The Spiritual Leader’s #1 Responsibility!

spiritualleadershipSpiritual leadership is a lot of things. It is first a privilege to be involved in the spiritual growth of the precious people that God has brought into our lives. Spiritual leadership is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly, for people look to us for direction and guidance regarding the most significant questions of our existence as human beings. Spiritual leadership is a mandate to make disciples through baptism, teaching of the word, love, and fellowship (Matt 28:19-20, John 13:35, Acts 2:42). Spiritual leadership is carried out by setting an appropriate example for others to follow (John 13:15, Phil 3:17, 1 Tim 4:12). However, there is one thing that all spiritual leaders must understand.

Spiritual leaders are NOT the source of fruit in a disciple’s life!

Spiritual leaders who think that they are responsible for producing fruit in a disciple’s life find themselves living in a state of constant frustration. I must say I have been guilty of thinking this way in the past. My heart was to do everything in my power to help people change and become fruit-bearing Christians. My heart is still there, but my perspective on who is responsible for the outcome is different. There is a long list of things that spiritual leaders do such as feed, care, tend, protect, teach, preach; however, not among that list is producing fruit in a person’s life. Scripture points out in multiple places that a person is responsible for his or her own fruit (Mt. 3:8, Mt. 7:17, Jn 15:16, Rom 7:4) and that Jesus is their source (John 15).

Our job as spiritual leaders is to point them to Jesus in everything we do!

Young believers become attached to their pastors and spiritual leaders and if not instructed properly will believe that the spiritual leader is their source of life. Many leaders and pastors allow themselves to be that source because it gives them significance or helps them feel important. Our job is not to be the source of fruit in a person’s life. Jesus said plainly in John 15:5 “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.Jesus is the only source of fruit in a person’s life; not the pastor, not the Sunday school teacher, and not the small group leader. Our job is to point them to Jesus. If we allow people to abide in us as their source, we are doing them a disservice by withholding the very Gospel that is found only in Jesus.

All spiritual leaders I know have a deep desire to see growth in those they are trying to disciple. This desire is why we do what we do. I encourage you today to evaluate how you see the outcome of your efforts and where you place responsibility for a person’s growth. I pray the Lord will set you free from taking on a role that belongs to him and his sheep. Keep REACHING FORWARD for as many as the Lord would give you to disciple! There’s no greater calling!

Comments are encouraged!


Leading From the Middle – Part I

I recently had the opportunity to appear on The Pastor’s Life video blog to discuss the various nuances of leading from the second chair. I quickly realized that I had a lot to say about this subject based on my current position in a local church as well as 21 years in the military where everyone is second chair to someone.

There are many dynamics at work for a person leading from the middle. Direction, leadership style, desires, and personality come down from the top leader, while personnel issues, problems, tensions, questions, and various other factors float up toward the top leader. In the middle is a leader who is attempting to lead, manage, motivate, inspire, and stabilize from both directions. How does a leader in this position learn to lead with confidence and joy rather than hesitation and frustration? To answer that question, I have broken my comments into three parts relative to the relationship between the first and second leader.

Think Synergy: two or more things functioning together to produce a result not independently obtainable.

Part I: Shared elements that are necessary

1. Shared Vision – It is vitally important that the first and second leaders share the vision for the church or organization. The leadership provided by these two individuals must point in the same direction. I joined with my Lead Pastor because his heart for ministry and overall vision resonated with me in a profound way. Over the years, we took what was at the core of our hearts and shaped the vision into what it is today. If the person leading from the middle does not own the vision from his or her heart, chances are that person is in the wrong position.

2. Shared Values – It is near impossible for two people to share the exact same values because we all come from different life experiences and backgrounds. However, it is possible and necessary to identify those values that are shared among you. The bottom line here is that values inform and shape a leader’s decision-making. Values steer the ship in the direction that it should go. If leaders are making decisions from different sets of values, then more than likely the ship is being steered in two different directions. We spent months hammering out our shared values and identifying those things that would genuinely guide us as we endeavor to accomplish the vision set before us.

