Living as a Fully Healthy Team

Is your staff team a healthy team?

How do you know?

It’s easier to know when a team is not healthy, especially if you look at the extremes.

The obvious symptoms are things like:

  • Gossip
  • Negativity
  • Silos
  • Complaining
  • Conflict
  • Unproductive

The outcome is that the team and organization do not function as they should.

But it’s not always that obvious because most teams are not in the red zone of extremes. There may be some isolated problems but not pervasive conditions.

Many teams are in fact healthy, but experiencing a temporary setback.

A good comparison is the human body. A healthy body will function as it should. All organs and systems are working together as designed.

However, a healthy team doesn’t mean a perfect team.

Your body can have a bad cold, flu, or bacterial infection and still be perfectly healthy. You can have a cut or a pulled muscle and still be in good health. The condition temporarily affects how you function, but you are still healthy.

Your healthy body goes to work to restore the condition.

If you ignore the health condition, it can get worse. If multiple issues arise, what was a simple cold or flu can become a complicated health risk, and your body may function poorly.

Your staff team is very similar. A healthy staff can handle difficulties, recognize problems and solve them. It has built-in systems to restore the condition back to health.

It’s possible to get overloaded if too many things happen all in the same season, but you can still regain maximum health, (functionality), it just takes longer.

Symptoms of health look like this:

  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Alignment
  • Joy
  • Commitment
  • Results

What is the state of your team’s health? Excellent? Good? Average? Poor?

Whatever the condition, this process will help you gain full health as a team.

5 Steps to Restore Health:

1) Don’t ignore the current condition.

If you have high blood pressure, it’s not smart to ignore it. Right? The same is true for your staff.

Get honest about whatever condition might be present in your staff team. From performance to attitude, always deal with reality. If a ministry isn’t working, expectations are unclear, trust is low, etc., get it on the table.

Don’t gossip in the hallways. Do what you can personally, and if you can’t solve it alone, get it to the table that can make a difference.

2) Play hurt.

It’s nearly impossible to run consistently for more than thirty years and not have some minor injuries, but I just keep going.

More than twenty years ago, I was inspired by a friend in San Diego who had severe shin splints but kept running anyway. Jan would ice them down and keep going. It was painful, but she pressed on. I asked her why and she said, “Until I simply can’t run, quitting is not an option.” I’ve never quit since.

Sometimes your team is hurting. Keep leading. It’s not a good practice to shut things down and focus so entirely inward that you can’t keep building. You build new leadership muscle when you press through.

Make another phone call, invite another guest, pray again tomorrow, but keep going.

3) Shift leadership energy and stick together.

A friend of mine asked for advice about a situation on his staff that really rattled the whole team.

One of their staff fell into significant ethical and moral misconduct. The repercussions shook up the team and part of the congregation.

It caused doubt, mistrust, some people took sides, and a few left the church. The staff was definitely off their game and results began to wane.

I’ve been around too many churches that shoot their wounded, and leave others to pick up the pieces themselves. That never helps.

Healthy teams stick together. They do make the necessary tough decisions, but with as much grace as possible. Other leaders on the team will need to shift some of their time to step in and help with the ministry that is now suffering.

In this story the staff member had to be released from the team, in other situations, restoration is possible.

In all cases, talk openly with the staff. Treat them like adults; they know what’s going on. Talk about it and process it appropriately. Stick together.

4) Establish benchmarks.

What does health look like for you on your team? Make that clear and talk about it openly.

You might include some of the things I mentioned like trust, honesty, alignment, joy, and commitment.

It’s important to be clear on vision, direction, expectations, and results.

What does full functionality look like and what outcomes do you desire? Think that through, write it down, and make it clear.

At 12Stone, we use a process we call MAPs. (Ministry Action Plans.) They contain measurable goals and elements of leadership development. The MAPs lead to an annual coaching conversation where open and honest conversations take place. This is a huge contribution to the health of a team.

