Teaching doesn’t always take place in a classroom with books and lectures. Often we teach people through the example of our lives. This is closely related to another spiritual gift — leadership. Believe it or not, we are all leaders in some area of our lives. So for the next several posts I’ll be sharing portions of a talk I gave years ago on a Via de Christo retreat weekend. The title of the talk is “leaders.”
Some of you may have a hard time thinking of yourselves as leaders. I used to feel that way, too. I remember the time years ago when a new member of our congregation told me what wonderful church leaders my husband Terry and I were. I was shocked! I had never been the president, an elder, or even chaired a Church Council committee. I didn’t think I was a leader because I was seldom the person in charge. But you do not have to be the boss, or the manager, or the president to lead. Think about your life and the people in it–your family, your friends, the people with whom you work and play. Do your decisions ever affect their decisions? When you express an opinion, does it ever cause one of them to say, “I never thought about that before, but I agree with you.” Is your enthusiasm, or your excitement, or your frustration ever catching? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you are a leader because leaders (and teachers) are those who through their person and conduct influence the thoughts and actions of others. If you are involved with other human beings, chances are someone thinks of you as a leader.
There are well-documented studies that point to certain natural qualities which leaders possess. These qualities are: the spirit of initiative, the ability to risk, a sense of responsibility, personal authenticity and generosity. Through the intentional cultivation of piety, study and action, every one of us can further develop our qualities of leadership. We can teach others.
In order to be an effective leader, you must have a team. In fact we’re all part of teams at work, at church, in community organizations, even in our family. Maxwell says the question is not “will I participate in something that involves others?” The question is, “will my involvement with others be successful?” In his book, he lists seventeen “laws” that will help your team perform better. He uses illustrations from business, sports, churches and other organizations that have succeeded through effective teamwork. At the end of each chapter, there is a teamwork thought that summarizes the law, a paragraph about becoming a better team member, and a paragraph on becoming a better team leader. He also refers readers to his website http://LawsOfTeamwork.com for further information.
VERDICT: 4 STARS. The information is clearly presented and the book could easily used by a team or leadership group at your church for study and discussion. A workbook is also available. However, since it was written in 2001, some of his examples are a bit dated, especially the references to Enron as a successful example to emulate.
Webster’s 4th grade class is participating in the school Field Day and Webster is worried — he’s not good at any of the events! This will be the worst day of his life! He prays for a flood, an earthquake, a snow storm or ANYTHING that will save him from the embarrassment of failing in front of everyone.
Of course, we find that Webster is good at something very important, leading and encouraging others. He serves water, makes helpful suggestions, picks the winning relay race team and notices a math error that allows his class to win Field Day. His teacher and classmates praise him for having an important part in their victory.
This engaging tale for grade school children is inspired by the movie, Overcomer. It makes the point that we are all “fearfully and wonderfully made.”(Psalm 139:14) through a story line that children will understand and relate to. Team work and encouragement are highlighted. The Parent Connection page at the end contains a Bible verse, explanation and thought questions for further discussion. The illustrations by Daniel Fernandez are excellent.
VERDICT: 5 stars
If you would like to purchase this book, follow the link below:
The Fanning the Flame process our congregation embarked on over a year ago taught me that good leaders are lifelong learners. Leadership is one of the things we need to cultivate among our members, and so I checked this book out of the local library in the hopes I would find some suggestions about how to do that.
I actually expected it to be rather dull, and it has been on the bottom of my reading stack for a while now. Surprisingly, once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down! Far from a boring, business treatise, The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader takes a hard look at leaders from many arenas — church, sports, politics and more.
Each chapter focuses on one quality. There are quotes, real life examples, a succinct listing of the characteristics of a person with that quality, reflection questions, suggestions to grow that quality in yourself and finally a daily “take-away” with another example that reinforces the theme of the chapter. Each chapter if short — about 5 pages.
I read it quickly, but the author actually intends it to be read slowly, so that the information can be digested and put into practice. The qualities are:
VERDICT: 5 Stars! I went out and bought my own copy and suggested that my husband use it as a training tool with our council and elders.
I’ve asked some of the Fanning the Flame team members to let me know what they have been learning as part of the process. This is Debbie’s story which she has allowed me to share with our readers.
When I first heard about Fanning the Flame I was anxious to find out what this could mean for our Church.
I have not been disappointed. I am excited with what we have been doing so far and am looking forward to all that is coming next.
One of the first things was looking at our prayer life individually and as a Church. I have a much better understanding of the importance and necessity of my prayer life. I really took an in depth look at my prayer life as it is today and what I want it to look like in one year from now. Just taking the time and really focusing on my prayer life for the first time was really an eye opener. I found my prayer life a was not what it should be and this has helped me change it and has made a huge difference.
I am working on my spiritual gifts survey now and I know this will help me find out what my true spiritual gifts are and will help guide me to do what God wants me to do.
We have been talking about repentance and how necessary that is as individuals and as a Church. The Pastor just talked about repentance in his sermon. True repentance for all of our sins is absolutely necessary in Christian life and restores our relationship with God. I have come to realize that just asking God to forgive all my sins is not enough. For true repentance I really need to think about all my sins when I repent and this has helped me focus on all my sins when I am asking God for forgiveness.
