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5 Things I Got Right as a Leader

Gail and I served in a Chicago-area congregation for 25 years. We arrived on the 125th anniversary. Left at the 150th anniversary.

I already shared 5 Things I Wish I had Learned Sooner and My 5 Biggest Mistakes.

Here are 5 things we got right as leaders:


We listened to the stories. Lots of stories over 125 years. No one ever told us that if you don’t love them you can’t lead them…but we got that one right. To be honest, at first they were difficult to love. They barked and complained a lot. Eventually we became the chief story tellers from the sainted generation that had shared them with us.


It was hard at first. 20 years of protracted decline. People develop a mentality of wanting to control more and more of less and less when they’re dying. When they need to do the opposite. Birth a new vision. Ask God to bless a new season.

3 – PLI.

We joined PLI. We became mentors. Our church included investing in others’ church leaders in our annual budget. People ahead of us invested in us. Coached us. Encouraged us. Sometimes consoled us.


We trusted the Holy Spirit to work through Word and Sacrament to change lives. And He did. The Law convicts but grace is sweet.


We modeled and taught biblical giving and generosity every year. We always invited people to take a next step in their giving. Ours was a generous congregation not a wealthy congregation.

Leaders can be hard on themselves. Carry scars. Unresolved conflicts. Allow their “accomplishments” to wrongly define their worth.

Here are two things…

  1. Name two or three things you “got right” as a congregational leader.
  2. Remind yourself and reclaim your identity as a baptized child of God. A son or daughter of the Father. Well pleased in you.

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