Tag Archives: Leadership qualities

Christian Leadership Development #4

Essential Leadership Skill #2

Developing Culture.

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Culture = the shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterizes any organized group of people.

Culture identifies what is important to a body of believers, reflecting the vision, values and purpose of the assembly. A well-defined culture promotes momentum, creates unity and provides stability.

            With culture, everything rises and falls on the leadership. Leaders provide more influence in shaping a church’s culture than any other factor and the senior pastor/leader is the key player when it comes to establishing culture.

3 ways leaders shape culture:

1) Leaders shape culture through personal influence.

            All leaders must embody the culture in which they are endeavoring to establish. Culture is always established within the leadership team before it can be effectively established in the congregation. Once there is unity of culture in the leadership team you can begin to cast the vision of culture to those following. Remember that establishing culture is a marathon and not a sprint.

2) Leaders set direction and cast vision.

culture2            The focus of the congregation on its future and direction is vital to the success and health of the ministry. The vision of the church must be well defined and consistently emphasized. Not with long wordy explanations, but with short concise statements that embody the culture of the ministry and speaks to who you are as a people. The skillful use of language and terminology is a powerful tool. Language impacts the way people think and behave, what they value, and ultimately what they begin to believe. It is the belief in the vision that the leader is after and being creative in how you cast vision and set direction shapes culture faster and more effectively.

3) Leaders equip the saints and hold God’s word in the highest regard.

Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ          

            The purpose of 5-fold ministry is to equip the body to do the work of the ministry. Not all leaders are 5-fold ministry gifts, but all leaders are called to help equip the saints.            Great leaders shape their church’s culture in ways that reflect obedience to the Word of God. The most powerful way to shape or change a church’s culture is through teaching what God’s Word has to say about the church. Associate pastors, team leaders and department heads should be knowledgeable in the Word, emphasizing what is spoken from the pulpit and inspiring the flock to run with the vision of the house.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

            In order to change the behavior of a church, the values of the church must first be changed. To change the values of the church, the beliefs of the church must be changed. The most effective way of addressing people’s deeply held assumptions and wrong beliefs is to teach God’s Word. Many people will not change what they believe simply because the pastors and leaders believe it. They must be shown from the Bible why they need to change.

            Great leaders always demonstrate to the people that the change they are proposing is rooted in scripture. This helps them recognize the need for change and see that the authority to demand that change goes beyond the influence of the pastoral leadership and comes directly from God.

            Developing a culture where the Word of God is final authority is the only solid foundation to build upon. Taking time with your leaders to help define the culture of the house will produce much fruit in the future.

            Don’t be rushed into defining your culture. Have leadership meetings to discuss ideas and hold it up as a prayer target. Visit other successful ministries to experience their culture. Read books on church culture. Give a survey to the faithful, active members of your congregation and get their feedback. Allowing these people to have a voice develops influence. You don’t necessarily have to follow their suggestions, but allowing them input gives them a sense of belonging and importance that makes them feel like they are a part of the process and an important part of the ministry.

3 important questions to help you define your church culture:

1) What do you care most about as a ministry or congregation?

important            The truth is, you can’t care about everything. This doesn’t suggest that there are some things you actually don’t care about, but helps you understanding that each ministry and every local assembly has a specific role to play and a specific mission to accomplish. Your church/ministry is a part of the body, not the whole body, and each part needs to focus on, and emphasize the things that God has assigned to you specifically. Clearly defining God’s assignment is the foundation upon which culture is established.

Here are a few questions that will help identify what is important to your culture. 

  • What has God put on your heart and the heart of the leadership team?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What keeps you awake at night because you feel something must be done?
  • What ministries are currently thriving and effective?
  • What ministries are non-negotiable?

            2) What are you doing about what you care about?

            What you do is an expression of who you are. Selecting what ministries you do and don’t do plays a major part in setting the culture. It’s not enough to say “we have a heart for the homeless,” what are you actually doing about it?

