Pastoral Leadership, Part 7: Communication

I have the joy of teaching in our Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Seminary. It is an outstanding program of study with majors in Expository Preaching, Leadership, Biblical Counseling, Faith and Culture, and Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. You can learn more about the program by going here or by phone at 919-761-2216.

Recently, I received a very fine paper from one of my students on “Leadership in the Local Church.” The author is a pastor of a very prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention who is leading it through a time of transition following a long tenured pastor. The focus of his paper was on how to lead a local congregation through a time of transition without blowing up the place. As many of us know this is easier said than done.

With his permission I will share in several blog entries an edited version of his paper. There is real wisdom in what you will read. For obvious reasons the particular church and the pastor’s identity will not be disclosed.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 7: Communication

The seventh principle that must guide any new leader in the midst of transition is the principle of communication. There is much written and said in our day about communication. As we counsel men and women preparing for marriage it cannot be emphasized enough the importance of communicating with one another. As we think about our own relationship to God, the principle of communication is always before us. We teach new disciples that through God’s Word He communicates his plan and His will for our lives. We also teach them that through prayer we communicate our hearts to Him. Thus, we teach the most basic tool of discipleship in a personal quiet time with God each day, emphasizing the importance of communication in the relationship. Well, it is also accurate that a new leader, in transition, must truly understand the importance of communication with staff, with lay leaders, and with the church family as a whole. What must be communicated? There are at least three primary things that every leader must communicate: who he is as a person; what his vision for the organization is and how that vision will be achieved.

Every new leader must allow his organization to know who he really is as a person. We live in a world where privacy has been established as a premium. Yet, there is no substitute for individuals within any organization getting to know their leader on a personal level. This is especially true in the church. As I dealt with the Pastor Search Team, they indicated they were looking for four things in the next pastor. First, they wanted someone who preached God’s Word unapologetically, communicating God’s truth week after week. Secondly they wanted a strong family man, whose wife and children complemented his life. Thirdly, they wanted someone recognized as being a leader in a city where he served. Finally, they wanted a pastor who would love the people, and who would allow the people to love him. There is a desire among believers to know their pastor, and to be able to love him and his family. As leaders of these congregations, we must be willing to open our hearts and lives to people.

There must also be the communication of what the new leader casts as a vision for the organization. Every organization should have core values that clearly define who the organization is and what it considers its primary goals. William Plamondon, author of the article on “Energy and Leadership” writes: “Leaders need to help set the standards to which the organization aspires, to challenge its members with a lofty goal, and to make sure that everyone understands the goal and what he or she must do to attain it. It is the leader’s responsibility to communicate this goal in a clear and compelling way that inspires the organization to move to new heights and at faster speeds that it would ordinarily attain on its own” (The Drucker Foundation, The Leader of the Future, 277). John Maxwell, in one of his Injoy Life Club lessons, quotes the legendary University of Alabama football coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant, as stating that there are five things that winning team members need to know: 1) Tell me what you expect from me; 2) Give me an opportunity to perform; 3) Let me know how I am getting along; 4) Give me guidance where I need it; 5) Reward me according to my contribution. Without question the new leader must communicate effectively the vision God has placed on his heart.

The new leader must communicate some specific steps that will be taken to achieve the vision and goals. Each year I have found that our staff retreat has become a real highlight for me and for other staff members. It is a time of vision-casting from my heart as the pastor and it has become a time of reporting what the previous year yielded in terms of successes and lessons learned. One of the greatest responses of feedback that has been received is the gratefulness for specific numeric goals that have been placed before them and specific ideas of programs to be executed. Each staff member has their area in which they are encouraged to dream, plan, and execute programs that will reach out to the lost as well as grow and develop believers. They must not be micromanaged, but rather they must be empowered to lead out in their respective areas. However, there are some major church-wide emphases that must come from the heart and vision of the pastor. They key is for everyone to walk away sensing that they have been valued, heard, and understood. This will be accomplished only by clear communication from the leader.

In the closing words of The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker pens these words: “Only executive effectiveness can enable this society to harmonize its two needs: the needs of the organization to obtain from the individual the contribution it needs, and the need of the individual to have organization serve as his tool for the accomplishment of his purpose. Effectiveness must be learned” (174). The issue of leadership is a multifaceted issue. The new leader moving into a role of transition will find challenges and blessings that will be very unique to the situation where he has been called to serve. And yet, there are some essential principles that will serve any new leader well as they carry out the call Christ has placed upon their lives. These principles that we have discussed are certainly not exhaustive. They have become in my life however, guiding principles that continue to impact decisions made and steps taken as I carry out this call of leadership in my own personal life. I pray that I will continually look toward godliness, integrity, courage, passion, compassion, competence, and communication as principles to lean upon each day.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 6: Competence

I have the joy of teaching in our Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Seminary. It is an outstanding program of study with majors in Expository Preaching, Leadership, Biblical Counseling, Faith and Culture, and Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. You can learn more about the program by going here or by phone at 919-761-2216.

Recently, I received a very fine paper from one of my students on “Leadership in the Local Church.” The author is a pastor of a very prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention who is leading it through a time of transition following a long tenured pastor. The focus of his paper was on how to lead a local congregation through a time of transition without blowing up the place. As many of us know this is easier said than done.

