How Do You Resolve the Tension of Enthusiasm vs. Oppression in Your Staff Position?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many naturally wired leaders and driven types rise to the helm of our churches. Each one is following the call of God in their lives and comes with a mixed bag of healthy leadership traits and “type-A” hang-ups.

That leaves you feeling the tension. Some days you are excited to be a part of something that is moving forward. Other days you may feel like you are working for a dictator who is building his own kingdom.

So what do you do when the primary unstated value of your ministry is “No growth, no glory!” How do you resolve the tension of enthusiasm vs. oppression?  You will probably never resolve it completely, but here are a few tips to help you keep sane and develop your own strengths as you lead.

#1: Cultivate your own progress orientation.  Believe it or not, you have a lot to learn from the healthy side of pr0active leadership. Remember, Jesus ran a lean-mean tight ship as the twelve-turned-seventy-two forged ahead city to city with urgency and focus. Where is God teaching you to cultivate a godly sense of urgency? Are you developing the willingness to take more initiative? How can you practice a bias for action even more?

#2: Tie all “push-back,” back to progress. It’s important to move past hasty disagreement or quick pushback. Don’t disagree out of emotion. It may be that you have better ideas. You may have key insights for sustainability and integrated efforts. You probably see the need a better system or process to define before launching the next ministry initiative.  The key is this: When you share you ideas or when you have to push-back, make sure you “connect the dots” back to progress. Don’t share your idea until you can demonstrate why it makes growth eventually better, stronger or faster. Many times I use the phrase “slow down to speed up” or “squat before you leap” to help a leader appreciate a season of “no new visible progress” in order to prepare for the next visible growth run.

#3 Play for pie even if your slice suffers. You must think big-picture as you manage your part of the organization. I was in a conversation yesterday with a leader who was struggling with a talented player who only sees his silo in the ministry. Nothing is more irritating for a leader who must steward progress for the whole organization. You will be surprised how this kind of thinking will come back to bless you. You attitude will not go unnoticed. Leaders desperately need “slice managers” who care about the pie.

#4 Create a scorecard that shows different forms of progress. There is probably something that you are passionate about that you lead pastor can’t real feel or see. The problem is not his passion. The problem is that you haven’t helped him see the progress of what you are excited about. What kind of scorecard or goal setting can you lead-up with? For example, a student pastor may take the time to show percentage growth in student camps over the last three years. Or if the student ministry is not numerically growing, you might show the growing percentage of students who are engaged in daily bible intake over the last 2 years.

#5 Let the weakness of others develop your convictions. There is no wasted experience in God’s economy, even in a culture that is unhealthy in it’s drivenness. The bottom line is that you will be in charge some day and that day is coming sooner that you think. You might not be the lead pastor, but you will have more responsibility and more people to care for. Now is the time to let those convictions stir. Don’t be afraid to name them as your personal values or your future team guidelines. In the end, having clearly stated values is the governor on how fast you pursue your vision.

What are you not willing to compromise in the character of the organization for the sake of progress?

Answering that question is the essence of  values-driven leadership.

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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— Abel Singbeh
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
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