5 Areas for Continuous Improvement as an Exec Pastor

It’s easy to get caught up in the doing of a job, be overly-led by a job role/description, maybe even make the Executive Pastor [XP] role too operational. In my opinion it is much more than just keeping an eye on the budget and all that stuff, although they are very important.

Here are 5 things I work on and remind myself of often which I hope help me in my role as an XP .

To Be a Better Listener. I acknowledge this is a much needed area of improvement for me. I like to give an opinion, yet I am learning that the XP role requires a greater willingness to listen. It has to be about helping others feel like they have been heard and understood, even if the answer is still no or not yet.

To Become More Solution-Orientated. This doesn’t mean I fix everything but I can give time and attention to a challenge or idea that others may not be able to. Sometimes this can involve some tough conversations, asking the difficult questions and digging in to understand something properly. The bigger challenge is doing so in as graceful was as possible.

To Develop Others. I am always reminding myself, what we do is all about people. I  might love a good system or process to help move things forward, however there is no substitute for being more focused on growing bigger people.

To Make it More Fun. I mentioned in church the other Sunday how I used to be the life and soul of the party and that maybe I have allowed an appropriate level of sarcasm to become cynicism. There’s an honest ouch! Life should definitely be more fun.

To Always Know the Heart of my Lead Pastor. Probably the most essential. Knowing what to say yes or no to depends on me knowing and understanding my Lead Pastors heart. This means good, regular, open and honest communication, alongside the need for a strong trust-filled working relationship. If I don’t know him well enough then I cannot act on his behalf with any confidence.

I am here to serve my Lead Pastor and his vision, which is all about God and building the local church.  It’s about being able to work well with others, including people in the process, in the decisions and empowering them to make things happen.

If you are in a similar role, what would you add to this? If you are a Lead/Senior Pastor, what would your comments be?

Why Should People Follow You? [Friday Leaders Post]

follow-me

I have learned the hard way that leadership is about more than title, it’s about more than being in a role for a long time, it’s even about more than being the oldest person in the room.

Maybe we are in a leadership role or we have a desire to be a leader in the future. Wherever we find ourselves on the leadership journey it is important that we are willing to reflect on our progress.

I have made a quick list of things that I think every leader should reflect upon., especially would-be leaders.  They may not be worded brilliantly but I hope you get the sentiment behind them. This is the kind of self-awareness I would rather discover for myself, while praying and seeking God, than have some random person come up and tell me.

Take some time to think about which side of the sentence you fall on?

You want to be a leader who others will follow but are not willing to be the follower of your own leader.

You talk about being an example but are not an example. 

You talk about giving but don’t give. 

You are happy telling others what needs to be done but not happy to do anything yourself. 

You consider your own image and reputation to be more important than that of your team. 

You say it’s all about Jesus but when people see you their opinion would be that it’s all about you. 

You talk about being teachable but are unwilling to listen to others and learn. 

You talk about a need for grace but are unforgiving towards others. 

You talk about being a leader but don’t actually lead. 

You want to be judged by your intentions while judging others based on their actions. 

You are quick to complain about others but not quick to receive the same complaints made about you. 

You see the speck as a problem in another’s eye but avoid the honking great tree in your own.

You pay attention to the level of good character and integrity in other leaders while not paying enough attention to your own character and integrity as a leader.

Leadership isn’t easy, not should it be. Like anything we want to be successful at, it takes hard work, determination, perseverance, a lot of honesty and a willingness to learn and to change.

What might you add to the list?

Leaders Serve

Leadership isn’t about power or control or hierarchy, but is it about serving.

Whenever I take the lead, whenever I place myself in that position of authority, the key isn’t what I get to do, how important I can become or feel. Instead it’s about how willing I am to serve those around me. Leaders serve others.

Am I willing to help someone?

Am I willing to care for someone?

Am i willing to bend the knee for someone?

Jesus is my ultimate role model. All the power in His hands. All the authority in His hands. All the title in His hands. Yet, He stooped down, picked up a towel and washed His disciples feet.

We might respond and say ‘well that was Jesus, he was making a point, I couldn’t do that.’ We might justify our position, speak of rights and remind about title. If we do then I think we miss the point. I have all of these but they really count for nothing if I am not willing to lay them to one side, to humble myself, to ignore the inconvenience of it all, and serve.

God gives grace to the humble. He resists the proud.

To measure my leadership by a different yardstick isn’t always comfortable but that doesn’t make it any less important. As I lead, Lord, help me to serve.

Leaders Needs Some Self-Control

Reading Ben Franklin’s autobiography has challenged me in my leadership. His ability to come up with a plan for how to do life at the age of 20 is astounding. I’m 45 and still trying to figure some of that out.

He possibly birthed the idea of self-discipline and how such an attitude helps in producing a successful life. Let’s be honest, he did alright on that philosophy. My leadership and therefore my influence is poor in comparison, but I am inspired.

Here are the 13 virtues that he determined to improve and in so doing believed he would see an improvement in how life turned out…

Temperance: eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation. In other words don’t overindulge in food or drink. In keeping this he felt that others would easier to follow.

