Good leaders create pain for themselves and for those they lead from time to time.
I was challenged a long time ago not to reduce my ministry leadership to the lowest common denominator where
- No one gets upset,
- It costs no one anything,
- Irrelevance and ineffectiveness get a passing grade.
What a gift! It’s not my job to make sure everyone’s happy on our little cruise ship called the church!
Every leader I know, when he or she is quiet before the Lord and His Word, knows when the Spirit is calling them to repent…reorient…reset their thinking, their direction, their heart. It’s true for congregations, too! In both cases that can cause pain, right? Dying to self is painful, be it an individual or a gathered people.
Congregations are helpless without leaders who listen…and then lead. No matter the cost.
Don’t misunderstand. I don’t aspire to experience pain. I can do without pain. And I don’t aspire to cause pain. I’ve always loved the people I’ve led…at least almost always… but I’ve always loved them too much to leave them where they were. You’ll create seasons of pain for yourself and for your congregation when you stay true to following God and discovering the vision that God has for your ministry.
In the process you start to normalize a congregational culture that embraces:
- Personal inconvenience for the sake of the mission.
- Collective risk that builds collective faith.
- Improvement of the familiar to be better at discipleship and mission.
- High honor for the past and the people that sacrificed for it while investing toward a new future and a next generation.
Congregations that are not challenged with a bigger vision than serving themselves will almost always be picky and petty people!
I can’t even begin to tell you how many women and men in the larger PLI family I know create pain for themselves from time to time–and for their congregations–so that people might be reached with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the prompting of God might be faithfully followed.
These leaders see:
- People who must be reached.
- Opportunities that should be pursued.
- Realities that threaten future vitality.
And they choose to lead…even at the price of pain for a season!
- Some leaders never realize they’re not supposed to be captain of the happy boat. They seek to pacify and choose to never lead.
- Lots of leaders eventually decide to no longer challenge growth…the price of shaking hands with pain is too much. They choose not to develop new skills. Their congregations are allowed to simply drift.
For younger, newer leaders…
- You almost need to be given permission to introduce pain in the early going.
- You need to lead much more with “change by addition” than “change by subtraction.”
- You need to deliver on encouragement until hope begins to dawn and the sparks of faith can again hang on to the bold promises of God.
So… where do you find yourself in all of this? What do you need to do?
Here’s an idea!
Why not raise the authenticity quotient with your leadership group… your staff… your board?
Give them this post in advance with these two questions to frame the opening of your next meeting. See if they can be both honest and encouraging. Ask them:
- How am I doing on being willing to lead like our church needs me to lead for the sake of the Mission of God? Even when it causes me or us pain?
- What about us as a leadership group? What’s the one sentence above for us to hear and not ignore?
AND…pick out a couple of leaders who are in the pit, leaders for whom leading is simply hard right now. Forward this post with your own note of encouragement.
From me? … a simple thanks to you! As a leader (leadership group), your congregation is desperately dependent upon you to listen and to lead if it’s going to be faithful in living out the mission entrusted to it.
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken