21 Leadership Foundations


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Foundations of Leadership

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  • Darrell W. Johnson writes in Leadership Handbook of Management and Administration (Baker): Commitment. Are would-be leaders clearly committed to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord? Do they have a passion to know Christ in all his fullness? While passion is expressed differently by different personality types, would-be leaders must be on fire to know and obey the Crucified and Risen One. Conviction. Do would-be leaders have biblically informed convictions about who God is, who humans are, the meaning of history, the nature of the church, and the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Are they learning what it means to be transformed by the renewal of the mind (Rom. 12:2) to think “Christianly” about every dimension of their lives—money, time, sex, family, recreation? Paul warns against being too quick to call recent converts to leadership; commitment and conviction take time to deepen. Competency. Do would-be leaders know how to make their way through the Scriptures? As 2 Timothy 2:15 advises, can they help others find their way around the sacred pages? Have these potential leaders been entrusted with appropriate gifts of the Holy Spirit? Do they have a working understanding of the gifts, and can they help others discern and deploy those entrusted to them? Do they have the necessary relational skills for the position? Do their personal relationships manifest the integrity and love of Jesus, especially in marriage and with their children? Character. Are would-be leaders taking on the character of Jesus? Are we moving toward greater and greater Christ-likeness? Leadership requirements are about character. Is a would-be leader known for self-control, hospitality, gentleness (control of anger), quest for holiness, temperance? Is there evidence of dying to the love of money, to manipulation, to always having one’s own way? Is this person faithful to his spouse? What about the requirements to be “above reproach”? The point is that we should seek to be all the Master calls us to be. It means being above condemnation as we confess and repent of our sins and failures and seek, by grace, to grow.
  • At the time of the interview, Larry Osborne was pastor at North Coast Community Church in Vista, California. He is a frequent contributor to Leadership journal and has written a book about creating healthy elder boards titled The Unity Factor (Owl’s Nest, 2001).
  • God forges a leadership team made up of pastors, paid and unpaid staff members, and an elder board. Each has its distinct function, and each needs the other to be effective in ministry.
  • Training. When I began pastoring a small church, I assumed that everybody was ready to charge the hill. Instead I found real people with real hurts. Instead of focusing on meeting their needs, I asked them to meet the needs of the world. That caused things to go sideways for three years. It was a difficult time for me until it dawned on me that we were never going to be healthier than our leadership team. So I switched my focus. For one thing, I realized that no one trains leaders for the task of leading the church. We take our church leaders and give them more theology when what they really need to know is how to lead the church. Reap insights. I now expose board members to things I learned in seminary and in conferences and journals for pastors. I teach them everything from church growth principles to group dynamics. I train them in the material before we need it. Philosophy of ministry. As pastors, we often hold information like this close to the vest until we’re in the midst of a decision and then pop it out as proof that everybody should do what we want to do. That makes you feel like a lobbyist. I now train our elder board in the material before we need it. Think like pastors. Most people tend to lead the church like a business. The church is not a trucking company. It’s completely different.
  • A healthy church board needs to learn and practice different governance methods as a church becomes larger, primarily because the scope of responsibility is so different between a smaller and larger church.
  • The right size. I suggest somewhere between 5 and 12 members. If you have too many people, there is no way to keep the lines of communication flowing. Frankly, it’s the slightly too-large board that often gets the time-bomb member because the board is trying to fill that last slot or two. Spend time together. Too many boards gather, quickly pray, do business, go home. I look for ways to have some play, socialization, and time together. Training and retreats. The more time we spend together, the more we like and understand one another. Too many boards gather, quickly pray, do business, go home. I look for ways to have some play, socialization, time together. Pray. All the leadership understanding and insight in the world can’t make up for making sure the Lord’s hand is building you in what to do.