5) Get some help.

There will be some things you and your staff can’t handle without some outside help.

I had some trouble with my left foot that required minor surgery not too long ago. It was not going to eventually heal merely with the use of homeopathic remedies and by continuing to “run through the pain.” I needed some help. I needed a good doctor!

You may need an outside consultant or leadership coach to come in with “fresh eyes,” who can help you gain a better perspective. Perhaps a pastor from a larger church can help.

The point is, sometimes the continued health of your staff needs a specialist who can help you focus on the issue and restoration to full health.

I have flown hundreds of miles just to get a couple of hours with a leader who could help me work through a problem that was bigger than my experience. That advice was transformative.

When you or your team needs some assistance, do what it takes to get the best help you can.

> Read more from Dan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Unlocking the Five Motivations for Work in Your Ministry Leadership

We all have motivations that get us out of bed in the morning. And, we all have a wide array of forces that impact our sense of identity as it relates to work.

I have found it helpful to identify these and to explore their interrelationship. In doing so there are multiple benefits to fortifying your life as a ministry leader. In fact, great leaders deeply understand these benefits  in their own life. In addition, these motivations and the benefits of understanding them, become very helpful in stewarding the gifts and talents of others. What are the benefits of exploring the five motivations? They include:

  • Building self-awareness
  • Bringing a higher perspective to everyday work 
  • Enhancing a God-focused life
  • Aiding in value-based, directional career decision-making 
  • Finding health and balance in your job. 

Explore these  five motivations for your work. While some of these categories may be defined from a negative point of view, (Careerism is selfish), I consider them from positive perspective.

#1 Work as Job: “I get paid in order to live.”

All of us, with few exceptions, start here. You get a job to put bread on the table and to pay the rent. It’s a baseline and noble motivation- survival.

#2 Work as Career: “I advance my life.” 

In addition to getting paid, its nice to know you will get paid more in the future. Progress is a life impulse biologically and emotionally. When you ad a little testosterone to the equation, watch out.  The impetus to win and to have more influence and to “better your position” becomes a significant, if not dominating motive for most people. While Jesus never rebukes the motivation for progress, he does rebuke the selfish and worldly interpretation of what progress looks like (lording over people verses serving them).

#3 Work as Fulfillment: “I enjoy using my life’s talents and abilities.” 

When people cultivate an awareness and practice of their gifts, new things begin to emerge in the motivational dynamic. “Work as job” and “work as career” motivations begin to shift. For example, I might be willing to trade financial benefit or title of influence for the euphoria of a tightly aligned role match with my passion or talents.

#4 Work as Calling: “God created my life for a unique purpose.” 

The definition of calling may have some nuances depending on your faith background. Here, I mean the term to reflect a personal relationship with God that brings the revelation of a life agenda or purpose or destiny.  It’s the movement from occupation to vocation. This is more specific than a generic, “I follow Jesus” or “God has a wonderful plan for your life.”  And this specificity is very real and concrete to those who discern it or find it or receive it. Luke wrote of Paul in Acts 13:36, “For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep…”

#5 Work as Convergence: “I enjoy life for God’s glory.” 

I have struggled with the idea of calling being the ultimate “right” motivation. In some ways, that is the obviously answer. In other ways,  I believe in the nobility of every level and the opportunity to engage in as many levels as possible. “Work as convergence” is the answer. Even though one may be clear on calling, isn’t it still natural to desire a sense of fulfillment and advancement? I think so. As the Westminster Confession reminds us, glorifying God isn’t separable from enjoying him. On another practical level, convergence brings the overlap of “work as job” and “work as calling.” Many feel like they have to work a “job” in order to serve God (calling) in some other area of life. In this case there is an opportunity to explore convergence.

What’s your motivation for work?

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Critical Reasons for Developing the “Middle” of Your Teams

Look at leadership development and you see the focus of most conferences and materials is on leaders at the top, or leaders on the front line. This is great – I love to work with senior-level teams and leaders, and have spent decades training volunteer group and team leaders for churches and businesses.