James 2:18-20 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?

  Culture is an expression of your faith, a reflection of your beliefs. What you do, and don’t do, from missions to local outreach, to how you embrace first time guests, to developing leaders all plays a significant role in shaping your culture. You don’t need to tell visitors what your culture is, they experience it. What you do from the parking lot to the pulpit shouts culture.

            Every ministry will find its own cultural expression. Culture is impacted by things like age demographic, location, and ethnic mix. Also, style and preference play a big part. Is your church more casual or formal? What is your style of worship? Don’t worry too much about these factors, they will develop naturally. It is what you do about what you care about that sets the culture.

3) How do you do ministry?

            It’s a given that churches do ministry differently. Leadership style, theology, ministry priorities, finances, etc. will naturally cause the leaders to practice ministry a little differently from church to church. How you do what you do sends a message about who you are.

            Every church should strive for excellence in ministry in every department, from the cleaning team to the worship team to the leadership team. Excellence is simply doing your very best with every task, every function, in every area, and every department. Your best is only your best until you can do better.

            If you are starting a ministry you may have all the responsibilities, from cleaning the toilets to preaching from the pulpit. This doesn’t excuse you from excellence. You should give Christ your best in every situation and if you start with this attitude it will be easier to acclimate others to a culture of excellence as they come on board.

Colossians 3:23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,

            This has a huge impact on culture. Excellence, as with most things, begins and ends with leadership. Leaders should regularly be asking themselves, “Can we do better?” As more staff and volunteers are added and more resources become available the level of excellence should evolve and become more apparent.

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            Excellence is a mentality that requires constant training, emphasis and maintenance. People can easily slip into the “it’s good enough” mentality. This shows a lack of understanding about what they are doing and why they are doing it. A congregation will never rise above the level of excellence portrayed by their leaders so it is your responsibility to model excellence in everything you do.

When culture is healthy and well defined, it prepares you for growth and success in ministry.

3 things that happen with a well-defined church culture:

1) Evangelism will increase.

            People will love being there and talk to others about the amazing church they attend. It creates a desire within the body to invite others to get involved. Your church will become attractive to the community and make it easier to fulfill its vision.

2) Spiritual growth increases throughout the body.

            People flourish in the place of their assignment. A strong culture creates a sense of belonging and inspires people to get involved, taking ownership of some portion of the ministry. This allows people to develop and use their gifts and talents causing growth and strength in the individual. In turn, this develops strong, healthy relationships and edifies the body as a whole. One of the most rewarding things for leaders to witness is growth and health of their followers. This is what makes leadership exciting and rewarding.

3) It attracts great leaders.

            Up and coming leaders will join themselves to the ministry. This creates a pool of leaders to mentor and disciple which will prepare you for future growth and additional ministry outreach.

Question: Can you define the culture of your ministry right now?

Question: Who sets the culture of a ministry?

Question: What systems need to be in place in order to define your culture?

Question: What is happening right now in your ministry that does not reflect your culture?

Question: Is excellence in ministry a focus of the leadership?

Question: What areas of ministry can you do better with minimal effort, and why aren’t you doing it?

Question: What changes need to take place within your leadership team?

Christian Leadership Development #3

Essential Leadership Skills

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Leadership is the ability to mobilize others to willingly accomplish a common mission. People follow leaders because they choose to, not because they have to.       

1) Developing and Maintaining Influence.

  • All leadership skills are to help the leader develop and maintain influence.           

          Influence is the ability to convince, inspire, persuade, and encourage others to follow them. Without influence there is no one to lead. A Leader’s effectiveness can be measured by the amount of influence they have over the ones they lead.

 

  • If you are not willing to serve, you are not qualified to lead.

           Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. 26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” 

           The best leaders in any capacity are, without fail, are the best of servants to those they are leading. When we hear the word, “servant” we tend to think of a slave or a hired hand. In the case of leadership it takes on a much higher and nobler meaning. A servant leader is one who is devoted to meeting the needs of those he is leading.

