I had the opportunity to spend some talking with my friend Troy McLaughlin (@ProjectPastor) on his show Project Pastor.
We cover a wide-ranging set of questions and issues.
Take a listen!
The other day I was walking the Journey with Jesus trail at Saddleback Church’s Retreat Center.
I snapped this photo of Jesus hanging on the cross. I noticed that a shadow had fallen across Jesus’ face leaving only his body clearly visible.
It got me thinking…
As leaders who pursue Jesus, we both seek and desire the crucified life—crucified leadership.
We should seek to crucify our leadership pride.
We should seek to crucify our need for leadership power.
We should seek to crucify our desire for leadership prestige.
We should desire to suffer and sacrifice for those we lead.
We should desire to be a shepherd, steward, and become a slave for Jesus and those we lead.
We should crucify our need and desire for the spotlight of recognition. We should prefer the humility of the shade.
This is crucified leadership.
You are at your pastoral best when you are not noticed. ~ Eugene Peterson
But if we are being honest, we console ourselves with one thought. “At least people would know it is me who is crucified.”
We tell ourselves that people would recognize that it is we who hang on the cross of crucified leadership.
Jesus did not hang anonymous on the cross.
The religious leaders of Jerusalem knew him. The Roman soldiers knew him. The crowd that mocked him knew him. The thieves hanging beside him knew of him. His followers knew him. A sign above his head made him known to all that would pass by.
I think when we think about crucified leadership, we tell our selves that, “When I am crucified, at least, people will recognize that it is I that hangs on that cross.”
But, what if, like the picture above, a shadow falls across our face?
What if we are not recognized by anyone? What if we crucify our leadership and hang in anonymity?
Could you go to your cross knowing that no one would know. That people would simple pass by you as if you were unknown?
That is the last test of crucified leadership. To hang without acknowledgement, without recognition, without notice from anyone except God alone.
I have an idea…
“It will never work.”
“We don’t have the budget to do it.”
“It will take too much time and we just don’t have any to waste.”
“The board won’t like it.”
“The members won’t want to do that.”
“That isn’t the way we do things at this church.”
“Why do we need this?”
These are just a sample of the typical answers pastors are likely to hear when they have an idea. Don’t scoff to easily, think about it a second. After a few perfunctory, “That’s great” or “Sounds interesting” we generally work our way to some of those same responses.
We are most like our creator when we’re creative. God wired us to be creative. Children are very creative. They are born creative. It’s normal. We get the creativity kicked out of us as time goes by. We learn to be afraid. But a theology of innovation always reminds us that God intends us to be creative. ~ Rick Warren
If change or improvement is what we seek, then changing what we do or how we do it should be encouraged not discouraged. What would it look like for the pastor to act as innovation coach within the church?We are most like our creator when we’re creative...a theology of innovation always reminds us that… Click To Tweet
Mitch Ditkoff, author and innovation expert, believes that leaders should act as Innovation Coaches. It is an interesting idea. The question of innovation and pastors may come down to whose ideas are being pursued; the pastor’s alone, or others as well.
“Most managers, unfortunately, perceive new ideas as problems — especially if the ideas are not their own. Bottom line, they don’t pay enough attention to the ideas of the people around them. They say they want to innovate. They say they want ‘their people’ to do something different. But they do precious little to support their subordinates in their efforts to do so. They foist their ideas on others and can’t figure out why things aren’t happening faster.
“That’s not how change happens. If people are only acting out somebody else’s ideas, it’s only a matter of time before they feel discounted, disempowered and… well…just plain dissed. People are more than hired hands; they are hired minds and hearts, as well.”
Coaches empower others to reach within themselves and pull out their best, their best ideas and innovations. Imagine if pastors became a coach to help their people to pull out their best ideas and support them in the endeavor of finding, creating, and developing these ideas into innovative practices that impact their churches, ministries, members, and communities. Imagine if pastors become Innovation Coaches, tapping into the heart, soul, mind, and strength of those they lead and shepherd.
“If you want to empower people, honor their ideas. Give them room to challenge the status quo. Give them room to move — and, by extension, move mountains.