But many groups – especially Non-profits – really need to develop the middle, and the opportunities are endless!

So what about development for the MIDDLE? People have skills and experience beyond entry-level leadership and yet do not desire, are not ready for, or not gifted for – top-level posts. Where are the development strategies for these emerging leaders?

My “Leaders at Every Level” process is designed to develop and support leaders at every level of your church, non-profit or small business.

Here is why it is so important to DEVELOP THE MIDDLE layer of your organization:

1)     This is the pool from which you will draw many of your inner circle leaders in the next 4-5 years.

2)      An investment here has a huge trickle-down effect, as these leaders become better at passing along the DNA of your organization.

3)      You can see whether these leaders can reproduce the investment you have made in them. Can they, and will they, shape the people below them the way you are investing in them?

4)     It is a testing ground for greater responsibility. You can takes risks here and let leaders fail without causing too much pain in them or the organization. Yet they have time to learn and recover from failure before advancement to higher levels.

5)     Turnover drops dramatically and is directly proportional to the investment you make in people. After a few years people wonder if they are stuck, so they either level off (and just hang on to a job) or move on to better opportunities for growth. If you want turnover, ignore the middle. Here is some great info from The Wharton School that validates this point in business…but I think it is even MORE essential for churches and Non-profits.

6)     When top leaders move on or die or retire, there is no “crisis” because you have a built-in succession plan!

 

So what is your strategy? Share your ideas for development in the middle and I will forward them along. This is a great challenge!

Read more from Bill here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Donahue

Bill’s vision is: “Resourcing life-changing leaders for world-changing influence.” Leaders and their teams need a clear personal vision and a transformational team strategy. This requires work in 3 key areas: Maximize Leadership Capacity, Sharpen Mission Clarity & Build Transformational Community. Bill has leadership experience in both the for-profit and non-profit arena. After working for P&G in New York and PNC Corp. in Philadelphia, Bill was Director of Leader Development & Group Life for the Willow Creek Church & Association where he created leadership strategies and events for over 10,000 leaders on 6 continents in over 30 countries.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Snuffing Burnout: Rick Warren’s Advice on How to Discover a Healthy Working Rhythm and Energize Your Team

The quickest way to destroy a team is to burn them out. And you don’t have to look around the field of ministry very long to realize that the ministry is filled with burned out leaders. But it’s possible to find a healthy working rhythm and ultimately increase the effective energy with which your leaders serve without causing them to burnout.

Every minute of every day we are using up energy, and every person has a limited amount of energy. If we keep the pace high all the time, we use up the energy people have to give like the way a car with its lights left on will wind up with a dead battery.

This is especially true in times when your ministry is growing. Growth brings change, change brings problems, and problems consume a lot of emotional, physical, and spiritual energy from your leaders.

Here are seven ways to discover a good working rhythm and raise the energy level of your team.

1. Don’t expect every leader to work at the same energy level all the time.

We are all unique, and every leader serving in your ministry is wired differently. Some need more quiet and rest than others. Some work better in organized chaos while some need no chaos at all. At Saddleback, we try to hire workaholics and then force them to calm down and find a rhythm.

2. Be sensitive to external drains on energy and compensate appropriately.

Sometimes leaders have big issues and seasons of transition in their personal lives that affect the amount of energy they’re able to pour out. From health crises to marital crises to pregnancy and new babies, leaders often need time to concentrate on specific family issues.

3. Plan your year in energy cycles.

At Saddleback, we typically move through two major growth campaigns in a year. In the spring and in the fall, we set aside around eight weeks per year when we really focus on adding more small groups and really pushing people to invite their unchurched friends to some big days. Easter, Mother’s Day, and Christmas are all big days for us, as well as special events that surround some of the global issues we’re addressing.

