Select Page
How I Discovered My Sweet Spot in Leadership

How I Discovered My Sweet Spot in Leadership

My ninth year as Director of Premarital Ministry was my best year ever. Our ministry grew like crazy. We were having a impact in both our church and in the community.

Then came my tenth year in ministry.

Our leadership team gave me the opportunity to increase my leadership capacity. The downside would be leaving the job I loved in the marriage ministry. After much prayer and consideration, I accepted the offer.

Seven months after taking on the new role, I moved back to marriage ministry. Outside looking in, it might have appeared as though I failed. But these job transitions have been among the best things that have ever happened to me. In the process, I learned a few things about myself:

1. I’m a better soldier than a general

In other words, I am better at executing a plan than directing and crafting the plan. Give me a direction and I’ll execute the heck out of it, but I’m more wired for others to direct the course. In my moments of insecurity, I somehow believe the general is more valuable in God’’s eyes than the soldier.

While the world and the church may more highly esteem the general, God values each one. He loves us all the same and doesn’’t value one ministry role more than the other. Looking for evidence? See the cross. Romans 5:8 says: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no distinction: equal need for a Savior, equal recipients of His love.

2. I learned how I’m wired

I like going deep in one area of ministry (marriage) rather than going wide and less deep. Rather than leading a large slice of the pie, I do better with one narrow (yet highly significant) sliver of the pie.

I’’d rather lead one area up close than many areas from a distance. No one grows up wanting to be a marriage pastor, but I am so thankful this is the area I get to serve and use my gifts.

3. I gained a better respect for those different than me

I learned to respect the skill set required for senior pastors, campus pastors, or ministry directors who lead multiple, large teams. I relearned that God gives different gifts to different people for different purposes, but all for His glory and for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:4-7).

I was reminded that God chooses for some to be an ear, some to be a foot, and some to be the colon! All are necessary for the body to function in the way He desires and designs.

4. I learned this all could change in the future

I wouldn’’t be surprised if at some point down the road, I move to another role, either as a campus pastor or maybe even another job at another church. I sure hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me. And, I hope I’m not the same person in five years that I am right now. I pray God will continue to grow and sanctify me in whatever way He wishes.

Ask Yourself These Questions

Shifting gears to you: How are you wired? What are your gifts? Are you in your sweet spot in leadership? Ask yourself some honest questions:

  • Do you think some gifts are more valuable than others?
  • Do you covet a role higher in the org chart? If so, is it for the right reasons (because it fits your gifts and skills) or for the wrong reasons (more money, more power, more worldly esteem)?
  • Are you being faithful where you are right now or are you waiting for the next opportunity to come your way?

Ask others you work with if they think you’re in the right spot. Ask your boss for his or her thoughts on your ministry sweet spot. Ask how you can grow, and when they respond, be teachable, humble and don’t be defensive. If you’’re married, ask your spouse the same questions you asked your boss. Again, don’’t be defensive!

In retrospect, I don’’t think I should have changed roles. I don’’t like change, and the last year has been a year with a fair amount of transition. But, I have learned much in the process and I have gained a much greater perspective on how the Lord has fearfully and wonderfully made and designed me.

The Myth of More

The Myth of More

Over the past twelve years, I’ve served on staff at three different churches. More times than I can count, I have said the words, “If I only had more ____________, I would be able to make a greater impact in my area of ministry.”

My fill in the blank has been:

  • more time
  • more money
  • more help
  • more staff
  • more support
  • more publicity
  • more experience
  • more people showing up
  • more room at the church

Every time I made that statement I really believed that was the answer to my struggles.

More Is an Excuse

It certainly couldn’t be my lack of knowledge, leadership or direction. It had to be something outside of my control (insert sarcastic eye roll). Are you with me so far? Have you found yourself in a similar position? Have you been telling yourself that same thing this week?

What I’ve learned is that my complaints were more revealing of my capacity issues as a leader than they were resource issues.

As my pastor said in a recent sermon, “if you’re complaining about your current position it usually means you’ve reached your capacity and need to grow in some area.” Now that we all feel bad about our leadership, let’s look at some solutions.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

The first two churches I served with averaged less than 500 attendees on the weekend. My current position is with a church that averages 7,500.

