Leaders Go First
A few weeks ago, I shared one of my personal prayers with our church. I am challenging our church to become a bit uncomfortable for the sake of accomplishing the mission Jesus left for us: to make disciples who make disciples. Just praying for numerical growth was a mistake I’ve made in the past, but success has a way of changing how you think.
Now, my hopes and prayers for our church are framed around Jesus’ definition of success. For our church this means adding 50 new people by December 21st of this year (which also happens to be my birthday).
This goal represents a huge stretch for us. As a small church, this goal would mean more than doubling our church in size in a period of less than 3 months. LET ME BE CLEAR about this goal. It was not born out of some ill conceived desire for personal success. This goal was the product of spending weeks of focused time of prayer and fasting.
As I fasted and prayed I became convinced that God wanted to ignite our faith and passion for Him and His church. But how do I, as a leader, equip our people to join me on this journey?
I do this by setting the pace.
As I challenge our church to reach 50 new people, I follow with “I’m going first.” Here a few ways I am going first as a leader:
1. I am taking personal responsibility for 10% of the goal.
I am a natural visionary. I routinely dream of what God could and would do if we are willing to get out of the boat. The challenge visionaries face is the gap between what we see and what others may see. Typically, as a visionary, I tend to see the bigger picture and end result. As a result, I must be able to give those I’m leading need a clear picture and plan to get from where they are to where they’re going. One of the ways I hope to address this is by letting those I lead see how I am approaching and taking responsibility for the goals we set.
2. I am sharing updates on my personal progress.
Each week I will share with our church where I stand in relation to the goal. For example, this past Sunday I shared that I had two new people attend our Missional Community this week. Why am I sharing this you might ask? First, I am making myself accountable to our congregation. I want them to know that my passion is not lip service, but a genuine desire to see God’s Kingdom prevail. Second, I am leading our people to think about where they stand. When I share the story of inviting neighbors and friends it leads everyone else to think of who they could invite as well.
3. I am praying for inviting opportunities.
The church will always be dependent upon God and His power. One of the primary ways we tap into this power is through prayer. Prayer is one of the primary responsibilities of ministry leaders. It is the battlefield on which we claim territory that we otherwise could not possess. I am praying that God would open my eyes and the eyes of our congregation to see opportunities to invite others into community. This could mean inviting them to church, inviting them to a Missional Community gathering or inviting them to lunch. I am also praying that we would have the boldness to ask. One of the things we often forget is that asking is the beginning of receiving. When we are afraid to ask we miss the benefits of receiving.
4. I will celebrate those who partner with me.
Leaders build healthy culture by affirming those who embody the positive traits they hope to see. This means shining light on those within the church who follow my example. This can be a powerful tool. Some people believe the pastor carries some special power to get things done within the church and this can leave them paralyzed with fear. Not realizing they also have gifts that play an important role. When leaders highlight those in the congregation who also embody the spirit of passion, the goals now become attainable by everyone. As stories roll in of new people accepting invites, I will tell those stories and appreciate the people who have taken steps to partner with Christ in seeing His mission fulfilled in our church.
Leaders carry a tall task. We are often challenged to take our ministry or organization in a direction that it naturally resists. I have found it helpful for leaders to begin with themselves. Then like the apostle Paul we can say, “Follow me as I follow Christ”. What can you do to lead by example?