Looking back in time I remember vividly embarking on my professional career. Newly armed from all the training to debate theology with my younger counterparts I thought I was prepared. But when I attended that first leadership meeting I realized just how ill-prepared I was to lead this seasoned leadership team. All eyes turned to me as the new young rookie out of Seminary to solve the church’s problems of declining school enrollment, revitalize a Sunday School program that had more teachers than students, and a church with six years of declining worship attendance. At that point, I knew that the churches future depended in some small part on my leadership capacity along with the Holy Spirit who plays the dominant role in actual congregational growth.
What this post will provide for leaders are the Five C’s to expand your leadership capacity. Craig Groeschel shared these five points at Willow Creeks Leadership Summit in 2015. He also shared this quote, “You are the leadership lid on your organization.” I felt that weight as I sat in that first meeting facing those three ministry challenges, armed with a Master’s level theological education but an elementary level leadership capacity. So, let’s dive into this discussion.
The first lesson I had to learn is to change my self-talk. The journey to reaching your greatest potential is through your greatest fear. To avoid getting stuck as a leader you have to turn the volume to mute on those who attempt to define who God has made you and created you to be and do. You are who God says you are, not the critics. Think of Job responding to his critics in Job 12:1-5:
Job said to his friends:
2 You think you are so great,
with all the answers.
3 But I know as much as you do,
and so does everyone else.
4 I have always lived right,
and God answered my prayers;
now friends make fun of me.
5 It’s easy to condemn
those who are suffering,
when you have no troubles.
2. Expand your Connections.
In 1269 Kublai Khan sent a request from Peking to Rome for “a hundred wise men of the Christian religion…And so I shall be baptized, and when I shall be baptized all my baron and great men will be baptized, and their subjects baptized, and so there will be more Christian here than there are in your parts.” The Mongols were then wavering in the choice of a religion. It might have been, as Kublai forecast, the greatest mass religious movement the world has ever seen. The history of all Asia would have been changed.
But what actually happened? Pope Gregory X answered by sending two Dominican friars. They got as far as Armenia, could endure no longer and returned home. So, passed the greatest missionary opportunity in the history of the church. -Dunkerly, inResource, No. 2.
You may be one connection away from changing your destiny.
3. Improve Your Competence.
As I sat in that first meeting, I had to make a tough choice. Do I let the fear of working to improve hinder my ministry from that day forward or do I do the hard work of improving my competency and raise my leadership lid? Here is a great illustration. “Complacency is a blight that saps energy, dulls attitudes, and causes a drain on the brain. The first symptom is satisfaction with things as they are. The second is rejection of things as they might be. “Good enough” becomes today’s watchword and tomorrow’s standard. Complacency makes people fear the unknown, mistrust the untried, and abhor the new. Like water, complacent people follow the easiest course — downhill. They draw false strength from looking back.” Bits & Pieces, May 28, 1992, p. 15.
4. Strengthen Your Character.
When faced with leading an organization character is a central quality that can easily be sacrificed on the altar of success. I love this quote. “Character is much better kept than recovered.” Thomas Paine. When leading do so with a strong sense of right and wrong. The character is forged on the rocks of adversity. Paul has two insight verses on that in Romans.
“God’s eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made. That’s why those people don’t have any excuse.” Romans 1:20
3 But that’s not all! We gladly suffer, because we know that suffering helps us to endure. 4 And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope 5 that will never disappoint us. All of this happens because God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love. Romans 5:3-5
5. Increase Your Commitment.
The final “C” is commitment. How willing are you to give your all to the ministry? That is a question that only you can answer. You can do an adequate job without ever being wholly committed to the Great Commission. But imagine if this illustration was placed before you.
Forget about the concept of a town hall meeting to decide public policy. How about this instead? In Ancient Greece, to prevent idiotic statesmen from passing idiotic laws upon the people, lawmakers–legend has it–were asked to introduce all new laws while standing on a platform with a rope around their neck. If the law passed, the rope was removed. If it failed, the platform was removed. Quality Press, August 1992.
37 If you love your father or mother or even your sons and daughters more than me, you are not fit to be my disciples. 38 And unless you are willing to take up your cross and come with me, you are not fit to be my disciples. 39 If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it. – Matthew 10:37-39
Leadership is not an easy thing, but the rewards in God’s kingdom are well worth the risk.
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