There are many strategies we have identified to best help our Church and fulfill God’s purpose for us. I was asked to be on the FTF Strategy Task Force for Small Group Discipleship and we just had our first meeting. We are looking at small groups ministry and the leadership of these groups and how these groups should look and what important aspects they should contain. We are off to a good start and I am excited with what we are going to be doing.
FTF is definitely changing me and I am looking forward to what we will be doing as a group and as a congregation. There are so many good and positive things in store for us.
Our life is full of acronyms and I’m going to teach you a new one. We learned this from the recent CD that the Fanning the Flame team reviewed together. MBWA = Ministry By Walking Around. What does this mean? Well, leaders must be visible and accessible. You’ve heard of managers having an “open door policy”? This takes it a step further. Leaders must go out and mingle with their followers; they must hear what they have to say; they must know what’s going on in their lives; they must be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. This develops relationships and trust. It helps the leader accurately access where his followers are now and how to guide them to the place he wants them to be.
Maybe that’s why Jesus is sometimes called our shepherd. A shepherd lives with the sheep: he knows them and they know him.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27
Sheep trust their shepherd — they are willing to go where he leads because they have learned that he has their best interests at heart.
In our church, I notice my husband, the Pastor, doing some of this MBWA. Every Sunday he is in the sanctuary early to meet people as they come in. He takes time to ask them how things are going, and take prayer requests for the service. Even if he is not working at a particular congregational event, he tries to spend some time just being there. He often chats with people when they stop by the church during the week to do some chore or drop something off. I have also learned the value of just taking an interest in the hobbies or interests of others. It goes a long way toward building friendships.
Woody Allen once said, 80% of success is just showing up. There’s some truth in that. If you’re in a leadership position, do you show up? It’s a good question to ponder and pray about.
As part of our Fanning the Flame process, all team members (and eventually all of our congregation) will be offered the opportunity to do a spiritual gifts assessment. Leadership is a spiritual gift, and in this month of exploring leaders, I thought everyone would benefit from having the following definition which was provided as part of our material. After reading this, do you think you may have the spiritual gift of leadership?
Literal Meaning: To stand before
Description: The gift of leadership is the special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to set goals in accordance with God’s purpose for the future and to communicate those goals to others in such a way that they voluntarily and harmoniously work together to accomplish those goals for the glory of God.
Provide direction for God’s people or ministry 2.
Model the values of the ministry
Take responsibility and establish goals
Motivate others to perform to the best of their abilities
Present the big picture for others to see
q Should realize their relational credibility takes time
and is critical for leadership effectiveness
q Should remember that servant leadership is
biblical model, the greatest being the servant of all
q Do not need to be in a leadership “position” to use this gift
q Goal setter
References: Acts 15:7-12; Romans 12:8; I Timothy 5:17
This is a continuation of my post from yesterday, which discussed Pastor Harry Reeder’s talk about how leaders create a culture for change. Listening to it was part of our teaming process.
Lay leaders are also important in any transitional process. Here are some of the ways they contribute to successful change:
Take a pulse of the congregation; let the Pastor know where the people are in the process
Pray with and for individuals in the congregation
Remember the Pastor can’t shepherd everybody so lay leaders can be there for fellow members who are hurting
Find ways to communicate change
Good change agents know that VISION PROMOTES CHANGE. We must all have a vision of what we want our congregation to look like, and we must communicate that to others. Harry Reeder says successful change agents should:
Bring change respectfully, not judgmentally
Start with affirmation
Find a way to be a good loser (not every change will be accepted)
Use logic and passion to persuade with gentleness and without emotional manipulation
Don’t surprise people
Admit your own mistakes
I found this CD both inspiring and helpful. One big takeaway — good leaders build morale and achieve consensus. That’s what we’re working toward here at St. Paul’s. Readers, pray for us to be successful.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Long ago (1990) and in a universe far, far away (Camp Hemlock Overlook, Va.) I walked with Christ on Women’s Rainbow Via de Cristo #21 where I sat at the table of Deborah. Years later someone asked what I received on that weekend that I would most like to pass along.
I thought long and hard and I can boil it down to one word: encouragement. A VDC weekend is probably the only place in the world where all you have to do to get a round of applause is stand up and state your name! It’s a place where virtual strangers (who quickly become sisters in Christ) will hug you. On a VDC weekend, people really listen to what you have to say and they don’t judge you. They pray for you and with you. It’s a place that feels safe, and very, very, encouraging.
Here’s the best part: the weekend happens only once, but you can pass it on by giving someone else that great feeling of encouragement EVERY SINGLE DAY for the rest of your life. Encouragement is listed as one of the spiritual gifts that build up the Church, and every one of us can prac-tice it. Here are just a few suggestions:
Send a birthday card
Write a thank you note
Give a pat on the back –“great job!”
Bake/cook someone’s favorite
Say “I love you”
Help someone with a job or project — before they ask
Ask someone to pray for you (yes, that is encouraging, because it shows you trust them)
Listen, really listen when someone shares with you
Pass along a book you found helpful/interesting/inspiring
Well, you get the idea. It’s not very hard. It won’t cost you much. And it can change somebody’s day, maybe even their life. It may change your life as well. Give it a try. Go out and pass it on. That’s what good leaders do.