While at the smaller churches, I used to tell myself, “I could really do some serious ministry if I had the resources, space and staff help that those guys at the big churches have.” Let me report my findings now that I’m at a bigger church.

On paper, I currently lead our couples ministry and counseling ministry. I share a small portion of the weekend teaching responsibilities. I help oversee our staff accountability and development. Yet, I have zero paid staff assistance in any area of ministry. That means all the ministry that occurs in the areas I lead is accomplished through volunteers.

I’ve realized an important truth in my current role—God will give you all the resources you need to accomplish what He has given you to do. I know that we all agree with that statement intellectually. But do we really believe it at the heart level?

If I’m not dedicated to that belief, not much would get done in the ministries I serve. Right now, there are people in your church who would love to put their gifts and passions to work. They’re ready to help you accomplish the vision God has given you for your ministry area.

Invest In People

Whether you are at a large church of thousands or a church of fifty, you can begin moving towards the grander vision you have for ministry today. The philosophy is simple—grow people and they will turn into teams. Grow teams and they will turn into ministries.

Two years ago, I met a woman at church and invited her and her husband to our small group. After getting to know the two of them, I saw she had a passion for divorced couples. She had experienced divorce herself and had attended a class at a previous church for divorcees.

This began a discussion about beginning a Divorce/Separation Care class at our church. I spent some time dreaming with her about what that might look like and also added a couple other people to the discussion that had an interest. We developed a vision, pulled together an eight-week curriculum and launched a ministry six months later.

Did you see how that worked? By investing into one person, we were able to build a team and from that team came a thriving ministry.

Teams Lead to Ministries

The next time you begin to believe the Myth of More, remind yourself to look around and ask God who He has placed in your life. Then, invite them to spend some time with you and see how you can help them grow personally and spiritually.

Do this with a few individuals and next thing you know, you will have a small team. If you intentionally and consistently meet with that team to grow and shape them, you’ll be off and running with that ministry idea that has been on your heart.

“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” —Ephesians 4:11-12

Grow people. People become teams. Grow teams. Teams become ministries.

Eric Wooten is the Pastor of Family Ministries & Counseling at One Community Church in Plano, Texas.

5 Reasons Change is Hard

As a leader, one of the hardest things to do is to lead people through the process of change. The reality is that change is happening around us all the time. If we don’’t change, we’’ll be left behind.

Change is a function of growth. Things cannot grow unless they change. The paradigm that exists with all change as it relates to people is that the person must decide to change before they will.

A leader’’s job is to inspire and influence the people they lead to create an environment where it is easy to change. As with most leadership principles, this one is easier said than done.

I’’ve found that there are really five reasons that change is hard for so many people. In fact, I identified these in myself. So let’’s learn and grow together!

I Don’t Want To

There are moments in time where we become obstinate. We just flat out don’’t want to change. It can be vindictive because we don’’t agree with the change or it can come from a place of bitterness because of a broken relationship.

Regardless of where it comes from or what causes it, this can be very difficult for a leader to overcome. I think the key is to uncover the root and approach the change delicately.

I Don’t See The Value

This is the most common reason that people don’’t adopt change. It is largely the fault of the leader. Ouch! The truth is that leaders must communicate to those around them the “Why” behind the change.

People must move from understand the reason and towards seeing the value behind it. This happens through open dialogue and giving people the time to get there themselves.

I’m Too Comfortable

Let’’s face it—there are many things in our lives that are habits. We are just flat out comfortable doing them. The thought of change means that I am going to have to work hard or do something that is out of the ordinary for me.

Routines and traditions are the comfort zone of many people. This can make change difficult. But, if “there” is better than “here,” then I can more easily leave my place of comfort and move to that place.

We’ve Tried That Before

This one can be pervasive and deadly for an organization. Often, I’’ve found that the old way of doing things may not have worked back then, but it works great now. This is usually because there are different people involved or there was something missing back then that isn’’t today.

When people get the sense that we’’ve tried it before and it didn’’t work, this can be a difficult idea to overcome. In many ways, the leader will have to take some risk and prove to the team, through practical application, that it can work now even when it didn’’t work then.