Nothing is more powerful and unstoppable than empowered and excited ministry leaders and church members taking huge faithfilled innovative leaps for the Kingdom. These are the people who can and do change the world.
“You want to create an environment where new ideas are popping all the time. If you do, old problems and ineffective ways of doing things will begin dissolving. This is the hallmark of an empowered organization — a place where everyone is encouraged and empowered to think creatively. Within this kind of environment managers become coaches, not gatekeepers.”
“Creativity cannot be legislated. It cannot be sustained by mission statements and pep talks. What needs to happen is you, as a manager, need to change the way you relate to people. Each encounter you have with another in the workplace needs to quicken the likelihood that their unexpressed ideas will get a fair hearing — enabling a far greater percentage of them to eventually take root.
What is also important key for innovation is being humble enough to implement ideas that do come from you. Pastors who want to be innovative must be humble enough to be open to ideas from others and obedient enough to follow through when God makes it clear it is time to change.
So the next time one of your people comes to you with an idea, be a Innovation Coach and help them develop the idea into something truly innovative.Great innovation comes from asking great questions ~ @RickWarren Click To Tweet
Mitch suggests the following innovation coaching questions:
Recently, I changed roles from helping to lead one of Saddleback’s multisite campuses to helping to start the next 10. That change brought a change in work location. Each day I come into the Ministry offices at Saddleback’s Lake Forest campus I walk by a small humble plaque on the wall near the entrance. It’s a simple tribute to an amazing leader who left an enormous legacy at Saddleback Church….Pastor Glen Kruen.
All leaders who desire to be great leaders will learn from others who have gone ahead of them and have blazed a trail of humility and service.
Pastor Tom Holladay shared some of these 10 leadership lessons he learned from serving for 20 years alongside Saddleback’s first and only Executive Pastor Glen Kruen.
1. No job is more important than pastoring. (the action of pastoring and shepherding)
We are all pastoring God’s people.
The task can always seem urgent and the people can be put off…don’t wait!
What are ways I keep the “pastor” in my job?
If all it is tasks- you won’t last.
2. Believe that God can do great things in every person’s life.
You have never meet someone who God couldn’t do great things in their life and who Jesus didn’t die for.
Realist faith- they need to turn to Christ.
3. Adjust your style to the style of your leader.
Go with the vision of your leader. Figure out how you can support it.
No reason to work for someone who is just like you- no cognitive diversity
It takes all parts of the body to work together- balance of how we all work together.
4. Be both quick and patient.
Ambidextrous- you need to be both.
Be quick and then wait and be patient (it doesn’t work in reverse often)
Focus- trust in the Lord’s timing.
5. Doctrine is your business
Doctrine- the truth of who God is…seeps into everything we do.
We are a teaching organization…we need to be able to instruct and explain.
Increasing my knowledge and strengthening my beliefs, improves my job performance in ways I cannot see.
Don’t’ minister from a sense of insecurity.
6. Value the staff above your self. Value the church above the staff. Value Jesus above all.
Consider others as more important than yourself- humility. Pray for them.
Be willing to give up your “rights.” What rights do you give away?
Not what can I get, but what right can I give away?
How do you protect yourself from pride? – attitude in both the heart and the mind.
7. Don’t take yourself too seriously
When you are with your “family” you should be able to laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
Take God seriously…and receive the strength to not take yourself seriously.
If you are not experiencing joy in your work…it may be a relational problem. Talk it out and return to joy.
8. Appreciate your family
Balance it out.
9. Take the breaks that you need (Sabbath and Vacation)
It’s too easy to cheat on that…don’t do it.
If you want to burn out- stop taking a Sabbath.
When you stop taking a Sabbath you can end up feeling like you don’t need a Sabbath.
It’s a church value, but it’s your responsibility and choice. You need to protect it.
10. Let go in order to grow.
You cannot grow and the church cannot grow unless you let go of things.
This includes things you love doing.
Let other people be involved in it.
What are you letting go of this year?
A good leader will use positive illustrations and examples…A Servant Leader IS the positive illustration or example.
