I’ve seen it many times. A church leader is having trouble. She can’t gain traction with a particularly difficult person. He is stymied about how to get support on a stewardship project. A brand new ministry that once seemed promising is now failing to launch.
What does the leader do? Instead of approaching things from a new angle they simply dig in and try harder. For example, if her style of leadership is naturally inclusive, she bends over backwards to make sure even more people feel included. If his style of leadership is resolute, he becomes ever more decisive. If her style is humble, she sacrifices even more, hoping her self-giving will finally give wings to the ministry.
Rarely does this approach create a breakthrough. Instead, it creates resentment, hopelessness, and a victim-stance. All the while deepening the leader’s blind spot. And crippling the church.
By doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results, the leader is actually sabotaging their natural capacity to lead. Others lose trust in them. They lose trust in themselves. The ministry of the congregation suffers.
But there’s hope for the leader who wants disappear their blind spot, expand their vision, and free the church to do great ministry. My 10 steps to leadership enlightenment is powerful and transformative. A word of caution, though: it’s not for sissies. It takes a willingness to see yourself more clearly, be vulnerable with others, and lead from unsure footing.
You’ve heard it said if the only tool in your toolkit is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. If you approach every problem with the same 1 or 2 strengths, that’s a sure sign that you’re operating from a blind spot. If so, there’s no time to lose! Let’s get started.
- Pray for openness to engage in this process. Ask God to guide you, ground you, and help you get out of your comfort zone. Repeat as needed!
- Choose a challenging ministry situation in which your leadership is needed.
- Identify what an ideal outcome of the situation would be.
- Ask two or three others whom you trust to tell you the truth, and with guidance from the Holy Spirit, identify your top 3 leadership strengths.
- Together, identify how these 3 strengths helped or could help in this particular situation.
- Now with your trusted friends, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, reflect on how your 3 strengths may actually hinder an ideal outcome. These answers will give you a rough outline of your leadership blind spot. You could stop right here. But keep going if you’d like to learn how to act on your blind spot.
- Interview others in the church and in your circle of influence about which 3 additional leadership behaviors they would like to see you add to your toolkit.
- Compile a list of all the answers you get, no matter how you feel about them. Likely, these behaviors are outside of your comfort zone. They wouldn’t naturally occur to you to do. You might not even know how to do them.
- Look for behaviors that are opposite your natural comfort zone.
- Choose one or two of these leadership behaviors to practice using in the situation you identified in step #2. Notice what works and what doesn’t. Practice and repeat.
These 10 steps work. Take Pastor Jack for example. He prided himself on being a humble leader. He didn’t need the limelight. He had no ego to feed. He did everything for Christ. He brought this humility, and his humor, to every situation he encountered. While plenty of people admired him, and laughed at his jokes, his ministry remained ineffective. Leaders with bigger personalities ran roughshod over his modest ideas—and he was powerless to reign them in. Discontents bypassed him because they felt he wouldn’t be able to do anything. Rumor had it that he wasn’t really invested in the life of the church.
Pastor Jack tried to laugh it off, prayed deeply, and became ever more selfless. While he felt protected by God, it didn’t change the dynamics of the church.
Eventually he was moved. The church went through a series of pastors and still floundering. But when Pastor Jack applied this 10-step process in his next church, things unfolded in a new way. He identified 3 new approaches to ministry that he was able to incorporate. For example, where once he led from behind, he now leads from closer to the front. Where once he was afraid to cast a vision, he now finds comfort in being more bold. Where once he left details dangling, he now follows through, dotting i’s and crossing t’s. The church is growing spiritually, unhindered by unresolved conflicts, and their ministries are reaching deep into the community.
If you’d like to go deeper on this topic, register for Leadership Smarts, Track 2 of Creating a Culture of Renewal. Get the Early Bird discount when you register by April 22. In Track 2, I help leaders just like you:
- Avoid the mistakes that sabotage your natural capacity to lead.
- Increase your satisfaction in ministry while understanding the gifts others appreciate about you.
- Gain deeper clarity about your under-utilized assets and how to employ them.
Please note, completion of Track 1: Culture and Communication, is a prerequisite to Track 2.