It’’s Too Much Work

I’’ve already mentioned the idea of comfort zones. But this goes beyond that. Not only does change inherently require us to work harder, but most change brings with it new systems, new processes, and even new personalities.

Change is hard work and it requires a team that is able to endure…focused on the end result. The most important thing a leader can do when faced with this mentality is to re-focus the team on the mission.

The change is directly tied to the mission and if we don’t change, it means that we will not be fulfilling our mission and could, in a worst case scenario, become extinct.

Can you relate to any of these? Which of these have you been guilty of when faced with change?

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.

4 Steps to Developing Volunteers into Leaders

4 Steps to Developing Volunteers into Leaders

“A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.” —Mollie Marti

I remember way back when I thought I could do it all myself. Sure, there was a ton of work leading my first children’s’ ministry. We had about 75 kids and 20 volunteers. I was busy but it was manageable.

When we grew to 100 kids and still only had 20 volunteers I felt pretty stretched. It was then that I learned that if I wanted to lead a successful and growing ministry to children and their families, I had to have a strong volunteer team that was equipped and encouraged to lead.

God wants us to be noble leaders. Like the quote says above, the nobility of true leadership does not include self-promotion. As leaders in the church, we are to constantly be giving away the most basic thing that we possess: our leadership platform.

When a leader encourages and equips their volunteer team to lead in their place, amazing things can happen. How do you inspire passion and drive in your team so that they pick up the torch and lead the charge?

Lead From Vision

The biggest thing you can do to build leaders on your team is to give them the vision. Scripture says that where there is no vision the people perish. That means where there is vision the people will flourish.

Have Values The Team Remembers

If you have a million values and they are long and wordy I can guarantee you that your team won’t use them to grow in their volunteer role.

If your volunteers aren’’t using your values to grow, then they aren’’t developing into leaders. Make them simple and live by them!

The values in my ministry are Fun, Learning, Relationships, and Innovation.

Give Them The Good Stuff

If you don’’t give your volunteers the good opportunities they will never grow as leaders.

Give them the microphone. Let them lead the big event. Let them in on navigational discussions. When volunteers get good opportunities to lead they will lead!

Don’’t Micromanage, Ever

Micromanaging is never good. Leaders that micromanage lead from a place of weakness and insecurity. Let your volunteers soar. It is OK if your fingerprint isn’’t on it.

When your volunteers are encouraged and equipped to lead you will have opportunities to grow your ministry way farther than ever before. Take the plunge! Develop those volunteers!

Joe McAlpine has been in ministry for over a decade, serving in staff leadership at churches ranging in attendance from 500 to 7,000. In 2015, Joe joined the team at Slingshot Group and works toward helping great churches connect with great teams. Joe has been happily married to his wife Christy for longer than he can remember and has four children, Elijah, Selah, David, and Elisabeth. In his spare time, you can find him hanging with the family and playing his ukulele.

Reposted with permission from Orange Leaders.

5 Hacks to Increase Your Team’s Consistency

5 Hacks to Increase Your Team’s Consistency

Be sure to read my previous article on knowing if you team is inconsistent. Now you’’ve evaluated the team that you lead and discovered that they’’re not as consistent as you’’d like them to be. Now what? How do I help them become more consistent?

I’m glad you asked! Here are five ways to help increase consistency:

Over-communicate

When leading a team, I’m not sure that it’s possible to communicate too much. I’m sure that it is, but far too many of us woefully under-communicate that an increase in our communication would be welcomed. When we communicate with our teams we are setting expectations.

The more that they hear from us the more likely we are to adequately shape the culture and that leads to consistency and excellence.

Have a system for development

Often, one of the main reasons a team is inconsistent is because they lack training. Especially in any kind of on-going way. If there is training present, it happens haphazardly and without any clear system.

It’’s important that we have a system in place and that we follow that system to train, assess, and create plans for improvement.

Focus on the foundation

When a team is inconsistent, it is best to go back to the basics of what you do. Start at the foundation and then build from there. Even if the team has been together for many years, if you find that they’re not operating at their optimal level, it’’s time to revisit the foundation.

So, pull out the job description, the handbook, or whatever introductory guides that exist and review them with the team.