  • Long-time business executive and author Fred Smith Sr. suggests these criteria: 1. Past experience. The best predictor of the future is the past. When I was in business, I took note of any worker who told me he was superintendent of a Sunday school or a deacon in his church. If he showed leadership outside of the job, I wanted to find out if he had leadership potential on the job. 2. Catching the vision. The founder of Jefferson Standard built a successful insurance company from scratch. He assembled some of the greatest insurance people by simply asking, “Why don’t you come and help me build something great?” A leader feels the thrill of challenge. 3. Look for a better way. If someone says, “There’s got to be a better way to do this,” I ask, “Have you thought about what that better way might be?” If he says no, he is being critical, not constructive. If he says yes, he has a constructive spirit of discontent. That’s the kind of creative itch inherent in a leader. 4. Practical ideas. Highly original people are often not good leaders because they are unable to judge their output. They need somebody to say, “This will work” or “This won’t.” Leaders seem to be able to identify which ideas are practical and which aren’t. 5.Take responsibility. After a long day, I walked out of the plant and passed the porter, who said, “Mr. Smith, I sure wish I had your pay, but I don’t want your worry.” He wanted to be able to drop his responsibility when he walked out the door. That’s understandable, but it’s not a trait in potential leaders.
  • 6. Finishing the job. The person who grabs hold of a problem and won’t let go till it’s solved has leadership potential. This quality is critical in leaders, for there will be times when nothing but one’s iron will says, “Keep going.” 7. Being mentally tough. No one can lead without being criticized or without facing discouragement. I don’t want a mean leader; I want a tough-minded leader who sees things as they are and is willing to pay the price. 8. Earned peer respect. A successful real estate broker I know looks for people whose associates want them to succeed. “It’s tough enough to succeed when everybody wants you to succeed,” he says. “People who don’t want you to succeed are like weights in your running shoes.” 9. Have family respect. My daughter once said, “One thing I appreciate is that after you speak and I walk up, you are always attentive to me. You seem proud of me.” That meant a lot. A family’s feelings toward someone reveal much about a leader’s potential to lead. 10. People listen. Potential leaders have a “holding court” quality about them. When they speak, people listen. Other people may talk a great deal, but nobody listens to them. They’re making a speech; they’re not giving leadership.
  • Rich Nathan writes: People’s projections. A woman in our congregation gave me a 60-page epistle detailing how I was like her ex-husband. I did not want her to have a career, I did not believe she was smart, and I was critical of her ministry ambitions. When Rita asked, “What do you think of what I wrote?” I said gently, “I believe you have never forgiven your ex-husband.” She burst into tears. We talked about some things she had suffered at the hands of men. In sum, often leaders are asked to pay bills that aren’t theirs. A lightning rod. One way to prevent this is to teach the difference between godly ambition and selfish ambition. Selfish ambition focuses on a role, whereas godly ambition focuses on a need. For example, I asked a man, “If you are denied this position as a youth pastor, can you find another way to minister to teens? If your heart is set on meeting needs and not on a particular role, then you are secure.” Displeasing people. My willingness to displease people has actually gained me respect. I’ve had staff members tell me they were upset because they got overly positive evaluations from other leaders. People of good character do not want to be flattered or lied to. They want to hear the truth, as long as they feel loved and nurtured in the process. Unrealistic expectations. Sometimes I think, “You are not meeting with enough people! You need to be praying more! Things would go better if you spent more time in the Word!” I have to go back to Scripture for the right perspective. Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it didn’t rain. But after his victory over the prophets of Baal, Elijah became so discouraged that he asked to die. I can identify with both moods. Fatigue. A few years ago, I returned from two weeks of teaching, went to work, and wondered, “Why am I feeling exhausted and depressed?” Leaders must pay the price of fatigue, yet also learn how to prevent it.
  • We are quite willing to press ahead when we do not have doubts. Like Jonah, it is far easier to hear God say audibly, “Go to Nineveh!” More often, though, there are positives and negatives in each and every decision. True leadership discerns carefully when it is time to move, time to wait, and, in the waiting, time to work and time to rest.
  • We are quite willing to press ahead when we do not have doubts. Like Jonah, it is far easier to hear God say audibly, “Go to Nineveh!” More often, though, there are positives and negatives in each and every decision. True leadership discerns carefully when it is time to move, time to wait, and, in the waiting, time to work and time to rest.
  • No doubt, Christians must resist a certain kind of ambition. But we must also acknowledge other ambitions as noble, worthy, and honorable. Our Scripture texts offer both warning and encouragement for sorting out the difference. When our ambition is to be effective in the service of God—to realize God’s highest potential for our lives—we can keep both of these verses in tension.
  • There can be a significant tension between an honorable ambition and a dishonorable ambition. We may live with an element of each in our desire to lead and serve. Desiring to be great, to want to achieve highly, is not a sin, but to do great things for self is. Christians are called to develop God-given talents, to make the most of their lives, to develop God-given capacities and talents to the fullest. But that desire must focus on glorifying God and building the church, and rendering service to others with great impact in Jesus’ name.