Between campaigns and holidays, we regroup. Most years, we close our offices between Christmas and New Year. Newspring Church and Northpoint Church usually cancel their post-Christmas Sunday services to give their thousands of volunteers a breather. It’s okay that some weekends are intentionally designed to consume less energy than others.

4. Allow staff members to have flexible schedules.

We don’t watch the clock. We watch results. When staff members travel for church-related events, we want them to take a day of rest afterward. When they have evening meetings, we want them to come in later the next day. My mentor, Peter Drucker, said, “Empasize results, not activity.” Some of our Pastors work four or more services per weekend, so we want them to have a day off during the week.

5. Work smarter, not harder.

Ecclesiastes 10:10 says, “If the ax is dull, and one does not sharpen its edge, then one must exert more strength; however, the advantage of wisdom is that it brings success.” (HCSB) There are tools, techniques, and new technologies that streamline the way we do ministry. Use them. And learn from mistakes and failures to avoid wasting energy on what doesn’t work.

6. Focus on the long haul.

James Collins wrote a famous leadership book called Built to Last. Of the 12 values he articulated he found in companies that survived through three generations, ten are found in Saddleback’s original vision statement which we have had since our first year of ministry. Your church can be a mushroom, which springs up overnight, or it can be an oak tree that grows larger and stronger over time with deep roots.

7. Make the work fun!

People rarely succeed at jobs they don’t enjoy, which explains the success of companies like Google, known for their fun and creative atmospheres. The most successful people get paid to do what they like to do anyway! Saddleback Church receives thousands of phone calls every day and hundreds of thousands of emails every year, and we try to give everyone an appropriate response if at all possible. So, we keep things light.

Over the years, we’ve done Taco Tuesdays as a staff. We’ve hiked around our property during a staff meeting. Once we closed the office and we all went surfing even though none of us knew how. We’ve purposely dressed tacky on the same day. We often send the staff home after a staff meeting just for the fun of it, and I’ve been known to start a food fight or two over the years.

The kingdom of God is going to last, and your church needs to be built to last, which requires a healthy rhythm of hard work, proper rest, and a good energy consumption pattern for all the leaders involved.

This is a busy time of the year for your church; ask yourself how you can lead your team to find rest and cultivate joy so that you can head into this year of ministry stronger than ever.

Read more from Rick here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Helpful Tools for Honest Self-Assessment

You can’t see what you can’t see. I drive a Toyota Avalon and it’s a nice car. It has lots of “bells and whistles,” plenty of power, and the new body design is sharp. But no matter how nice any car might be, it has a blind spot. The blind spot is that small area down the driver’s side looking back, that you just can’t see anything in it. That blind spot can be ever so costly if you change lanes and don’t see the car next to you!

We all have blind spots about ourselves. That’s one of the things that makes you the most difficult person for you to assess. The saying is true. You just can’t see what you can’t see. It sounds simple, but the complexity comes from the fact that you are truly blind to that “elusive thing,” and unless you have some help, that blind spot can cause you great difficulty as a leader.

When you are driving, the way you mitigate your blind spot is a quick turn of your head to the left and back, plus rightly using your mirrors. That can literally save your life. So how do you find your blind spots as a leader? And what should you look for?

Start here to find your blind spots: 

Self-awareness

When I was starting out as a pastor I noticed that many of the successful pastors of large churches, who were conference speakers, seemed to be choleric and sanguine in temperament. So I thought, that’s what I want to be! For a long time I tried to be someone other than who I am. “Success” eluded me. When I became more self-aware and discovered that I’m choleric and melancholy, and gave myself permission to be me, God’s favor on me as a leader seemed to become immediately evident. It was then that I began to blossom as a leader!

• Honest Friends

Friends are a powerful force and priceless gift in your life. In fact, your friends shape who you are so choose your friends wisely. The friends who love and care about you the most will tell you the truth, even if it’s tough to hear. When my friends shoot straight with me I’m very grateful. When they help me see my blind spots, the things about me that I can’t see, it helps me become a better person!

