make people wait for an answer than to give an answer you will later regret. We often make the wrong decisions and move too quickly when we act out of an emotional response to immediate circumstances.
Not everyone will agree with you or even like you, because you are the leader. Even if it is the right thing to do is no indication that everyone is going to love it. There’s no need for leadership apart from change and so all leaders are change agents. Change is hard and always produces some emotional response – good or bad. If you’re making good change (and you’ve been open to the insight of wiser people) don’t let the negative emotions curtail your leadership.
People only know what they know. People naturally resist what they can’t understand. This makes continual vision-casting a premier function of leadership. Some of a pastor’s “best” sermons will need to be ones where change is introduced or conflict is challenged.
You limit what you control. Period. The more people with real authority, empowered to make decisions, the greater opportunity you’ll have for Kingdom impact.
Your greatest fear will likely be in an area where God can most use you. We tend to prefer safe zones, but God tends to call us into the places where faith is challenged, character is built, and His glory is most magnified.
Have you seen some of these in your leadership? Feel free to add some of your own in the comments.