21 July 2008


In his discussion of pastoral leadership, Bill Crawford identified three distinct attributes. The second attribute was

Average - I don't need to be excellent, outstanding, or special. I need to saddle up and ride every day. I need to be there on the sunny days, and the dark days, I need to be where the hurt is and where the laughter is. I need to be huggable. Average is a daily thing and I think it is good.

Applying the Marine Corps Leadership Principles and Leadership Traits, a leader within a congregation must SET THE EXAMPLE and KNOW HIS OR HER FLOCK AND LOOK OUT FOR ITS COLLECTIVE AND INDIVIDUAL WELFARE.

That means the leader must develop and demonstrate the traits of DEPENDABILITY, BEARING, COURAGE, DECISIVENESS, ENDURANCE, TACT, and UNSELFISHNESS.

First and foremost, the leader in a volunteer organization, such as a church, PTA, or homeowners association, must be unselfish. In our congregations, we are all working to further God's work here and now. We do not take on the leadership responsibilities for personal gain or glory. Most leaders find that to do the job right, we must give up more of our time and energy than we had first expected. That's OK; just be ready for it.

The leader must show up, dependably, every day. A Sunday School teacher who "forgets" that he is teaching this Sunday, an Elder who asks frequently to be excused from a meeting, a member of the choir who misses rehersals, is not a good leader. A leader who wants the title, but does not live up to the responsibilities of his or her position is not creating a favorable impression in personal conduct.

Leaders must exhibit the trait of courage in its most difficult form--moral courage. He or she must recognize fear of criticism, and nonetheless proceed in the face of it with calmness and firmness. The leader is also required, in some circumstances, to offer constructive criticism. Most Americans hate the idea of doing so. It is our cultural, live and let live attitude. That requires that the leader also be tactful.

Leadership requires endurance, the mental and physical stamina measured by the ability to withstand fatigue, stress and hardship. Occasionally, someone will claim the he or she "could have done it better." Often, when offered the leadership role, that same person will decline to take on the responsibility for the job, but the stress of being second guessed requires mental and emotional stamina.

Leaders must be decisive. In volunteer organizations, most of the people on a ministry team or committee are happy to offer advice and to work to accomplish team goals, but they want someone who will make a decision. And leaders in congregations make decisions every day. One of the easiest ways to destroy one's ability to lead is to become known as someone who simply cannot make a decision. (So long as the decision is a reasonable one, I have learned that it is usually easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission in a volunteer organization. Even if the decision was not perfect.

It is a fact that in most organizations, ten percent of the members do 90% of the work. In my experience, congregations are a bit better, but with proper leadership, they can be a lot better.

1 comment:

Adel Thalos said...

Another excellent post. I especially appreciate your comments on courage. This is something that is sorely lacking in the leadership of the evangelical wing of mainline denominations. Wishy washy is the order of the day.

Keep up the excellent work and thank you for your leadership.

In Him,