• Credible assessment tools 

Self-assessment tools are always fun to take. Everyone likes to “read the press” about themselves. The key is to find good tools. There are several good ones, but a couple of my favorites have been the Myers/Briggs and StrengthsFinder. The John Maxwell Company has produced a new assessment tool. I checked it out and it’s great! It’s based on John’s book, The Five Levels of Leadership. This assessment allows you to invite your boss, your peers, and your direct reports to anonymously assess your leadership. All too often leaders simply evaluate themselves and move on.

However, according to The Five Levels of Leadership “one of us is not as smart as all of us,” and therefore, inviting others to assist you in evaluating your leadership is one of the smartest moves you can make. Check out the assessment HERE.

What to look for:

How can you see what you can’t see? I mentioned three things in general. Again, they are a growing sense of self-awareness, friends who will tell you the truth and good assessment tools. It also helps if you can have an idea of the things (you can’t see) that can hurt you and the things that can help you, so you can begin to look for them.

Things that can hurt you:

1. Habits

I recently coached a young leader about the importance of looking people in the eyes when talking to them. He honestly had no idea that he often looked at the floor and up toward the ceiling. I used to constantly fidget with my glasses while teaching until someone let me know. These are relatively innocent examples, but they matter, and catching the simple things will help you practice watching for more significant habits that can hurt your leadership.

2. Attitudes

There is so much negative in current culture, from crime to politics, and a lot of people consider those two subjects as one topic. Our country has serious problems and we need leaders who can solve the problems, but complaining and being negative won’t change anything. It won’t change anything in your church either. Even if what you are saying is true. Move toward action that brings solutions! Keep your attitude positive.

3. Perceptions

The Bible warns us about false teachers, being swayed by false doctrines and seeing now “but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.” As leaders we all struggle to see things clearly. People have passionate opinions and often package them in spiritual wrappers. You and I may be tempted to do the same. It’s important for all of us to discern clearly and seek wisdom so we have the truest and clearest perception of reality possible.

4. Relationships

Relationships can obviously be helpful as well as hurtful. I trust that like me, most of your relationships are positive and healthy. It’s the one you didn’t see coming that can take you out. I’ve heard three stories in the last ninety days about church boards having secret meetings to get rid of the pastor. Not only did the pastors have no idea, but each pastor thought everything was great! I’m not suggesting that you become a paranoid leader, but that you pay attention to your friends and even closer attention to the leaders you aren’t sure about.

Things that can help you:

1. Skills

Your personality, education, and general family background play a big role in who you are as a leader. But at some point, your leadership skills take a front seat as the determiner of how effective your leadership can become. That is good news! By determining what you are good at and where you need to improve, you can radically strengthen your leadership. The key is to be very specific and intentional about what skill you want to develop. A generic approach won’t help you much. What one skill, right now, do you need to work on?

2. New friends

Friendships are complicated for leaders. The tension is that you must always be making new friends and simultaneously caring for the friends you have. Eventually, most leaders feel they have run out of time. Keeping up with all these relationships is a skill. Don’t give up; you can learn to give your full heart in less time. You can care deeply and don’t always need to spend two hours over coffee. You can make a genuine connection in much less time. It goes against the grain, but it is sometimes necessary. Giving up and not establishing new relationships will hurt your leadership. Establishing new relationships will help your leadership!

3. Opportunities

At times this has been a weakness of mine. I’m so focused in what I’m doing that I can miss great opportunities right in front of me, opportunities that are truly helpful to the church and to me personally. I need to regularly “lift my head up” and look around, sniff the wind, know which way it’s blowing and see what God is up to! How about you? Are you catching the great opportunities that are before you?