 

  • Leadership is not management.

            You lead people and you manage things, logistics, resources, plans, vision, etc. There is a huge difference between leaders and managers. Anyone can be a manager but not all managers are leaders. Managers are appointed to a position of power. Leaders gain authority by developing influence. People that are managed do things because they have to. People that are led do things because they want to.

Power vs. Authority

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Power – The ability or right to force or coerce people to do your will, regardless of their willingness to do so, because of your title, position, might, skill etc.

            Maybe you have heard phrases like: “Do it or else!” or “Do it because I said so!” or “Do it or you’re fired!” This is the use of Power. Power forces people do your will. Power can be given and taken away. It can be bought or sold. People can attain a position of power by any number of unjust means. Not so with Authority.

            The use of power has its place, but continued use of power will erode relationships and create tension. You may be able get a few seasons out of power, you may even accomplish some great things, but it is usually at the expense of healthy relationships and healthy relationships are the key to maintaining influence and authority.

All great leaders pursue, cultivate and protect healthy relationships.

Authority – The ability or skill of getting people to do your will because of your personal influence in their life just because you asked them to.

Authority = Influence

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            We are all called to lead in some capacity. In our families, at our jobs, in our local government, or maybe on a sports team. Although we may not see ourselves as leaders, everyone is called to live a life that leads others to Christ. Look at this powerful scripture in Ephesians.

          Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV)  Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

            This passage is a goldmine of revelation for leaders. Follow God’s example…walk in love…and give yourself for the benefit of other. Understanding that God has given YOU as gift to others will keep your role in the proper perspective.

            How we live our daily lives determines the amount of influence we have on those around us. When we are examples in speech, conduct, and character we become salt and light to those around us, building confidence in others to follow us and create a desire within them to help fulfill God’s vision and purpose for the church.

Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.

            Ministry leaders that work primarily with volunteers must be skillful in leading with authority because the use of power will drive volunteers away. Authority grows as respect for the individual grows. Once you have earned respect, your influence will begin to increase as long as you are consistent.

            Power can be handed from one person to another. Authority must be developed and maintained. When power is used consistently, resentment, division, strife and discord will surely follow.

          Developing and maintaining influence is what builds a faithful following and a dynamic leadership team. It is also the foundation upon which you develop a culture among your followers.

Question: What is the difference between power and authority?

Question: What 3 areas can you improve on to increase your influence with others?

Question: Can influence be delegated?

Question: Why are healthy relationships important to leaders?

Question: In your opinion, what 3 qualifications for leadership are the most important?

Question: How do you define influence?

Christian Leadership Development #2

Leadership Mentoring Development

            Not all followers of Christ are qualified to lead and not all potential leaders are qualified to lead now. Being a leader requires two main things, development of Christ-like character and development of leadership skills. Character without leadership skills causes frustration and discontent from the body and with other leaders. Skill swithout character produces animosity and mistrust from the body and other leaders. Both situations can set the leader up for failure and hinders the growth, development and fruitfulness of the body.

            Developing both character and skills ensures the leader will become a pillar in the church and not a stumbling block.

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Character

            Character reflects nature. It is the nature of God being expressed in our lives that is the ultimate goal. This applies to all believers, not just leaders. The character and nature of God is what all leaders are leading others to. You can’t lead another person to a place you have never been. God’s nature must be established in a leader before they are qualified to lead.

Love is God’s Nature

1st John 4:8 (NKJV) He who does not love does not know God, for God is love.

1st John 4:16 (NKJV) And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.

1st Corinthians 13:4-8a (NIV) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

            According to John, love isn’t just the nature of God, love is the embodiment of God. God IS love.

fruit6.jpg           In 1st Corinthians 13 we see how God (love) behaves. These behaviors must be developed and continually strengthened in a leader so that God’s nature can be evident to all. Embracing love (the nature of God) will bear the fruit of the Spirit.

