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PLI is devoted to empowering leaders for wider influence for the sake of the gospel in their communities and effective leadership in their ministries. Learn more about our vision and process here.


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We provide a number of resources and materials to educate both our participants and the general public on effective leadership principles.


Interested in how PLI can impact your ministry? We'd love to get to know you and learn how we can empower your ministry.

Adaptive Leaders Dig Deep

As leaders we are supposed to have the answers. Right? But the world is ever changing and this leaves us feeling off balance. Uncertain.

It takes courage and skill to step out and move into the unknown. We would like to offer five adaptive skills you need to practice in 2018 to lead in this ever changing world. We’ll dissect one each week.

Most congregations are stuck and incapable of taking on the challenge of boldly adapting to a changing world and staying theologically true and true to the mission God has entrusted to them.

  • They’ve tried harder.   
  • They’ve talked more.
  • They’ve touted new visions and extolled new directions.

In many ways we’re imaginatively gridlocked.  

Many older leaders never met a problem that we couldn’t solve by “addition.” And we added to worship attendance. Added to offerings. Added to programs. Added campuses.

Addition…which seemed to work for so long…is no longer working so well.

We’ve failed to recognize that our congregations are faced with the challenge of adapting to a world that didn’t used to exist. And the world that used to exist, exists no more…along with its well practiced patterns that used to work.

So, we’re forced to surrender. Or we’re forced to do the hard work of leading in a new way.

Leading change in a change-resistant (congregational) culture is a tough gig. –Kevin Ford

And leading in a new way frequently starts with digging deep and gaining fresh clarity about ourselves and clarity about our congregations.

Leaders lead out of who they are not just what they do. –John Busacker

In an old world, speaking was leading. If you were a good speaker, you had a pretty good chance of leading.

And if you’re still riding the “speaking is leading” horse, you’re heading toward the barn! Today “speaking is leading” must be complemented with equal parts adaptation, deeply invested relationships, all accented with an edge toward pioneer.

One of our international teams lead by Scott and Lori Rische left for Africa yesterday. Among the things they’ll teach the next weeks will be this foundational truth.  

Leaders can’t lead well if they don’t possess the trust, confidence and respect of the people they lead. And…

  • Trust is built on a leader’s character.
  • Confidence is built on a leader’s clarity.
  • Respect is built on a leader’s competence.

We’ve experienced that’s it’s absolutely transforming for leaders AND for the congregations they lead when leaders Dig Deep and do the foundational work around personal…

  • Character and lead with integrity, honesty, and humility, and become aware of their shadow side that too often hijacks.
  • Clarity and lead with an understanding of who they are…the influences that shaped them, their values, their God-inspired personal vision.
  • Competence and lead primarily out of their strengths that give them energy and fulfillment.

It’s absolutely transforming when leaders…men and women…do the hard work of digging deep.

A champion in the PLI family confided recently that it seemed like they were coming to the end of a ministry season for he, his wife and family. “We’ve spent time clarifying our values and we think we could best serve a congregation that might have similar values as ours.”

Could you imagine a system where congregations try to market themselves to potential new pastors with their best foot forward and a promise that “we want you to come and help us change,” and pastors that all too often describe themselves in ways that they think might “sell”? Imagine if leaders and congregations alike did the hard work of digging deep and putting a name on who they are and could say:

  • Here are our values.
  • Here’s the opportunity.
  • Here’s our greatest challenge.
  • Is God leading us to a “fit”?

Can you imagine how many square pegs would end up in square churches and round leaders would end up in round holes?

So, my guess? It’s time for you to dig deep and do the hard work  of working out these foundations or refreshing what you discovered 5 years or 15 years ago.

So, can you…

  • Join us in praying for your brothers and sisters in Ethiopia in a few weeks.
  • Check out Leadership Essentials Chicago Fall 2018.
  • Contact Raechel and tell her you’d be interested in a refresh. It’s a new day. Need to do some new work.

Here’s the reality: You’ll never ask the new questions that you’ve been afraid to ask or too busy or too proud to ask if you don’t dig deep and understand who you are.

Leadership doesn’t need to be…

  • A never ending series of tasks and demands that offer no fulfillment.
  • Square peg…Round church.
  • Dreaming about a different career, different role or simply slumping toward retirement.

Leadership is not going to get any easier. And it won’t get better by convincing yourself that yesterday’s solution will be the answer to today’s challenges.

Jock Ficken
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

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