At the end of this month I will have been in full time ministry for 8 years. Eight years longer than I thought possible in my 20’s. In that time I’ve realized that leadership in ministry isn’t all that different from leadership elsewhere. I’ve lead Marines as a squad leader, teams as a project manager, and staff & volunteers as a pastor. Each one required its own approach and skill set, but some things have been exactly the same.
Leadership always requires something from the leader before it ever gives anything back.
Here are 5 things leaders give up:
1. AGENDA: Squad leaders train war fighters to accomplish the mission. Project managers align teams to maintain profitability. Pastors encourage and enable people to carry a message. There’s no room for a personal program that detracts from the main objective. In each case, the leader gives up his own agenda for the sake of the bigger picture.
2. LEAVING EARLY: Andy Stanley says “Speed of the leader, speed of the team”. It’s hard to ask big things from people if the leader isn’t personally willing to sacrifice. This could extend to showing up late as well. Either way, longs hours are part of the game. Everybody wants to go home, but leaders give up the right to leave early.
3. VENTING: As a lance corporal I would say “bitching is how I cope”. That worked as a lance corporal. However, as an NCO I learned something different: “only bitch up hill”. Leaders have the power to influence the emotional and psychological tone of the team. No matter how bad the situation, leaders give up the right to vent frustration on those they lead.
4. SIDES: During group conflict it’s human nature to choose sides. It’s a survival mechanism; none of us wants to be alone. Choosing sides as a leader, though, jeopardizes the big picture which is getting EVERYBODY going in the same direction. While it’s absolutely necessary to address the conflict, leaders give up the luxury of choosing a side within their team.
5. TROPHIES: Great leaders absorb criticism and deflect praise. It’s easy to get that backwards. Most team failures usually point back to leadership, and good leaders know this. Conversely, none of us achieve success entirely on our own, we always have someone to thank. Lone-wolf leadership was debunked years ago. Great leaders hold accolades with an open hand and give up the trophy.