3. Shared Strategy – Strategy is one of those things that is going to morph and evolve until you find what works. At times, different leaders are going to feel more strongly about a particular strategy than others. If there are fundamental differences in ministry philosophy and strategy then forward movement is going to be frustrated. In church world there are various models of discipleship from programs to Sunday school to small groups to a buffet model that includes all of the above. The key point for us in finding what works has been in sharing together in the development of our strategy along the way.

4. Mutual Trust – The most important element that can exist between the first and second leader is trust. Trust is developed over time. If the first and second leaders do not develop a mutual trust for one another, then neither of them will be able to lead effectively. Lack of trust among these two individuals will stall progress and adversely effect the morale of the organization. We have developed a mutual trust because we keep truth in the open. We have given each other permission to communicate openly and share our hearts with one another. The result has been a mutual respect and trust that empowers each of us to lead from our respective seats.

There are other aspects of leadership that must co-exist between the first and second leader; however, I’ve found that these four are essential to setting you on a path of leading with confidence and joy along your day-to-day journey.

Keep REACHING FORWARD to God’s best for  your church or organization. Together we can make a difference and impact our world in positive ways.

Comments welcome.

Leadership Lessons from a 15-year-old!

There are some people who write about leadership principles and there are others who talk about them. There are those who know leadership principles and still others who teach them. But the most impressive leaders are the ones who demonstrate leadership principles through their actions in such a way that others around them are influenced in a positive way.

Today I had the privilege of watching such a leader in action. I was serving at a car wash with our church Youth Group raising money for camp. The day started off kind of slow, but gradually picked up. Suddenly, we had two or three cars being washed; hoses were spraying, soap suds were flying, the kids were laughing, working and having a good time. Then it happened! A young lady by the name of Madison Carson, age 15, got my attention in a way that caused me to momentarily stop and watch!

Madison was not in charge of any group, she was simply washing cars like everyone else. Madison suddenly shouted, “hey lets offer those people our chairs.” I stopped and looked up and watched Madison in action. She walked over to two of our other youth kids who were sitting in the only two chairs we had and said “let’s offer our chairs to these people because they have a small child.” Then she looked at the couple, smiled and said “would you like to sit here while we wash your car” or words to that affect. The other two youth gladly and quickly offered up the chairs and the family was grateful. Madison thought nothing of it and went back to washing cars.

Although this might seem like a small thing to some, there are three leadership principles that Madison demonstrated that can and should be applied in any situation.

1. Leaders see the big picture. Madison had a birds-eye view of the big picture. She wasn’t so focused on the task at hand that she was unaware of her environment and those around her. Leaders must be able to focus on the big picture and those around them while handling the day to day tasks.

2. Leaders see the needs of others. Madison quickly recognized that someone had a need. It’s easy to get caught up in work and getting the job done and disregard the needs of others. Leaders are continuously looking for the needs of those around them and are quick to notice when others don’t. Not only do leaders see the needs of others, but they figure out what they have to offer to meet that need. In this case, it was simply two chairs for a mother with a small child. But if it was so simple, why is it that only one person out of 15 to 20 saw the need and offered a solution? It’s called leadership!

3. Leaders take action. Madison not only had her eye on the big picture and saw someone in need, but she quickly took action. Sometimes you don’t need a board meeting; you simply need to take action! In communicating with the other two youth, Madison identified a need and offered a solution with enthusiasm and purpose. Her kindness and genuine concern for others influenced the other youth to immediately move into action. There was no need for questions or discussion, just a willingness to get it done.

I was so impressed with Madison that I had to ask her permission to write about her actions in my blog. Let this young leader be an example to all of us that true leadership is about seeing the big picture, serving the needs of others, and taking action to get it done.

Comments welcome.