“Of course! I know what I’m doing! I’m doing everything I should be doing. In fact I’m doing far more than I should be doing! I wish I could do more.”
What do you see happening around you? “If I’m honest, I really don’t like where my church and ministry are going. I see things that are not done. I see things that are ignored. I see people not doing some good things and instead doing other things. But what can I do? I am only one person!”
The hard truth: Chances are that what you see happening around you is probably very closely related and effected by what you are doing. Yes. What you do does impact what your ministry is like. It is not always the previous leader’s fault nor is it always because of those rascally followers. As Arthur Jones, Australian born scholar has said, “All organizations are perfectly aligned to get the results that they are getting.” This is closely related to what Dr. Henry Cloud says, “You get what you create and what you allow.”
So look again. What do you see around you? What behaviors, attitudes, actions, non-actions do you see among those you lead? Whether it is a denomination, district, region, circuit, congregation or small group of people it is still true. What people are doing or not doing is directly related to what you as a leader are doing or not doing. You set the pace. You define what is important and what is less so. You set the tone. You really do have influence.
So if you don’t like something, instead of pointing the finger, start reflecting deeply. Ask: What am I really doing?
It is easy to be self deceived. So perhaps you can look over your calendar for the last week or month or year. What are you spending your time doing? What are you not doing? A while back I was talking to a pastor who had received a lot more new members than had been the norm. I asked how he understood what happened. He said he was a bit embarrassed at the truth. He was actually following up on visitors. Thankfully his church actually had visitors! He admitted what was easy to deny. Previously, his church was not involved in a basic task. He started doing it and results came. It should not be a surprise. But it came with first asking, “What am I really doing?”
If your church is burning up a lot of time with internal squabbles, what are you doing to focus their attention outwardly? If they seem disinterested in what is going on then ask, what message are you sending about why you are there and why you exist? Perhaps it has been assumed for so long that it has been forgotten and now they are only focused on picking on each other. Are people drifting away? Perhaps you are experiencing “mission drift” as a ministry. Those drifting are assuming it is not necessary to be there, not wanted, not needed. Know this: people will rarely engage in personal improvement for its own sake. Yet when they see that it is necessary for who they are and what they are doing, they will avail themselves of things like worship and Bible study all the more.
How are you as the leader modeling priorities and values with your own time. What message are you sending when you do what others can (and should) be doing? Are you alleviating them of responsibility and opportunities for growth? Are you stressing making disciples or something else? What message are you really sending?
Sure there are standard menu items of every ministry leader. Worship planning and sermon planning and Bible study preparation, visitation and pastoral care. Yet if this is all you actually do, in spite of what you say, it is no wonder people perceive the church as a commodity to consume rather than a place of refuge for the weary servant and disciple of Christ engaged in His mission. Think about it. What does a faithful alternative look like?
So if you don’t like something, instead of pointing the finger, start reflecting. Deeply. That reflection may be tough to do alone or with other “insiders.” It’s hard to ask yourself hard questions or to even think of them. Consider engaging a coach. That is, if you are really serious about asking what you are really doing. When I have it has been some of the most challenging times of my life, in a very good way
Scott Gress is called by Lutheran Counseling Services and partners with the FL-GA District of the Lutheran Church as an independent contractor. He specializes in Leadership Training, Consulting, Coaching and Coach Training. Contact Scott to continue the conversation or experience a free sample coaching session. 561-542-4472, firstname.lastname@example.org or scottgress.com
"Helping leaders be more productive - less controlling"