Personal Files: Leadership Lessons

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As I stated in a recent blog, I have learned quite a bit about myself over the past few years while undertaking this church planting journey. I have been taught quite a few things about what it means to be a leader. Granted, I learned most of them from my own mistakes and failures, but those are often the greatest lessons. So I will humbly submit a few for your perusal. After all, we are ALL leaders in some capacity even if we may not have a title that goes with it and we can all learn a little more on how to have more influence on the world around us!

You Can’t Do Everything!
You can try, but it is going to lead to multiple issues. Just because an idea sounds good and may even be good…doesn’t mean you should do it. The old saying “You can be a jack of all trades and a master at none” can certainly describe many leaders. We get involved in so many endeavors and say “Yes” to so many things! I know a lot of leaders that “do” a lot of things…but do them all at about 75%. Nothing they do is done with excellence. Because they lacked discernment and misjudged their own abilities and capacity, they have chosen quantity over quality. The problem with this is that it simply leads to mediocrity and people have a hard time following a leader that consistently turns out mediocre results. If you want to grow as a leader, take some time to sit down and really think through your priorities, abilities and goals. What are the handful of things that you are passionate about and you have gifts/abilities to do? I have come to the place in my work as a ministry leader where I have learned I have about 3 big things that I am supposed to be involved in. Sure there are obviously times when a leader has to do something he or she isn’t passionate about…but you would be well served to figure out your key leadership areas and begin to filter all of your actions through them. If an activity or project doesn’t fit the parameters (and if at all possible)…say no…or delegate it to someone else. Remember, the more you add to your plate the less time, energy and focus you have for the things on your plate. In a nutshell…multitasking sounds productive but generally produces poor quality work.

Find Balance
Quite a few leaders are visionary. Visionary in the sense that they are “big picture” thinkers who see plenty of dreams and visions about how things could be. It is then these visions that fuels their passion and drive to get things accomplished. One of the great temptations for these type of leaders is to let the vision consume more of their thoughts and actions than they should. Over the last few years I have seen this in my own life as I have often allowed the vision of planting a church take up far too much room in my mind and heart. When this energy is focused and in moderation…it has been a great blessing. But left unchecked, it will reek havoc on you spiritually, mentally and physically. It is important for leaders to find a good balance. We must learn to channel our energy and passion and then find healthy ways to disengage it. After all your passion and work does not define you (see previous blog)! We must force ourselves to take time off regularly. Step away…turn off the phone. Get exercise. Get a hobby. Spend regular quality time with our family. Whatever it takes to balance out the incessant need to produce and push the ball forward in our work. I promise everything will not come crashing down around you…and if by chance it did, then it was probably based too much on you anyway. 🙂

Be Intentional with Growth
We should always be seeking to grow as a leader. The more we grow, the greater the influence we have on others. Leadership is a skill and it can be learned. What are we doing to further our growth? Do we seek out opportunities to stretch ourselves? You have to take the reins and be intentional about planning your growth as a leader. No one else is going to do it for you. Find someone you look up to in leadership and ask them to mentor/ coach you. Surround yourself regularly with other high capacity leaders for the inspiration and encouragement that comes from being around them. Develop a reading plan and commit to reading books and articles on leadership regularly. I had to take a crash course on church planting leadership when I first began this journey and so I purposefully read and studied everything I could get my hands on and this has become a common practice for me. If we don’t take charge of our own personal development how do we ever expect it to happen? For years I simply coasted by with minimal efforts in my own development and reaped the minimal rewards of such efforts. While you are so busy trying to develop other leaders around you…don’t neglect your own growth. If you’re not growing you’re dying.

Well that’s certainly not even close to being an exhaustive list of what I am learning about leadership these days…but enough for one blog. Maybe I will share more soon! Please continue to pray for me as I am still learning in the areas above and in so many more. We never “arrive” and are constantly in the classroom of life. Thanks for taking the time to read my thoughts. I hope that in some small way they help or at least stir thinking about these things! Lead on my friend!

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