Silence: speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. This is first to gain knowledge, which you do better by listening rather than always talking. Second it was about stopping the silliness, the prattling & joking as he put it which is the lowest form of conversation.

Order: let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time. Order is about making progress, having time for the right and beneficial things. It requires self-discipline to keep all aspects of business within its allotted time.

Resolution: resolve perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve. If you say what you’re going to do it, then do it.

Frugality: make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; waste nothing. This is not about being stingy but about being purposeful with what you have.

Industry: lose no time; be always employed in something; cut off all unnecessary actions.  Laziness is not a virtue to be celebrated. A willingness toward hard work, contributing and adding value is essential. You want success as a leader and a person then frugality and industry are extremely worthwhile partners.

Sincerity: use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly. Words matter. How we treat others matters. Personally, I would rather be thought of as sincere than insincere.

Justice: wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty. Be ready and willing to fight for what is right. Don’t knowingly hurt another or knowingly avoid standing on behalf of another either.

Moderation: avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve. 

Cleanliness: tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes or habituation. A leader who cannot look after themselves well is not a leader that others would want to follow.

Tranquility: be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or avoidable. Keep the peace, be at peace, don’t rise to everything.

Chastity: rarely use venery (sexual indulgence) but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation. Enough said really.

Humility: imitate Jesus and Socrates (that’s according to Ben Franklin)

How would you score? I looked at this list, amazed at its simplicity but also at its depth and power in its potential for making me a better leader. So I thought I’d give the plan a go. Franklin kept a record at the end of each day to note if he had failed, the aim being that with the focus on one virtue each week he would begin to see some change over time.

I’ll let you know how it goes. Or if you know me, maybe you will let me know how it goes.

5 Leadership Observations

We are heading to the end of another year with alarming speed. I must be getting old if I am complaining about how quickly time is passing. Having said that, this is the time of year for reflection and looking for lessons being learned…so here are mine…

I may not be a great leader but I am doing pretty well. I realise that may seem somewhat presumptuous on my part, and those I lead will have their own opinion. I am willing to admit the mistakes I have made.

As I lead I must make sure to help you understand me more. If you don’t ‘get’ me I can easily blame you but that would be wrong. I am responsible for how I come across, the words that I speak, the actions I take, how they impact others.

I have to be disciplined in getting out of the way so others can begin and continue to grow. We are not as clever as all of us. I am privileged to be doing what I am doing but I MUST make way for others. Just because I can doesn’t mean I should. Just because you are not doesn’t mean you can’t.

I must keep asking for and work hard to keep my permission to lead. It’s not always about what we achieve but how we achieve. Character, integrity, heart are things that people follow. To keep your permission I must guard against damaging or losing these.

I need to stay teachable, to keep my attitude for learning. For me that includes reading, listening and feedback, as well as most importantly having an awareness of what God is saying and doing.

What about you? What have you been learning about yourself in 2015.

My Leadership Score

Leadership is challenging. It never stays the same.

One thing that I have discovered since my first leadership steps in 1989 is the ability to self-evaluate. To do it often and to be as honest as possible. If I can’t be honest with myself then what kind of leader will I really make.

In regard to the growth of all aspects of my leadership I have always worked hard to keep learning. To remain flexible and teachable. I am worried that as soon as I think I have arrived I will be become outdated.

Here is how it works for me:

Whatever the area of challenge, I choose to not see it as a failure but rather as an opportunity to learn. Where am I now, where do I want to be, what’s it going to take to get me there?

Leadership is not a competition. The only person to measure myself against is the person I use to be or want to be. If I score my attitude as a leader as 5 out 10 that’s not right or wrong, it’s just my own self-evaluation. The number is irrelevant really (unless I give yourself a 10/10 which in my opinion would be somewhat arrogant. There is always room for improvement). The main purpose behind such an exercise is identify where things need work and then decide I am going to respond.

We shouldn’t be scared of this, avoid this but welcome it. It’s all part of the leadership journey and becoming a better leader.

 

5 Growth Questions

Over the last couple weeks I have had the privilege of asking 5 simple questions to a bunch of young leaders. Thought I would share them with you.

Leadership is about more than the task you have been given responsibility for. It’s about who you are becoming, the person you are while you are doing what you do.

We are leaders. More than that, we are spiritual leaders so the questions reflect this…

What have you been learning?
What is challenging you at the moment/where is the stretch?
Where do you still need to improve?
What is God saying to you?
Who do you have in your world who will pray with you?

Leadership is a balance of getting things done and knowing what it is that God wants you to do. Sometimes we focus too much on the former and not enough on the latter. When that happens we are in danger of getting out of focus, which can become leading for the sake of doing and that can be overwhelming.

Read back on my previous posts and you will discover that as much as I talk about the good characteristics of a leader I advocate more the growth of spiritual leadership.

Hope that helps. What questions do you ask of yourself to help you reflect on your leadership?