  • Max DePree lists these traits in his fine book Leadership Jazz (Doubleday). Notice that the primary focus on these attributes is that they put other people before self. Integrity. Where integrity is at stake, the leader works publicly. Behavior is the only score that’s kept. Lose integrity, and a leader will find himself in a directionless organization going nowhere. Vulnerability. Vulnerable leaders trust in the abilities of other people and allow those who follow them to do their best. An invulnerable leader can be only as good as his own performance—how terrifying! Discernment. This attribute lies somewhere between wisdom and judgment. Leaders are required to see many things (pain, beauty, anxiety, loneliness, and heartbreak. Two elements to keep your eye on: the detection of nuance and the perception of changing realities. What kind of antennae do you have?
  • Empathy. Without understanding the cares, yearnings, and struggles of the human spirit, how could anyone presume to lead a group of people? Person skills always precede professional skills. Courage. When conflict must be resolved, when justice must be defined and carried out, when promises need to be kept, when the organization needs to hear who counts—these are the times when leaders act with ruthless honesty and live up to their covenant with the people they lead. Humor. A compassionate sense of humor requires a broad perspective on the human condition and an accounting for many points of view. You’ll find a sense of humor essential to living with ambiguity.
  • Intellectual energy. When you seek out the competence of your followers, you begin to enable them to fulfill their potential. When followers are allowed to do their best, they make leadership infinitely easier, and you’re free to learn even more. Respect for timing. The future requires humility in the face of all we cannot control. The present requires attention to all the people to whom we are accountable. The past gives us the opportunity to build on the work of our elders. Breadth. A vision of what an organization can become has room for all contributions from all quarters. To borrow from Walt Whitman, leaders are people large enough to contain multitudes. Comfort with ambiguity. Healthy organizations exhibit a degree of chaos. A leader will make some sense of it. The more comfortable you can make yourself with ambiguity, the better a leader you will be. Organizations always delegate the job of dealing constructively with ambiguity to their leaders.
  • Write each style on a scrap of paper, fold them, and put them in a container (include enough for each board member). Have each person draw out his or her style. Without saying what they are to others, they should then act out that style throughout the discussions that follow.
  • 21 Leadership Foundations

    1. 3. Leadership: A High Calling 1Timothy 3:1–13 4 biblical challenges for leaders Bible Study
    2. 4. 4 Traits of Biblical Leadership <ul><li>Commitment. Clearly committed to Jesus Christ </li></ul><ul><li>Conviction. Thinks “Christianly” about every dimension—money, time, sex, family, recreation </li></ul><ul><li>Competency. Knows Scripture and one’s gifts and has relational skills </li></ul><ul><li>Character. Known for self-control, hospitality, holiness, temperance </li></ul>Bible Study
    3. 5. Discuss <ul><li>Think of three people in positions of world leadership. How do they differ from what we expect of church leaders? How are they similar? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we identify potential church leaders who meet scriptural qualifications? </li></ul><ul><li>What training would help you become a more effective church leader? </li></ul>Bible Study
    4. 6. Creating Healthy Church Boards Numbers 13–14 1 Timothy 3 A look at the key church leadership team Interview
    5. 7. Interview “ I realized that our church would never be healthier than our leadership team.” Larry Osborne
    6. 8. How to Grow as a Board <ul><li>Get training in how to lead a church on everything from church growth to group dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Talk about philosophy of ministry </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to think like pastors, focusing on what it means to lead a volunteer organization </li></ul>Interview
    7. 9. Interview “ It’s been moved that we adjourn. Is there a second? No? The motion dies for lack of a second. Let’s continue with my report.”
