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Leading with What’s Left

Mistakes Leaders Make and How to Fix Them

“I’m not sure how much I have left.”

There have been a few pivotal moments/seasons in my leadership years where I’ve hauntingly wondered, occasionally voiced, “I’m not sure how much I have left.”

I’d tell Gail. In my darkest “wonder what’s left” it was sometimes difficult even to tell her.

Most congregation leaders—pastors, spouses, laity—if you believe the reports, they seriously wonder “what’s left.” And too often they quit or wreck their lives or quietly make the jump to disengagement.

And it’s no wonder, really…

  • Those of us trained for what we do…we were trained for a world that’s quickly disappearing.
  • Most churches are “stuck” clinging to the past, refusing adaptive change, surrendering hope or bouncing to the next quick fix.
  • Larger congregational malaise is projected on leaders… If only they…
    • Visioned Clearer.
    • Loved More.
    • Preached Better.

But there’s an advantage to all of this! Arrogance or assured self-confidence get squeezed out of us; only “solid ground” faith in God and an abiding trust in God’s Spirit to work amazingly and miraculously through His Word remains.

Leaders make several mistakes… at 23, 43 or 63… All are fixable. All can restore “what’s left.”

  1. INVESTMENT AND SABBATH
    We stay in production mode day after day, week after week, allowing no opportunity for reinvestment or extended Sabbath.
  2. COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION
    We isolate when safe, honest community with others who can love us for who we are and love us enough to not leave us where we’re at is essential.
  3. COVENANT IDENTITY
    We are what we do. Success… Failure… We allow it to define us. It’s important to remember and rehearse our baptismal covenant as adopted children of the Father.
  4. PASSION AND STRENGTHS
    We drift toward weeks filled with doing what we’re not good at doing. Doing what doesn’t match our essence. We’d do better to lead ourselves in doing more of what we’re passionate about that fits our strengths.

During my darkest “wonder what’s left” seasons (funny how they can come at any age or stage of life) when I was making all 4 mistakes, someone would invite me into safe, honest, relationship.

  • Give me time.
  • Speak vision back into my life.
  • Extend grace. Remind me that I was more than what I did or what someone(s) else thought.

HERE’S YOUR INVITATION 

Hundreds and hundreds of leaders unexpectedly find the same in PLI. Consider this your invitation to join one of the new PLI learning communities this fall and reinvest in yourself. It’s time to assume leadership of yourself. If you’re married, tell your spouse. Reinvest together. Get it in the budget. Contact Raechel today. Tell her what you’re thinking. OR take another course of action that may better suit you. But, take action.

You’ll discover that the journey through “what’s left?” will make you a better leader. Give you greater clarity. More courage. And a fuller, humbler trust in God.

Thanks for leading…. yourself.

Jock Ficken
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken

2 Responses

  1. Dan Prugh says:

    Great article Jock! This is so true. Just what I needed to hear today. Thank you!

  2. Tim Brandt says:

    Thanks for sharing these insights – many if not all of the reasons I am no longer in the parish. PLI was a huge help to me and my wife at the absolute lowest point of ministry. The good news is that although there was “nothing left” in that setting, there was “something more” elsewhere. Blessings to PLI!
    Tim Brandt
    PLI, 2001-2004

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