Several years ago we were living in Oklahoma City, and my oldest son was about 2 years old. A tornado was coming through and I had him in the car with me headed home. I was listening to the radio and they described where this tornado was crossing a certain street in the city, and I knew that’s where my wife worked, so I slipped and said “s**t”. My 2-year old promptly repeated me! (never swear in front of your little kids, they WILL repeat it, usually at the most inopportune times!
We probably have no idea how much influence we have with the leaders we work with and lead. They’re watching more than our platform time or training times. They are watching how we lead in life in general, our demeanor when approached with potential problems, how we respond to criticism, etc.
Craig Groeschel is doing a series on Breaking Barriers in the church over at his blog. He was discussing your mindset and the need to change as you go. Here’s one quote “You are going to have to change your mindset. Much of what you’re doing now won’t work later.” Then he goes on to make a statement along the lines what I was saying earlier that really spoke to me: “If you are unwilling to change and grow, your organization will not likely follow.” Ouch my brother!!
This rings so true. The people we serve and lead will likely follow after the model that we set. What they see will help them become what they are. Just as my 6 year old son watches me and tries to be like me (anyone other than me WAY intimidated by that and trying to get my act together?), our churches look at us and follow us.
Here are just some ways I think churches (and ministries) mimic their leaders:
– if we want our people to reach out and grab other people, we have to do that as well. We can’t expect our people to make relationships in the community if we don’t do that ourselves. Actions speak louder than words.
– if we say we want to reach a certain demographic of people, we have to adapt our methods and become a student of our culture
– people watch our actions and expect us to take ownership of them. If you offend someone, apologize. If you mess up in some way, apologize. Don’t just say “that’s just how I’m wired.” If you want your people to grow in their lives, you have to grow in yours, and by the way, you’ve never arrived!
– if we want our people to pray and be in the Word, we have to, believe it or not, pray and be in the Word. I love the simplicity with which Jon Courson speaks: “Read your bible and pray, every single day.”
– if we expect our people to put their families above the church, we HAVE to model that! We can’t be there all hours of the day. There are some things that can and must wait! We need to take time off with our families, shut the cell phone off, don’t check e-mail, etc
– we must model balance. We can’t always be busy! Not everything is a crisis, and our crisis doesn’t necessarily constitute a crisis in someone else’s life!
– we must be relational. If I expect my leaders to pour into the lives of those in their groups, I’d better pour into them. I better model what I expect them to do. Theory is nice, talk is cheap, again, actions speak louder than words. (I need to practice what I preach here better, but I’m on a mission to pour into my leaders like never before)Senior pastors, if you want your staff to do more than manage ministries, but rather, pour into leaders, you need to pour into your staff.
– We can’t try to do it all. Have you noticed the 20/80 rule in your church, where 20% of the people do 80% of the work? The small group leader is also an usher, a nursery worker, in the praise team, and helping with youth on Wednesday nights? We have to model a culture of sharing the load and not trying to do everything. What are the 3 things that only I can do and must do? I have to do those and enable others to do the other things that need to be done. If the same old people are doing the same old things in church (and in 4 ministry areas), it’s possible that they watch their leaders do a poor job of setting boundaries and focusing on their strengths/passions. Hmm. What do I need to cut out of my schedule, and how do I need to model to find 1 or 2 passion points and pursue them?
Just some thoughts. Obviously I’m learning and a work in progress. I need to daily ask the question, “Am I willing to change, and how does my willingness/lack thereof affect my church?”