    8. 10. The Purpose of a Board <ul><li>Small church: Helps the pastor get the job done </li></ul><ul><li>Larger church: Helps the pastor make and communicate good decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Very large church: Provides accountability for staff. Also acts as crisis team in waiting </li></ul>Interview Key: A healthy elder board changes its role as a church grows
    9. 11. 4 Steps to a Healthy Board <ul><li>Keep it the right size. 5 to 12 people </li></ul><ul><li>Spend time together. The more time we spend together, the better we understand one another </li></ul><ul><li>Offer training and retreats. Shared experiences give common background </li></ul><ul><li>Pray together. The Lord’s guidance is essential </li></ul>Interview
    10. 12. Discuss <ul><li>What factors contributed to the Israelites’ failure to enter the Promised Land (Num. 13–14)? How can we guard against faulty judgment as a group? </li></ul><ul><li>What things have helped our board to be healthy? </li></ul><ul><li>What could we add or change to build a better board? </li></ul>Interview
    11. 13. Am I Ready to Lead? 1 Corinthians 9:24–27 10 questions to determine your readiness Assessment
    12. 14. 10 Questions to Determine Readiness to Lead <ul><li>How have I led in the past? </li></ul><ul><li>Can I catch the vision? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I look for a better way? </li></ul><ul><li>Are my ideas practical? </li></ul><ul><li>Do I take responsibility? </li></ul>Assessment I’ve got much to learn I do well with this
    13. 15. Assessment
    14. 16. 10 Questions to Determine Readiness to Lead <ul><li>Will I finish the job? </li></ul><ul><li>Am I mentally tough? </li></ul><ul><li>Have I earned peer respect? </li></ul><ul><li>Does my family respect me? </li></ul><ul><li>When I speak, do people listen? </li></ul>Assessment I’ve got much to learn I do well with this
    15. 17. Discuss <ul><li>How did the apostles demonstrate readiness to lead? In what areas did they need to grow? </li></ul><ul><li>In which of these 10 areas do you feel most ready as a leader? </li></ul><ul><li>In which of these 10 areas would you like to become stronger as a leader? </li></ul>Assessment
    16. 18. 5 Hidden Costs of Leadership John 12:23–26 Are you willing to pay them? Assessment
    17. 19. The Cost of Leadership <ul><li>The price of people’s projections </li></ul><ul><li>The price of being a lightning rod </li></ul><ul><li>The price of displeasing people </li></ul><ul><li>The price of unrealistic expectations </li></ul><ul><li>The price of fatigue </li></ul>Assessment I’ve experienced this I haven’t had to deal with this
    18. 20. Discuss <ul><li>What leadership struggles did Elijah, Nehemiah, and Jesus face? See 1 Kings 18–19; Nehemiah 2:11–20; 6:5–16; Mark 6:4–5. What was the price each leader had to pay? </li></ul><ul><li>What has church leadership cost you? </li></ul><ul><li>Think of a leader who resigned because the price was too high. What led up to that? </li></ul>Assessment
    19. 21. The Slump of Second-Guessing Proverbs 6:1–5 Luke 11:29–32 Philippians 3:12–16 Making a decision doesn’t always rest the case Case Study
    20. 22. The Case <ul><li>A church needed leaders, so the pastor said to the board, “I need 10 men who will meet with me for a year to study and pray. Those men will then disciple other men. Our goal will be to disciple 50 men in the next 5 years.” </li></ul>Case Study
    21. 23. The Case <ul><li>The board approved the plan for Project Mustard Seed. But some members had second thoughts, saying “We should have visited and supported all the groups in church before starting something new.” Others began to question whether we had made the right choice. </li></ul>Case Study
    22. 24. What Would You Do? <ul><li>What can a board do when people second-guess a decision? </li></ul><ul><li>When should we hold firm to what’s been decided, and when should we change our decision? </li></ul><ul><li>What can we do to make sure that a decision sticks? </li></ul>Case Study
    23. 25. Case Study
    24. 26. What Happened <ul><li>While stewing over the dilemma of second-guessing, the pastor saw a book titled Waiting in a display with a flower pot and mustard seeds. He viewed it as a sign from God </li></ul><ul><li>The board agreed to put Mustard Seed on hold </li></ul>Case Study
    25. 27. What Happened <ul><li>Lesson: True leadership sees the inevitable problems of ministry yet has the spiritual resolve to wait when necessary for the right time to proceed </li></ul>Case Study
    26. 28. Discuss <ul><li>According to Proverbs 6:1–5, what should we do about an unwise decision? </li></ul><ul><li>When is it better to wait for consensus on a decision rather than proceeding with a simple majority? </li></ul><ul><li>What are some ways we can deal with people’s criticism of a board decision? </li></ul>Case Study
