Tagged: leadership

For those that haven’t heard yet, In February next year, I’m taking up the role of Director of Church Planting and Church Development for the Elim movement.  I thought I would share some of the details in the background around one specific issue.  That of transitioning from being a CEO to having a boss or three again.

Theres a line in a well known Pacino movie that goes something like this:-

“Vanity, my favourite sin.”

In the movie, Pacino is the devil in disguise as a lawyer and uses the snare of ego and vanity to get his man.  Its a film every Christian leader should take note of.

After nearly 10 years in leadership at CVM and years before that as senior pastor of a large church, I felt for a whole number of reasons that it was time to step aside.  Some of these reasons were highly strategic.  I had come to the conclusion for example, that CVM needed to known for its aims and objectives rather than for one man at the front.  I also felt that I needed to make way for some highly gifted and talented people on the team.  There were of course, many other reasons for making the change but something I haven’t really spoken about yet was one (there are others) of my own personal reasons.

When I went to CVM I had been leading a large, multi congregational Baptist Church.  When I moved on I went to serve another leader as his “number two” on the team.  Many people at that time thought that I was mad.  “Why on earth would you leave senior leadership to work for someone again?” Was a regular question.  In due course I became the boss but first I had to learn to serve again.  It was a character forming time.

A few times in recent weeks people have asked a similar question or expressed mild surprise.  It seems that in the Christian world, this isn’t viewed as a common trajectory for a “minor personality” or senior leader.  In my new role I will have a day to day boss again and will also report to a National Leadership Team that I won’t be part of.  Sure, its a senior role and I will have a significant amount of freedom but the fact remains that for the first time in many years I wont be calling the shots or setting the overall direction or culture of the movement in which I will serve.  I may also have to deal with my leaders not agreeing with my views and getting on with it anyway without sulking or complaining.  I’ll also have to deal with asking for permission again for some things.  It’ll feel a bit weird but strangely, I’m actually looking forward to it.

Senior leadership has many privileges.  You are the culture setter.  You can make final decisions and you are in  sense, master of your own destiny on a day to day basis.  It has its pressures of course but the sense of freedom to “be” and to create is a fantastic thing.  However, you also get your ego stroked.  You walk into a room and people take notice of what you have to say.  You get announced as a “the leader” or ‘the founder”.  You become acknowledged for being successful (if you have been) and you get a seat round the table at some key meetings.  You also get invited to some pretty cool places.  It’s fun but if you’re not careful it can play havoc with your sense of self.

There is no doubt that God uses profile, personality and leadership.  You see that all the way through the bible. But it beholds us leaders to hear Gods call and not to let ego and vanity get in the way of taking what could be viewed as a “step back” in human terms in order to get the work of The Kingdom done.  In the margins I had several opportunities to still run a ministry or go freelance as I transitioned away from being a CEO but I knew that in this next season there was a specific role and task that God wanted me to fulfill and that as part of it, I was to serve a movement rather than to create one.

My conclusion is this; as servants of God, who have signed up to follow him where ever he tells us to go and do whatever he asks to do, we are in a sense his chess pieces to move as he sees fit.  Therefore, if as the overall boss of a church, ministry or business (as this applies to all followers of Christ) you aren’t able to move at his request and serve another leadership and lay aside some of your current privileges or status, then perhaps you shouldn’t have been a CEO type in the first place?

As for watching a new team leadership taking on CVM, I plan to delight in seeing things change and develop from a place on the board of trustees.  I pray that I will be an encouragement and strong support as they do things differently and progress CVM in ways that I couldn’t have done.  Thats what its all about.  I suspect that when we die and meet Jesus, the status or position we had in the eyes of men and women will count for very little indeed!

There’s a wealth of material out there to read and study when it comes to leadership. In fact, we’re drowning in resources. I thought however I would smash down the lessons I’ve particularly and personally learned in 2012. This isn’t hugely thought through either. Its an instinctive list, most of it come to the hard way (by messing up and having to learn from it quickly).

1. As a leader you have to sometimes make tough decisions that will hurt you and hurt others. No matter how hard you try to avoid the latter, its an inevitable consequence of being the leader. The fact that people may get hurt doesn’t make those decisions wrong. If you’re not prepared to face up to that inevitability then perhaps the role isn’t for you. You won’t be the winner of any/many popularity contests…

2. A leader needs to learn to keep his/her dignity in the face of criticism whether public or not. Avoid using your ability to speak out widely to defend yourself or attack critics from the front. If you defend yourself against an unfair critic you are effectively making them your judge. Theres a couple of useful proverbs; A wise person overlooks a critic but a fool speaks too much! Thats not to say that we shouldn’t have our lives spoken into or receive feedback. I’m talking about criticism thats toxic and sub kingdom. Let it wash over the top of your head.

3. You have to learn to accept that not everyone will have all the facts about a decision you’ve made and it maybe right that hardly anyone ever does. You just have to suck up the pain.

4. Anything new or fresh is liable to be criticised.

5. In a ministry context, I’m still learning to believe that God pays for what He orders. Never put money before the vision or the fear of finance will suffocate it.

6. Persistence pays off.

7. Constantly reinforce the values and vision of what your organisation is about.

8. Loyal staff who own the vision you set before them are worth more than their weight in gold. Find ways to reward and praise.

9. A gifted and talented person still may not fit the culture of your organisation. Chose people very carefully and be robust in your selection processes. Find out if they are on the same page as you. Do they have the same values? Are they of good character and willing to be led and make sacrifices for the ministry you are engaged in or is it all on their terms first?

10. Leadership involves constant risks. But as I keep saying, nothing ever happened to someone who didn’t have a go.

Last night, I gave the plenary session talk at the Mainstream conference in Swanwick.  My theme was an analysis of how we live a Holy Spirit empowered ministry in our programme driven times.  Here are some bullet points of the hour long talk!  AS you can imagine, this is the very bare bones…

1) Do we create opportunity for spontaneity within the programme?

2) Are we under the governance of man or the governance of the Holy Spirit?  Who is really leading our ministry?  We should seriously consider this question.

3) What defines us?  Our budgets and constitutions or Gods mission?  Remember, God always pays for what he orders and He has ordered mission?  Do not let fear define you.

4) We will miss the divine spark if we do not challenge our structures.

5) 1Cor 16.  Paul is vague about his plans but certain about his faith.  We have become vague about faith but certain with our plans!

6) Do not be afraid to ditch the program or allow for Holy Spirit led opportunism within the schedule.

7) When people start to wave constitutions at us and talk about the rules, perhaps its a sign that we are on the right track!

8 ) Beware insecurity.  We should be surrounding ourselves with people who out run, out gun, out speak, out lead us…Some networks and leaders have not handed over soon enough.  We should be thinking about the handover from the moment we start…

9) Are you obstructing a work of God through human reason and insecurity?

10) Are we living on the edge or staying comfortable?

11) If we believe in the power of the gospel to change lives and the glory and majesty of the Kingdom of God, why do we form committees to buy coffee machines?  Get serious about the right things.

12) Michelangelo loved to do sculpture as he said it was the nearest he could get to mimicking the divine nature…but that is not a patch on the beauty of every single person.  Our job as leaders is to release people and to see them flourish.  We are meant to be giving people a shot at goal, not be goal keepers!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Marianne Williamson

The full talk can be found via mainstream and hopefully we will get a podcast up…