I am and so many others are the beneficiary of the leadership and stewarship of simple, humble, amazing servant leaders like Pastor Glen Kruen…he is a servant found trustworthy.
Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, or Chesty Puller, is a legend in the annals of the Marine Corps. His reputation for being a hard charging and hard fighting military leader is legendary.
In his book, Chesty: The Story of Lieutenant General Lewis B. Puller, author Colonel Jon T. Hoffman, USMCR, describes Chesty as,
He was indeed a courageous warrior, but that was not the source of his legendary status. What endeared him to his fellow Marines was his leadership…The rare quality of outstanding leadership can come in many forms. Some inspire their followers with lofty words. Others command respect due to their unrivaled competence. Puller’s ability to motivate men came from a simpler source. His marines knew that he would ask no more of them than he was willing to put forth himself, and that was everything he had. They knew that when they were putting their lives on the line, he would be right out front with them.
Chesty Puller knew that as a leader there a certain things that cannot be delegated. There are certain things that only a leader can do.
A leader can’t delegate leading from the front.
A leader can’t delegate being courageous.
A leader can’t delegate being present with those he or she leads.
A leader can’t delegate being visible to those they lead.
A leader can’t delegate being a servant to their followers.
As long as there is a Corps, Chesty Puller will continue to inspire Marines to look out for their subordinates, give their utmost, and lead from the front.”
Thomas Merton once wrote,
He is bound by his vocation to fight the enemy. He cannot avoid the battle. And it is a battle that he alone can never win. He is forced to let Christ Himself fight the enemy in him. He must do battle on the ground chosen not by himself but by the Cross. That ground is the hill of Calvary and the Cross. For, to speak plainly, the priest makes no sense at all in the world except to perpetuate in it the sacrifice of the Cross, and to die with Christ on the Cross for the love of those whom God would have him save. || No Man Is An Island
It’s a battle and leadership is crucial. We can’t avoid the fight or delegate it others. We need to be on the front lines with those we lead to fight and carry our cross together.
You can’t delegate being engaged, sensing, or awareness. No one can do that for you. Leaders are present. No one can be courageous for you. Your team can’t do it for you. You must be courageous if you are to lead. You can’t delegate being on front lines and serving those you lead.
A good leader delegates…but a great leader knows what he or she must never delegate.
Pursuing your calling within the church often comes in two forms.
You can pursue the calling that comes from others, the calling associated with the demands of ministry and the people of the church.
Or, you can pursue the calling that comes from God.
You can see this wrestling with the Apostles in Acts 6:1-7
Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.
And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.
The apostles are wrestling with the call of others, the call of the church, and the call of God.
What the church has called you to do is not necessarily what God has called you to do.
Spend some time making a list of the current demands in your role that stem from the needs of ministry and then make a list of what God called you to do, then compare them.
You might, like the apostles, realize that the calling from the church is not the same as your calling from God.
The Apostles realized this.
Their failure at focusing on God’s calling lead to a failure of the church to meet the needs of the people.
This lead to raising up and affirmation of new leaders within the church.
The people of the church were pleased.
The new leaders were pleased.
The apostles were pleased.
The result was church growth and more leaders.
Poor leaders leave no legacy behind. Good leaders leave a legacy of things behind. In this case, the “thing” was a ministry system and new leaders to implement it.
But, Servant Leaders leave a legacy of people behind. It was the leaders who were raised that would be the apostles legacy…they were the church.
It is important to us not to let the demands of ministry, the calling of the church, overwhelm the call we have from God.
Leadership legacy is less in what you get done and more about who you become. In this case the apostles became more of whom God called them to be.
It is a challenge and takes courage to pursue God’s call over the call of those around in the church…but the you, the church, and the Kingdom will benefit.
Some will ask “What do they want me to do?”
A Servant Leader will ask “What have I been called and commissioned by God to do?”
I recently read Barry Strauss, professor of history and classics at Cornell University, book The Spartacus Wars. Upon finishing the book, I asked myself, “Does Spartacus have any lessons to offer a pastor?” I believe he does.
Spartacus was in many ways an amazing leader.