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Galatians 5:22-24 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

            In Matthew 12:33 it tells us that a tree is known by its fruit, so let’s take a closer look at the fruit that should be hanging from the tree of a leader.

1) Love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. A leader lays down his life for others, sacrificing self in favor of another. It should never be about you.

2) Joy. Nehemiah 8:10 says, “the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Joy not only brings strength to the leader but to those around him. A good leader enjoys what he is doing and others enjoy working with him.

3) Peace. Peacemakers create an atmosphere that promotes healthy relationships with God and others. They avoid unfruitful confrontation and diffuse strife and contentious situations. A leader will find common ground to build on and will magnify the positive, not the negative.

4) Patience. Patience makes room for others to grow in their gifts and calling, providing a safe environment that allows them to make mistakes without the danger of condemnation and shame. Patience doesn’t just see the individual but has a view of what that individual will look like when completely submitted to God.

5) Goodness. Romans 2:4 tells us that it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance. Being good to people even when it costs you and doing the right thing even when it is not convenient causes people to turn to God and away from self-centered living.

6) Gentleness. 2nd Timothy 2:24 And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient.

Being mindful of proper etiquette and the emotional state of those you are dealing with, using kind words and expressing genuine concern for the individual creates a platform that you can minister from and gives you the influence to speak effectively into the lives of others.

7) Faithfulness. 1st Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful.

Leadership is a stewardship from God. Being steadfast, reliable, honorable and consistent speaks volumes about the heart and character of the leader.

8) Meekness. Meekness is not being a pushover, it is the humility of controlled strength. Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man in all the earth and yet he was the one used most in the earth at that time. There is a connection between meekness and a vessel that God can use.

9) Self-control. This can’t be accomplished without a healthy prayer life. You don’t have the ability to control yourself without the Fathers help. The more intimate time you spend with God when no one else is looking, the easier self-control will be. A robust prayer life creates constant awareness of God that makes it easy to resist temptation and make right decisions.

Question: As a leader, are you stronger in your character or your skillset?

Question: Do you, or did you have strong leaders to mentor you and help you develop as a leader?

Question: What are you a steward over right now, and what would you like to be a steward over in the future?

Question: On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rank you faithfulness?

JC

Christian Leadership Development #1

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Christian Leadership Development Series

Introduction

          What is a Christian Leader? The New Testament has some established guidelines for choosing leaders and if we don’t have these standards in place first we undermine our entire leadership culture. The other side of leadership, which is many times neglected, is developing skillsets that enable a leader to mentor and equip others for the work of the ministry. If these two thought processes are in place it provides a foundation for success that brings out the very best in all those involved.

lead.jpg          I see many churches that hold their leaders to a high standard of character and behavior but they have very low standards when choosing a leader. It is not fair to put a person in a place of leadership that requires strong character when their character has not yet been developed. I see it all the time. A person is chosen for a position of leadership simply because of availability or an obvious gifting, or even worse, people are placed in positions of leadership because of their financial contributions to the ministry with no consideration of character or maturity. It is a recipe for disappointment and disaster.

Here are a few questions to consider before choosing leaders:

  • Is the individual a devoted follower of Christ?
  • Have they proven themselves faithful or are they recent converts?
  • Do they pursue Jesus passionately and have an obvious intimate relationship with God?
  • Do they have a robust prayer life?
  • Does the individual have a good knowledge of God’s Word?
  • Are they able to encourage people to take steps to spiritual maturity?
  • Do they possess self-control?  
  • Are they gentle, hospitable, upright, holy, and disciplined?
  • Is their life an example to the flock?

          If you look at this list and fall under conviction, it’s ok. Maybe this applies to you or a person you have placed in a leadership role and you realize you have missed the mark. Don’t fret. Correction is a part of leadership, receiving it and giving it. We will address these questions in light of scripture in the following lessons and will also give you an action plan to correct any mistakes of the past and rebuild a leadership team.