    27. 29. An Honorable Ambition Jeremiah 45:5 1 Timothy 3:1 Keeping the tension right between the risks and rewards of leadership Devotional
    28. 30. Risks of Leadership <ul><li>Most Christians have concerns about whether it’s right to want to be a leader: </li></ul><ul><li>Isn’t it better for the position to seek the person than the person to seek the position? </li></ul><ul><li>Hasn’t ambition caused the downfall of many church leaders? </li></ul>Devotional
    29. 31. Ambitions to Leadership <ul><li>Some ambitions are wrong; others are noble, worthy, and honorable </li></ul><ul><li>See 1 Timothy 3:1 and Jeremiah 45:5 for sorting out the difference </li></ul><ul><li>What rewards did Paul experience for leading the church? How did that discourage false ambition? </li></ul><ul><li>What advice did Jeremiah give Baruch about motivation for leadership? What made it unworthy? </li></ul>Devotional
    30. 32. Ambitions to Leadership <ul><li>Christians are called to develop their God-given talents </li></ul><ul><li>But Jesus taught that ambition that centers on the self is wrong </li></ul><ul><li>Ambition that centers on the glory of God and welfare of the church is a mighty force for good </li></ul>Devotional
    31. 33. Discuss <ul><li>What are some key differences between a godly approach to leadership and a worldly approach? </li></ul><ul><li>Why does Paul say that hardships, contempt, and rejection are rewards? </li></ul><ul><li>If leadership’s rewards are so difficult, why would anyone lead? </li></ul>Devotional
    32. 34. Putting People First Proverbs 8:12-21 10 attributes of a leader How To
    33. 35. 10 Attributes of a Leader <ul><li>Integrity. Works in full view when integrity is at stake </li></ul><ul><li>Vulnerability. T rusts others people’s abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Discernment. Perceives changing realities </li></ul>How To
    34. 36. 10 Attributes of a Leader <ul><li>Empathy. Understands the cares, yearnings and struggles of others </li></ul><ul><li>Courage. Is r uthlessly honest about living up to the covenant with others he/she leads </li></ul><ul><li>Humor. Shows compassionate humor </li></ul>How To
    35. 37. 10 Attributes of a Leader <ul><li>Intellectual energy. Seeks out the competence of one’s followers and helps them grow </li></ul><ul><li>Respect for timing. Is humble in the face of what can’t be controlled </li></ul><ul><li>Breadth. Willing to accept contributions from all quarters </li></ul><ul><li>Comfort with ambiguity. Makes some sense out of chaos and lives with the rest </li></ul>How To
    36. 38. How To “ So I say to my new associates, ‘Be your own man. Don’t be like everyone else.’ ”
    37. 39. Discuss <ul><li>What attributes does Proverbs 8:12–21 suggest that leaders need? Are most of these attributes innate or acquired? </li></ul><ul><li>How can you work on developing the attributes of a leader? </li></ul><ul><li>Describe a leader who embodies one or more of these qualities. How do you think such leaders maintain their leadership edge? </li></ul>How To
    38. 40. Your Conflict Style Matthew 20:20–28 Understanding your approach may ease tension with others Activity
    39. 41. What’s Your Style? <ul><li>You avoid a painful issue and withdraw from it </li></ul>Activity <ul><li>You try to win your case </li></ul><ul><li>You find a way for the group to solve a problem </li></ul><ul><li>You yield to a stronger position </li></ul><ul><li>You work toward a compromise </li></ul>
    40. 42. Role Play <ul><li>A young man and woman who are living together want your pastor to marry them. Should he do it? </li></ul><ul><li>A youth leader is trying to work with a gang of kids in the church parking lot, but others want them to leave. What should we do? </li></ul>Activity Choose a conflict style other than your own and play that role while discussing the following:
    41. 43. Discuss <ul><li>How was this style different from your usual style of relating to conflict? </li></ul><ul><li>When has your conflict style worked well for you? When not? How might you adjust your style? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we as leaders help each other mature through conflict? </li></ul>Activity
    42. 44. Final Thoughts <ul><li>Name some things we learned about a healthy board. </li></ul><ul><li>What could we change right now to improve our board? </li></ul><ul><li>What could we do to help equip people for leadership? </li></ul>Leadership
    43. 45. Copyright © 2002 Christianity Today International All rights reserved. For use by purchaser only. No reproduction please. Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society For more information, go to: http:// www.BuildingChurchLeaders.com /