Thursday, May 08, 2008

My Personal Lessons on Leadership

I have had the opportunity and the privilege of being in a leadership position in ministry for over 20 years. After 8 years as a Youth Pastor in Ohio, 9 years of being a Senior Pastor in Indiana and now coming up on 4 years this August as the Senior Pastor here at Grace Church in Lititz, there are some things I have learned about leadership. These may not all be true of every leader in ministry, but they have been true for me thus far.

True leadership begins with being a great follower! I learned this from watching Jim Moon, who was the associate pastor for Dr Jerry Falwell during the four years that I was in school at Liberty in Lynchburg, Virginia. As I spent 8 years of ministry under Steve Peters, who was my Senior Pastor where I Youth Pastored, I did my best to be a good follower of his leadership. Joshua did the same thing in Scripture. Before he became a great leader of Israel, he first was a great follower of a leader before him named Moses.

True leadership seems popular but it is often lonely! I have found that those in leadership appear to have many close friends because they are in the limelight and everyone knows them. But the truth is that in over 20 years of leadership I have become very close to just a very few individuals. Part of it is my personality but part of it comes with being in leadership. I guess much of it has to do with feeling like “the guard” always has to be up and realizing that with personal vulnerability comes great risk.

True leadership is essential for success! Dr Falwell use to always say that everything rises and falls on leadership. I couldn’t agree more. Businesses, organizations and even ministries that grow have real leaders at the helm. Israel had Moses, Joshua and David. The early church had Peter, James and John. Grace Church here in Lititz was blessed to have Dr Jerry Young as its leader for 33 years. I honestly feel like one of the main reasons why many churches are plateaued or in decline is because of a lack of true leadership.

True leadership will always disappoint people! At last year’ Leadership Summit, John Ortberg gave a “tongue-in-cheek” definition of leadership that has stuck with me. He simply said that leadership is disappointing people at a rate they can stand. How true! Being the Senior Pastor of a church that runs 1400 on Sunday, has a school and daycare with over 400 students, and oversees over 100 employees, I have found that it doesn’t matter what decision I make, I will always be disappointing someone.

True leadership is never satisfied! Leaders are never satisfied with present progress. They always have a thirst for more and a burning vision to climb the next mountain. True leaders have the courage needed to be innovative. They see change as a pathway to greater success and are willing to take risks even if it means experiencing some failure.

True leadership will always have critics! What president had no critics? Even Jesus had His critics. Many leaders will stop in their tracks when faced with criticism. True leadership doesn’t. It forges ahead. True leaders follow their calling not their critics.

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