          The goal of this series is to help ministries create a culture of excellence in leadership and mentoring that glorifies God and equips people and ministries to succeed.

Qualifications For Leadership

            I’m so thankful that God took out the guesswork in qualifying church leaders. The Bible lays out some very specific guidelines for choosing leaders and these guidelines are the foundation for leadership, mentoring, and ministry success. Understand that this is God’s prescribed method of choosing leaders. It is His way of determining who is, and is not qualified to lead. Being mindful of this and honoring this process inspires faith, produces strength, promotes success, prevents problems, and establishes structure and boundaries. If we adopt any other method of vetting leaders we subvert God’s plan and bring a reproach on Christ. I know that may sound harsh, but it is the harsh reality that we are faced with.

            Let’s start with qualifications for Deacons and Elders and define their roles in the church. The roles of Deacons and Elders encompass all of the qualified leader positions in the church. All others should be in a position of being groomed and mentored for these offices.

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Elders:

            Elders are the spiritual leaders of the church. They serve as pastors, associate pastors and teachers they provide general oversight on organizational, financial, and spiritual matters. Elders can be 5 fold ministry gifts that have matured in their gifting and have proven themselves faithful in ministry, serving under the authority of other leaders. Elders are not limited to 5-fold ministry gifts but should live a life in such submission to Christ that they can readily embody the expression of the 5-fold ministry at any given moment They understand that Christ is the embodiment of the 5-fold ministry and if Christ chooses to move through them as a Prophet, an Evangelist, or any other gift they yield to that expression.

            Leaders don’t find their identity in the office that they occupy, but in Christ alone. In other words, Pastor, or Teacher in not who I am, it is how I serve. A seasoned Elder will wake up every day and be willing to serve others in whatever capacity God chooses.

          An Elder understands that they exist to love and serve others, that their life is not their own and selfishness is never an option.

Deacons:

            The biblical requirements of deacons are very similar to that of elders, but there is a clear distinction between the offices. The role of a deacon may include a variety of services and differs from denomination to denomination. In general deacons function as servants, ministering to the body in practical ways. They may serve as a lead usher, oversee the benevolence outreach, lead a home group, or lead the hospitality department.

             No matter how they serve, scripture is clear that office of a deacon is a rewarding and honorable calling in the church and a necessary role for elders to function in their office. The ministry of deacons is vital to the success of the elders, it frees them up to focus on prayer, studying God’s Word, and pastoral care. It is a great example of how one body part depends on the other. Deacons are Elders in training.

Leadership requirements for Elders:

Titus 1:5-9 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you— if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

1Timothy 3:1-7 This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Leadership requirements for Deacons:

1 Timothy 3:8-13 Likewise deacons must be reverent, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience. 10 But let these also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless. 11 Likewise, their wives must be reverent, not slanderers, temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Let deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

lead1            These scriptures are not overly complicated, in fact they are very straight forward and leave no room for misinterpretation. I believe God made it simple for us so we wouldn’t mess it up. If we deviate from these simple guidelines and place an unqualified elder or deacon in a leadership role we have created a recipe for disaster.

            Placing an unqualified leader in one of these roles devalues the office in the eyes of the flock as well as the other leaders. These offices should be held in high esteem and the people in them should be honorable, above reproach, and worthy of respect. This creates structure and boundaries with the body of Christ that are clearly defined and easily understood. It shows people that there is a defined structure of authority that is from God and sends a clear message that the leadership are here for their benefit.

Question: What is one thing you could change right now to make you a more effective leader?

Question: Do you hold your leadership team to a higher standard than what you are living yourself?

Question: How much time do you spend with the Lord in prayer daily?

Question: Do you spend as much time in prayer waiting and listening as you do talking?

JC