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We Need Leaders in our Churches who…

This may be overstating it a bit but I think we are in a current leadership crises in the church. There are a lot of theories out on blogs and in books trying to pinpoint the membership decline in many of our churches. The term “Millennial” is thrown out there as both the problem and solution with the church. I have read scores of blog posts all saying something to the affect of, “5 Ways your church can reach the Millennial generation.”

Stop it.

I think the problem is more simplistic than some of these folks seem to think. I will throw my two cents in to where I think the problem is at. Read the statement below slowly and deliberately…

The problem with the decline in our churches is directly correlated to her leaders. Click To Tweet

We don’t have a church attendance problem; we have a leadership problem.

I am reading a book about leadership written by two former Navy Seals who used their training and battle experience to help companies and organizations lead better. One of the quotes below highlights my thesis that we have a leadership issue:

On any team, in any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win. (Emphasis Mine)

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy SEALs Lead and Win (p. 30). 

Let the ramifications of that quote sink in a little before you read. Look at every church that has closed its doors and I guarantee you that it has been a leadership issue. From failing to adjust to the “new folks in the neighborhood” to trying to stick with a 1950s church model, our churches will rise and fall based on the leaders she has in place.

Another quote that resonated with me:

“…when it comes to standards, as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate. When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable— if there are no consequences— that poor performance becomes the new standard.”

Ibid., p. 54.

I think the church has tolerated, for too long now, substandard performance in her leaders.

Our acquiescence to contentment has done nothing but give the church a mediocre influence. Click To Tweet

That’s all we are is a nice church doing safe things to make people smile. That’s not the church I read about in the New Testament. Straddling the fence of niceness is not how I interpret the actions of the apostles and early church leaders.

So here is what we need from leaders.

We need leaders in our churches who…

  • Care more about the gospel than they do church politics.
  • Believe the message of Jesus and share that belief with others.
  • Will call out the power hungry noise-makers in church and handle them with grace and truth.
  • Will empower others to lead like Jesus.
  • Are not afraid to make mistakes for the sake of the kingdom.
  • Are willing to try NEW things to better posture the church in the community.
  • Are eager to grow the church theologically even if that means laying aside antiquated traditions.
  • Are not scared of the naysayers.
  • Will not tolerate vast laxity.
  • Will hold her members accountable.
  • Eschew passive-aggressiveness.
  • Will ask the difficult questions.
  • Will practice humility.
  • Will serve (not on the Lord’s Table only).
  • Are theologically and theopractically entrenched.

This is a brief list. I think you get the pulse of what I am trying to voice here. What are some things you would add?

5 Ways to Make 2016 Your Worst Year Yet!!!

It’s New Year’s time folks and that means it is the season to reflect on what you did this past year and make changes for the upcoming year. Do you plan on losing weight? Do you plan on quitting an unhealthy habit? What ever your resolutions may be I want you to understand something: according to Michael Hyatt only 8% of us are successful with our resolutions. That stinks. In other words, if we all were taking a test then 92% of us would fail that test. I don’t know about you but I would rather bat .900 than .08.

Instead of focusing on goals or resolutions I want to instead turn your attention to the year in general. Focusing on the year itself might actually help you with your individual goals. When a person comes to renovate your house he or she is probably going to start with a basic question like, “What do you want to accomplish with this renovation?” He or she is not asking if you want travertine or marble counter-tops to start with. They want to see the forest first then look at the individual trees.

Below are some general thoughts when I think about looking at your 2016 as a forest. It is the first of two posts where I try to get you to think “big picture” when it comes to 2016. You only have a couple of days to think about it so first I want you to think of 2016 as the worst year possible. What would it look like if 2016 were your worst year? See if you agree with me on these.

2016 will be my worst year ever if…

I continue to harbor resentment and begrudge people.

Nobody likes a bitter apple and the same goes with a person who is angry and won’t let go. We all have lists of people who have wronged us leaving wounds that hurt. Many of us have not allowed those wounds to heal into scars and so we live our lives bitter and cold. Maya Angelou once said: Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” Want to make your year the worst? Stay bitter and don’t get better.

 

I make it all about myself.