4. Faith

All good leaders have great faith. You may experience a season where your faith is shaken, that’s normal. But in general, it is important that your faith is strong. This is one of the greatest assets to a spiritual leader. If you believe God for big things, if you pray for big things and even trust God for miracles, you are much more likely to experience what God wants to do for you. God is not a puppet to be manipulated, but He is a good, kind and loving Father. Your church is His church! God cares what happens in your ministry! How’s your faith? What do you believe?

My intent in this article is to be helpful in the process of your self-assessment. The better you do this, the greater your potential for growth

This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland’s free monthly e-newsletter, “The Pastor’s Coach,” available at www.INJOY.com.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Josh — 05/02/17 4:23 am

Thanks for this. This will help our team :)

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Pastor Geoff Surratt on 4 Lessons of Healthy Ministry

My heart broke recently as I watched pastor Ron Carpenter pour out his heart in his weekend message to his congregation. It was a gut wrenching experience as he shared with his church the devastating pain his family has endured over the past ten years, and the incredibly difficult future they now face. I have never met Ron, but my heart and prayers go out to him. I can’t imagine the anguish of sharing the most awful parts of your private life with 100s of friends and 1000s of strangers. This is a time when we put aside theological differences and preconceptions and pray for a man and a family wrecked by the effects of evil.

Seeing Ron expose his heart and soul to his congregation reminds me of several hard-earned lessons from a lifetime of ministry. These lessons are not about Ron Carpenter or Redemption World Outreach Center, I don’t know anything about Ron, his leadership or the structure of his church; these are the lessons of 31 years of vocational ministry. Lessons learned growing up a third generation pastor’s kid, watching 30 members of my extended family in active ministry, and interacting with hundreds of pastors and leaders across the country. I’ve organized these lessons into four “Y”s of healthy ministry.

1. Integrity: I am real

Integrity: being complete or undivided.

While all pastors stress the importance of integrity, there is a temptation in ministry to create an onstage image different from who they really are. Very few  set out to be two different people, it just happens. This is an incredibly dangerous road to go down.

I’ve seen a couple of iterations of this tendency to project an idealized leader for public consumption. In one version the leader creates a more polished image of himself. He is incredibly happy, has a well-adjusted family, and lives a super desirable lifestyle. He faces challenges and temptations, but he always overcomes in the end. The implied message is that if his followers will emulate his faith they too can live a charmed life. Social media has made this temptation into an art. The leader tweets about his “smokin’ hot wife”, his incredible kids and the constant spiritual breakthroughs he achieves. He creates a life everyone wishes they had. In reality its a life he wishes he had as well.

In the second version the leader creates a more raw version of himself. He talks about a crisis of faith he never really had. He embellishes college stories to better match those of his congregation. He exaggerates family challenges to sound more like the real life stuff his followers deal with every day. This version of the leader requires that he hide a relatively innocent youth as well as the luxuries ministry success has afforded him. He must feign humility even when he doesn’t feel humble. The message to the church is, “You can follow me because I’m just like you.”

Authentic ministry requires one version of you. You may be a little more refined in public, hopefully you don’t scratch and spit as much, but people who know you should be able to say you’re the same guy on stage as you are at the ballgame. The real you will eventually come out, so you might as well be you from the beginning.

2. Transparency: I am human

Transparency: Able to be seen through

Integrity says what you see is what you get while transparency says what you see is a normal human being. Transparent, human leaders get tired, discouraged and frustrated. They’re not always sure where to go or what to do next. They don’t have a fairy tale marriages and their kids sometimes (all the time) exasperate them. They worry about their finances, and their health and how they’re going to care for their parents when the time comes. They have been called into a position of public ministry, but they’re just an ordinary humans.

The image of a leader with the perfect hair, the perfect spouse and the perfect children isn’t realistic, sustainable or biblical. Elijah got tired, Peter got hungry, Paul got ticked off at his best friend. There isn’t a single example in the Bible of a leader who didn’t struggle with his humanity. Being transparent about our humanity means admitting we sometimes struggle in our marriage, feel clueless as parents and wrestle balancing our faith with our doubt. Transparency says the human condition is universal; I’m no exception.

