One of the most important leadership lessons I’ve had to learn is the need to reinvent aspects of my leadership during the different stages of growth we have experienced as a church.
I thought I was under pressure as a youth and young adult pastor of a large church but it’s clear there is a drafting effect of being a staff member on a team with a strong point leader at the helm. When you are apart of a team, you can get into the spiritual slipstream of the point leader, like a cyclist, riding in a pack, gets into the slipstream of the lead cyclist.
When I transitioned from youth pastor to lead pastor, the shift in weightiness of responsibility and accountability was very significant. Here are some ways I’ve had to reinvent myself as a leader:
- From highly directive to highly collaborative – When I first started the church with a core group of 13 people, I could make decisions instantly. Because the majority of the group were inexperienced in ministry, I needed to be stronger in my directives to shape the foundations of the church but as we grew bigger, I needed to consider the counsel of more people and include them in the decision making process. How I lead now is different to how I led in the early days. I recognized this by listening to people’s feedback and realizing if I didn’t change, I would limit the buy in of others. It’s not that I’ve abdicated the need to be directive, it’s that I’ve brought more people into the decision making process with me.
- From generalist to specialist – Like a GP at a doctors clinic I played the role of a generalist in the early stages of the church plant. As we grew I had to move from being all things to all people to being a specific thing to some people and empower others to be a specific thing to other people as well. Unless a leader makes the transition from generalist to specialist, the organization will be limited in its future growth. For me this has meant a greater clarity on my strengths and what I specifically bring that can make the single best contribution to the church. This reinvention must be reflected in your role and job description. For me the primacy of preaching and leadership are the twin towers of my role that must fight against the onslaught of the distractive attacks against it.
- From defined to re-defined – I began the church with a 52 page blueprint doc of defined ideas that I wanted to build the church with. Every year after that first initial year, I’ve had to redefine my ideas to fit with the ever changing context of the ministry and cultural landscape. This has extended to my theology. The demand for answers to people’s questions and my own wrestling with issues of God, life and ministry has forced me to delve back into the study of God’s word and bring a re-definition to how I think about God and the world around me. There has been a deepening of my faith in God and ideas about God through this redefining process.