Staff adequately

Inconsistency can be a by-product of not having enough people. When you’re people are stretched thin and filling multiple roles, they’’re not going to be at their best. So, be sure that you have enough people to do everything that needs to be done.

During certain peak seasons or moments of quick growth, it’’s even valuable to over-staff so that you can exceed the expectations.

Inspect what you expect

I’’m not sure who to give credit to for this statement, but it’s so true. Once you’’ve delegated and once you’’ve trained, it’s vital that you then follow up regularly to make sure that the job is being done and that there’s consistency.

Often, we set the expectation and then walk away and never check back until there’s a fire burning too big to be extinguished. Also, inspecting what you expect will help you identify what you need to communicate about, what you need to train on, etc.

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.

5 Ways to Know If Your Team is Inconsistent

5 Ways to Know If Your Team is Inconsistent

In a world of overload—, information overload, option overload, and overload overload, —there are very few things that set organizations apart from one another.

Making decisions about where we will shop, eat, and worship are becoming more difficult. Who has the best deal? Where did I have the best experience the last time I was there? Which comes the most recommended by my friends?

Decisions can be difficult and confusing. Those organizations that will survive have one foundational principal that helps them succeed and differentiate themselves. A principal that takes years to perfect and only moments to lose. The one principal that will launch a business from mediocre to phenomenal.

What is it? Consistency.

I remember my days in the restaurant business. Consistency was the main goal of our business. Being consistently good, that is. If I go to the restaurant today and order a steak, it will be prepared exactly like it was when I ordered it weeks and even months ago. The service will be every bit as good as it was back “then.” The overall experience that I have will be good from the moment I walk through the doors until I leave at the end of my meal.

You see, consistency was vital before us—mostly because we wanted people (customers) to know what to expect every time they came to our restaurant. If that experience was good, they would choose to come to our place more often than they choose to go to our competitor’s place. It boiled down to them knowing what they would get every time they stepped through our doors.

The same is true in every organization. Consistency is a foundational key to finding success in today’s “overloaded” culture. We must find ways to be more consistent so that the people that come to us can know what to expect and can feel comfortable enough to invite their friends and family to come along with them.

So, as a leader, here are 5 ways to know if your team is inconsistent:

You’’re putting out fires instead of building bridges

If you find yourself regularly having to address crises rather than spending time with customers/people, then you have a team that is inconsistent. The leader of the organization/church/ministry should not be running around addressing issues—but should be meeting people and getting to know those that your organization is reaching.

You’’re reacting instead of being proactive

If you are having to react to things and circumstances rather than having things in place to give people the best experience in your organization, you are leading an inconsistent team. Leaders should have things in place that anticipate needs and concerns so that when they happen, they don’t become a distraction from the mission.

You’’re responding to criticism rather than compliments

Inconsistency often brings with it criticism. Critics wait for an organization to fail and then they jump on it. And, if you’re a person who finds that your time is monopolized by responding to criticism, you have a consistency problem. A consistent organization, on the other hand, finds that it has raving fans.

Think of the best places that you do business with—are they consistent? If so, you are probably quick to recommend them to your friends and tell everyone what a great job they do.

You’’re doing the work rather than leading the work

Leaders of inconsistent organizations can find that they have to spend a lot of their time interacting with the day-to-day. These leaders are entrenched in operational inefficiencies and, because of it, are handicapped in their ability to lead the organization well. They find that they can’t get out of the weeds enough to think about the direction of the organization or making strategic moves to make the team better.

You’’re focused on tasks and systems rather than vision

Don’’t get me wrong, every leader needs to spend time on tasks and systems. Once they are set, the leader should be able to delegate the movement of these things to others. A leader of an inconsistent organization will find themselves in the middle of tasks and systems to the point where they can’t plan for the future.

Rather than visioning for the future, they find their time is spent on how to address the shortfalls from the previous week’s or day’s operations.

As I mentioned in the beginning, consistency is key for every organization. It doesn’’t matter what you do or how many employees you have, if any of these five things are true for you, you need to address this foundational principle of consistency.

How would you rate the organization you work/volunteer for? Do you see any of these five there?

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.