Starting with only 74 men he raised an army of 60,000 (some believe as big as 120,000) and incited a rebellion and marching across much of the modern Italy. In the process he defeated 9 Roman armies sent against him and kept his forces in the field and the Romans at bay for two years before his final defeat at Silarus.
One of the biggest lessons I took away from Spartacus as a leader was this:
YOU CAN’T TAKE PEOPLE WHERE THEY WILL NOT GO
Spartacus was a Thracian, meaning he was from Thrace, modern day Bulgaria. The Italian peninsula was not his home. His army was a mix of Thracians and Celts (or Gauls). By 72 BC, Spartacus had led this disparate of Thracians and Celts all the north to Mutina. Apparently, he was planning to lead his army across the Alps and out of the Italian peninsula…perhaps even back to his home land of Thrace.
At Mutina, Spartacus’s army meets and defeats army commanded by the proconsul of Cisalpine Gaul at Mutina. The victory means the doors to the Alps, the exit out of Italian peninsula, now lay wide open.
But he and the army turn south.
According to Strauss,
Many theories have been proposed, but the best explanation was already hinted at in the ancient sources. Spartacus’s own men probably vetoed him. In the past, they had never wanted to leave Italy; no success might have gone to their heads and aroused visions of Rome in flames.
I think there are 3 key reasons and 3 lessons pastors can learn from Spartacus and the army he led, and his turn south away from their destination…away from Spartacus’s vision.
Reason 1: Culture
Though much of his army was culturally Thracian and Celt…they had been born in Italy and it was in Italy they would exact their revenge for their grievances. For Spartacus to say he was leading them to their homeland and possibly escape was only partially true. They were culturally Thracian and Celt, but they we born in Italy. Their homeland was the ground they were now fighting on.
Our churches too have a culture. A pastor can set a vision for a direction, a vision for a destination, but in the end, culture will determine success. Culture trumps vision.
Just as Spartacus’s men would not cross the Alps with him, so too, those a pastor leads will not follow, if, ultimately, the vision is at odds with their culture.
Reason 2: Convinced
Spartacus’s army had crushed every Roman army they had met. It is easy to become elated with past success and not want to turn from pursuing more…even to our own detriment.
Perhaps he [Spartacus] had acquired a foolish belief in his own invincibility. Perhaps he too forgot the Roman habit of responding slowly but inexorably to those who attacked Rome. He might have allowed himself a luxury that no general can afford: hope.
Spartacus’s men were starting to think they were invincible and this might have been influencing their leader as well.
Thankfully pastors have hope. We have THE hope. But that does not mean we should continue a course of action just because we have been successful in the past. We must be aware and when the time to change…to walk through the open door…is upon us.
Reason 3: Challenge
Sometimes the challenge will just seem to big. Though a leader sees it as possible, those we lead do not.
The last straw might simply have been the sight of the Alps. As anyone who has ever looked up from the plain toward the rock wall of the Italian Alps knows, the mountains are overpowering. Most people in Spartacus’s army had probably never seen the Alps before. Many of them had never left southern or central Italy.
And so Spartacus and his army headed south. Spartacus could not lead his army where they would not go. A while future victories of more Roman armies awaited them…they could not avoid the inevitable; that turning away and heading back meant the end for all of them.
Pastors must consider the culture of those they lead, what their past successes have convinced they can do or should, and the challenge their vision will create for those they lead.
1. Culture can overcome vision.
2. Past successes can convince those you lead not to pursue a new direction.
3. Challenges that appears to big to attempt can make all turn back….
The role of the pastor is to anticipate these challenges and prayerfully, wisely, and effectively keep the eyes of those they lead on Jesus and the hope and promises we have in Him to reach our destination with Him and for Him.
I am sure Kirk Douglas would say the same.
I was reading something Peter Drucker wrote about leading and managing knowledge workers. A question arose in my mind about pastors and ministry leaders.
Are pastors and ministry leaders considered knowledge workers?
Wikipedia defines Knowledge Workers as..
Knowledge workers are workers whose main capital is knowledge…because they ‘think for a living.’