Have you noticed that many of our resolutions tend to be about myself than others? Many want to lose weight so they can have a killer body and look good in a particular outfit. Many want to make more money so they can have bigger and better toys. Losing weight and making money are both good but when we make it about ourselves we lose the focus of helping others. I am losing weight this year so that I can be healthier for my wife and kids. Want to ruin your year? Be selfish.

I don’t embrace challenges.

My brother-in-law is helping us repair some flooring in our kitchen. We have encountered some challenges that we didn’t foresee. He told me, “Anytime you do renovation it’s like this man. It’s never easy.” We could give up, turn inward and mope about the challenges or we can embrace them and learn from them. If nobody embraced challenges then we would not have discovered electricity, walked on the moon or dunked on Patrick Ewing. I have learned that whenever there is a challenge presented, there is a lesson I need to learn.

I don’t seek help from a mentor.

This may sound like the weirdest thing you ever heard but it is so important to learn from people who are far more experienced and successful than you are. Plutarch said, The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” The problem is that too many of us got the IHAVEGOTITFIGUREDOUTATITIS. It is a dreadful disease and usually leads to little or no growth. Nicole Fallon writes a good piece called, “5 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Mentor” that is well worth your time. Of course, if you have it all figured out then have the worst year ever and never learn. But you already knew that right?

I insist on being a dirt bag.

When you are pursuing your dreams, they will call you CRAZY because they are LAZY. They never know you are a HERO who just jumped away from step ZERO. Stay away from negative people; they will only pollute you” (Israelmore Ayivor). I am tired of negativity. It is like an infectious parasite that infiltrates every fabric of our being. Some people are just, as my father-in-law so eloquently says, dirt bags. These people have huge issues with their self-esteem so they find it important to bring everyone else down to their level. It’s like someone who is overweight and does not want you to diet because they do not want to diet either. Confronting their pain is far more of a task than to manipulate the pleasure of others. Want to make your year (and everyone else) the worst? Be a dirt bag.

In my next post I plan on building off of this post to discuss how you can make 2016 your BEST year.

What would you add to this list?

Adding this guy to your organization is a game-changer!

Once in a while there comes a person who joins your team that is an absolute game-changer. Growing up in the Chestnut Creek subdivision in Marietta, Georgia we had an excellent tennis team. We competed against other neighborhoods in the area and then once a year we went to Atlanta to compete in the city championship. We never could win the championship but one year a guy named Joe Prado moved into the area. He was an athletic phenom and was amazing at any sport he tried from swimming to soccer and even tennis. When Joe got on our team we went from merely competing to absolutely dominating. We won the A.L.T.A. championship for our division.

I tell you this because there is a game-changer that will instantly change the dynamic of your team. He is seldom utilized and, as far as I know, under-appreciated in most churches and businesses. Many institutions would not have gone under if they had invited this guy on their team. On the flip side, the churches and businesses that are booming long ago hired him and since then their organization has grown leaps and bounds.

His name?

Mr. It’s-not-about-me.

Seriously.

I want you to say these words:

It’s

Not

About

Me

Think of all the struggles in your organization that never found closure and I bet I can link them all to a similar root cause: selfishness. Using the analogy above we could say that it was one who did not want to sacrifice for the team. Looking back in my years of ministry I see some times where I just could not wrap my brain around sacrificing for someone else. I wanted it to be about me.

Robert Greenleaf, author of the book The Servant as Leader, has some amazing points about what I am trying to say:

The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.

The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?(Source)

Jesus did this long before Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leader”. When the mother of James and John wanted them to sit where Jesus was he lectured her and the others on the It’s-not-about-me component:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:25-28).

How many churches have split because they forgot about this component?

How many ministers have burned out because they neglected this mindset?

How many businesses remained stagnate because this way of life was not instilled in its psyche?

So here are five quick ways to invite this into your organization…

  1. Do a quick self-assessment to see if your organization is selfish. (The guys at Modern Servant Leader have come up with one here.)
  2. Look for ways to help others grow.
  3. Sit down as a team and brainstorm ways to make your team more “other” focused.
  4. Have honest conversations with those on your team that do not buy-in to this concept.
  5. Come up with a game plan as to how you might accomplish becoming more of a servant type institution.