3. Vulnerability: I am broken

Vulnerable: Capable of being wounded our hurt

We are creating a version of Christianity that says the true believer, if they follow the right plan or practice the right disciplines, will inch closer and closer to spiritual perfection. The goal is to be a mature believer who almost never sins, and if he does it just little things like forgetting to leave a tip or sighing out loud in line at Wal-Mart. Leading the parade is the pastor who proclaims he has overcome the sin he used to struggle with, and is now nearing heavenly nirvana. He might have been saved by grace, but he has worked his way to true holiness. Won’t you follow in his footsteps?

This in spite of all the biblical evidence to the contrary. David seduces Bathsheba and murders Uriah long after writing the 23rd Psalm. Peter succumbs to hypocrisy, refusing to eat with Gentiles, years after leading Cornelius to faith. Paul, the greatest evangelist the world has seen,  writes in Romans 7

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. 

The healthy leader says with integrity that there is only one version of me, with transparency that I am only human and with vulnerability that I have broken parts in my life. I am growing spiritually, but like  you, I struggle with sin every day.

4. Accountability: I am under authority

Accountable: Responsible, answerable

I have not seen a leader fail or crumble who has a small circle of friends to whom he is accountable. Friends who know his family, his background, his sins and his failures. Friends who call him out on his stuff and have permission to remove him from his position of leadership if necessary. This only works if the leader is honest with his circle. If he isn’s real, transparent and vulnerable with this group they are of little value. If, however, this is a group of peers he trusts with his life they will likely catch him before his world comes crashing down.

A danger here is the illusion of accountability. A pastor will point to a board of overseers, deacons or elders; or he might say denominational oversight provides this safeguard. Normally, however, the accountability at this level is surface. The pastor rarely shares his intimate challenges and sins with an appointed board. They have the power to discipline or remove, but they don’t live in the daily details. Board accountability is like floodgates on a dam; it is the last line of defense. True accountability happens in a smaller circle at a deeper level.

Living it out

A final note on living out the Four “Y”s; everything is not appropriate to share at every level. It is as unhealthy to dump your garbage on your neighbor’s lawn as it is to hide it in your basement. While a healthy leader has integrity, transparency, vulnerability and accountability at every level, he also understands what should be revealed at every level of leadership. Below is a pyramid that illustrates this concept:

pyramid

The leader’s small circle of friends have open access to his life. Nothing is off limits. They also help him determine what is appropriate to share at the other levels. The overseers have access to the general outline, but not necessarily the details. The staff has a clear picture of the leader’s life without information that could hurt or embarrass others. (i.e. the staff leadership team would know the pastor is struggling at home, but doesn’t need to know the specific challenge). The congregation knows enough to understand the overall picture of the pastor’s life. If a pastor has been real with the congregation and his son is arrested for drugs the attenders won’t be shocked. They know the pastor has been struggling with a family issue, they just didn’t know which family member or the specific issue.

This post is not aimed at any pastor nor is it not a blueprint for growing a church. You might be able to lead a church by projecting an image that isn’t true to you or the life you live. You might convince people to follow an illusion. I’m sure there are successful (and unsuccessful) pastors who are able to make this work. But the illusion will crumble and the facade will fail and you will be left naked and ashamed.

This is a guide for healthy ministry that reminds people that your role, your only role, is to point followers to Jesus.

Read more from Geoff here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Geoff Surratt

Geoff Surratt

Geoff lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife Sherry (CEO of MOPS International). Geoff and Sherry have two awesome kids (Mike and Brittainy), a wonderful daughter-in-law (Hilary) and the most beautiful granddaughter on earth (Maggie Claire) Geoff has served on staff at Seacoast Church and Saddleback Church. He is now the Director of Exponential and a freelance Church Catalyst and Encourager.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

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