To continue the thought a bit more, if pastors and ministry leaders were considered knowledge workers, what would we need to know how to do?
From the great blog Education Futures I came upon this list of 19 skills for the knowledge worker of the future.
So, based on this list…do you consider yourself to be knowledge worker?
Do you see the need to develop these skills in the context of your leadership or ministry?
What would you add?
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Proverbs 1:7
Adapt or Confront
Never adapt to that which should be confronted.
Vision, Service, Thankfulness
“The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant.” – Max DePree
That’s Not Right
We don’t talk about it. We often pretend it doesn’t exist. We think we can ignore it….but leaders can’t.
And it might be the BIGGEST areas of discontent for those we lead.
It’s failing to do what ever is in your power as a leader…to do what is right.
It is difficult to make everything fair. Some ministries will simply work harder than others due to the nature of the ministry. Traffic will have a harder job, being outside parking cars, than the greeters standing in the entrance.
Some people on your team will likely work more hours than others. Someone on your team will probably get paid more than others.
It’s not always fair, but most followers can understand the differences. It’s important that a leader not try to hide the fact that it isn’t fair.
Followers are looking carefully at a leader to do what is right.
When there are gaping differences in how team members are treated, compensated, held accountable, praised, recognized, or rewarded problems can arise.
If there are big differences between similar roles or positions on your team they start to think to themselves, “Hey, this is not right.”
Leaders fail at being right all the time, we just chose to ignore it or pretend it’s not important.
But we all know that those we lead are thinking about it…and they are thinking about it a lot because we were all followers of leaders at one time…and we were all thinking about it too.
Followers constantly thinking about what is right and wondering why their leaders are not doing anything to address it.
This happens in every organization that employs people.
But we ignore it. We don’t like to talk about it. We say things like, “Hey, I had to do that too” or “That’s just how it is.”
But we make no effort to fix it or address it…and that’s not right.
The perception of a leader will often, for good or bad, be based on the extent he or she tries to make things right or fails to make things right.
“The time is always right to do what is right.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
Good Shepherds are Good Sheep
“Many who aspire to leadership fail because they have never learned to follow.” – J. Oswald Sanders
Looking For The One, Praying For The One, Being The One
Simeon reminds us that our mission may be to be on watch and look for The One…not to be The One.
Our worship leader played his last services this weekend on way to his move to Colorado to help plant a church. I admired him for his leadership and for his faith. Here are a few things he taught me…
A true worship leader leads you into worship…they don’t just tell you to go there.
Worship music is a noun…worshiping through music is a verb.
Worship is what you do with your life. It’ s not just three songs on Sunday.
A true worship leader is a servant leader…they help build the stage before they stand on it.
A true worship leader doesn’t just tell you stand up….they make you feel like, in spite of the pain in our lives….that we can stand up.
A true worship leader does more than wave the towel…they wrap the towel around their waist and wash feet.
Some leaders focus so much on the crown…but while we are on this earth servant leaders are to focus on the cup and towel.
The work comes before the reward.
Some king rule so that others may serve them. A servant leader rules so that he/she may serve others.
Each week we are asked to pour into others. But we cannot pour into others what we do not have. Who is pouring into you?
Servant leaders are always aware of where their team is in terms of being empty or full. It is duty of a servant leader to meaningfully pour into his/her team.
Too many teams are running on empty. They need to be replenished.
It is also the duty of the servant leader to find mentors (trusted others) who can pour into them.
We all have a default setting in our hearts and minds that wants what we think is fair. We want fairness in our work load, fairness in our pay, fairness in our recognition, fairness in our opportunity. But fairness rarely happens and in most cases, when pursued, leads to problems.
What we can pursue is what is right. We may not be able to control all things or make things fair…but we can do what is right.
A leader may not be able to do what is fair, but a leader can do what is right.
A servant leader will do the right thing…not the easy thing.
Each week I collect my random reflections, thoughts, and observations on leading, learning, and the church from my week and the weekend’s 4 services. There is no rhyme or reason, it is simply what was on my mind from my previous week…. I call it Pastor’s Leadership Notebook.
photo credit: ::: M @ X ::: via photopin cc