By Ken Behr
Churches need strong leadership.
John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” This is nowhere else as true as it is in the church. It takes courage to step into a role of leadership in a contemporary organization that is based on eternal truth and moral absolutes.
In my ministry in visiting, encouraging and partnering with literally hundreds of churches, there are five essential aspects of church leadership that I am committed to never forget. Here they are in a condensed form. To make it interesting, the most important is actually the last one on the list:
1) Major on majors; minor on minors — While every day there are definitely battles and struggles, we need to remember that every battle doesn’t need to be fought. Successful leaders pick their battles to ensure that if the battle is worth fighting, it is worth winning. People know that we live in an imperfect world and they are looking for leaders to make incremental improvements in those areas that are important.
2) Make time your friend — Every leader has exactly the same amount of time each day. All too often, time management is not a church leader’s strong suit. One of the key principles to remember is that you need to manage your time rather than have time manage you. Use a calendar, block out hours (yes — hours, not minutes) in each day without meetings, without interruptions to accomplish that which is important.
3) Develop leaders — Jesus is a great example for us in developing people. Jesus spent most of his time with those that were chosen to carry out the mission. These were not necessarily qualified, gifted nor remarkable individuals except that they spent quality time with Jesus. Make leadership development intentional including identifying, equipping, challenging and releasing leaders.
4) Refuel Regularly — My friend, Lance Witt, is the author of Replenish: Leading from a Healthy Soul. In his book, he speaks of the front stage and back stage of every leader. As church leaders, we are easily prone to burn out and succumb to spiritual attack. One thing to remember is the three Rs in keeping our lives in balance: Recharge, Renew and Relax. Even Jesus commented, “Man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath was made for man” (Mark 2:27). This is a great lesson for our busy pastors that all too often rarely take any time off.
5) Remember your Role — The biggest advantage in the church is often overlooked. We need to remember our role as under-shepherd as Jesus is the Good Shepherd and head of the Church. This is not a ceremonial role but one that is active. Jesus leads through his Word, by modeling behavior and responding to our plans. Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
There are always new opportunities to improve our leadership. Don’t be overwhelmed in the struggle; take every opportunity to learn from others and be sure to pass on those lessons to those you lead.
Ken Behr is the executive director of Faith Dialogue, a faith-based nonprofit in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.