With his permission I will share in several blog entries an edited version of his paper. There is real wisdom in what you will read. For obvious reasons the particular church and the pastor’s identity will not be disclosed.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 6: Competence

The sixth principle that must characterize the leader in transition is competence. In Leith Anderson’s book, Leadership That Works, he includes a chapter called, “Expectation-The Rules Are Changing.” One of the changes he discusses is a shift from the old rule that said, “faithfulness is sufficient.” The new rule is “effectiveness is required.” Anderson states, “This is not to say that an earlier generation rewarded incompetence, nor that today’s leaders need not be faithful. It is to say that the pendulum has swung toward an expectation that leaders will not only show up but also know what to do when they get there and get it done before they leave. If they are ineffective, they are more likely to be terminated than they would have been a generation earlier” (119). While Anderson speaks to the issue within the church organization; it should not surprise us that the secular environment shares a similar concern. In The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, their extensive survey work revealed that of the top four things people look for and admire in leaders, one of those top four was competence. They defined leadership competence as the leader’s track record and ability to get things done. They go on to point out that, “it is highly unlikely a leader can succeed without both relevant experience and, most important, exceptionally good people skills (underlining ours). The most important competency a leader brings to the role is the ability to work well with others” (30). Therefore, it is clear that a principle that must guide each leader is the trait of being competent. So, how does a new leader move into a situation and demonstrate competence? There are two critical aspects. The first is to know your own strengths and weaknesses. The second is to observe and learn the other team member’s strengths and weaknesses.

Peter Drucker, in his work, The Effective Executive, writes: “The effective executive makes strength productive. He knows that one cannot build on weakness. To achieve results, one has to use all the available strengths-the strengths of associates, the strengths of the superior, and one’s own strengths” (71). This truth becomes extremely critical when it comes to building a team of leaders to work with you. As the new pastor begins to consider people for his team, it is important to know the areas where he may have weaknesses. Finding individuals to be part of the team who possess different gifts and different strengths than that which the pastor possesses enables there to be a team that is well balanced and well positioned to minister effectively across a broad spectrum of all types of people which make up most congregations.

The second aspect of this competence is to know your team and be able to help guide and lead them. Drucker again writes: “The effective executive focuses on contribution. He looks up from his work and outward toward goals. He asks: ‘What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the institution I serve?’ His stress is on responsibility” (Ibid). As the new leader recognizes the strengths and weaknesses of all the members of his leadership team he is able to know who and what needs attention. Oftentimes, it is this individual time of leadership development that produces the greatest fruit in ministry. If there is ever a time and place where we must move beyond “turfism” and build a true attitude of teamwork it must be in the staff and leadership of the local New Testament church. This is the whole emphasis of Paul when describing spiritual gifts, and all members working to build up the body (Eph. 4:1-16). Working well with people and investing in them is paramount to the new leader in transition.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 5: Compassion

I have the joy of teaching in our Doctor of Ministry Program at Southeastern Seminary. It is an outstanding program of study with majors in Expository Preaching, Leadership, Biblical Counseling, Faith and Culture, and Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth. You can learn more about the program by going here or by phone at 919-761-2216.

Recently, I received a very fine paper from one of my students on “Leadership in the Local Church.” The author is a pastor of a very prominent church in the Southern Baptist Convention who is leading it through a time of transition following a long tenured pastor. The focus of his paper was on how to lead a local congregation through a time of transition without blowing up the place. As many of us know this is easier said than done.

With his permission I will share in several blog entries an edited version of his paper. There is real wisdom in what you will read. For obvious reasons the particular church and the pastor’s identity will not be disclosed.

Pastoral Leadership, Part 5: Compassion

The fifth principle that should guide the leader in transition has been the principle of compassion. The leader of any organization facing the anxiety of transition among the followers must understand the principle of compassion to guide him. Some months ago, sitting in a lecture by Dr. David Beck, Professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, I heard him ask this question, “Would the world or culture in which we live recognize Jesus as a leader?” Dr. Beck then listed the following traits: One who knocks on doors, waiting to be invited in; One who plays with children; One who washes feet; One who prays for me; One who died for me. Over the course of his lecture, he examined the leadership style of Jesus. Without question, the leadership style of Jesus involved compassion. In Mark 5, one can see the power of Jesus as he has compassion on a demon-possessed man, healing him from his torment. In that same chapter one sees Jesus having compassion on a father’s broken heart at the death of his daughter, when He brings Jairus’ daughter back from the dead. And how could one forget the woman with the “issue of blood.” Jesus had compassion upon her and made her whole. The compassion of Jesus for the brokenness in people’s lives is a leadership quality which must not be ignored. Too many high powered leaders miss this. They may even brag about not having it to their shame.

As a new leader in a new congregation, it is critical that followers understand the caring nature of their leader. A pastor must look at this principle of compassion for people and their needs, and let the genuine concern ring loud and clear as a priority in our leadership. It is this principle that reminds every pastoral leader that as servants of Christ, we are in the people business. When we no longer really have a burden for people, their hurts and their needs, we are essentially out of business.

For our church, the development of a Deacon Family Ministry was a key component to demonstrating the importance of caring and showing compassion in this congregation. While this ministry continues to need improvement (what ministry doesn’t!) its implementation early in the transition was important for two reasons. First, it helped to establish, teach, and train, for what the new leader’s vision would be for the role of deacon. Deacon bodies in the average Southern Baptist church struggle with their role. They vary between being the board of directors, administrating and carrying out all decision of power in the church, and being a ministering body of leaders who pray for, show concern for, and carry out ministry to the body of believers they serve. The teaching and training, along with the assignments of serving as an extension of pastoral ministry to the church, brings the deacons to a more biblical model of their call. Secondly, however, the implementation of an effective deacon ministry to families becomes crucial to keeping up with the needs of a large congregation. The pastor, even with an extensive staff, cannot keep up with all the needs of the fellowship that require some kind of response. The deacons can have a personal touch to a number of families when they face times of distress or times of celebration. They also help the new leader determine where the needs are that could use a touch from the pastor. This is much more effective than a new leader trying to take a shot in the dark as to who needs a touch and who does not. The relationship and bond of the pastor with his deacons, showing compassion together to meet the needs of a congregation, is a powerful instrument.