by Brad Thomas
“You’re a leader even if you don’t feel like a leader. Even if you don’t think you’re a leader. People are watching you because you’re on stage in a leadership position. Therefore, you are a leader. Be conscious of that. Act like that. You ARE a leader.” This was a common word of encouragement I gave to my worship teams during my days as a worship leader at our church. I was reminding the team that people watch our lifestyles and actions and form opinions – both good and bad.
What kind of impression are we as churches and pastors leaving for our communities in the way we handle our finances?
I Timothy 3 discusses the qualifications of church leaders and pastors. The very first requirement, in verse 2, is to be “above reproach.” The Greek word here means “not to be laid hold of,” or, in laymen’s terms, “above legitimate criticism.” This includes our business dealings and personal finances. How does this look from a practical standpoint?
Do you as a pastor or leader:
- Have a family or personal budget?
- Live within that budget?
- Pay your bills on time?
- Practice honesty and integrity in your business and personal dealings?
Does your church:
- Have a budget?
- Live within that budget?
- Pay its bills on time?
- Practice honesty and integrity in its business and community dealings?
Our communities (and more importantly God) are watching us. We are community leaders whether we feel like it or not. We are community leaders whether we think we are or not. As pastors, leaders and churches we are in community leadership because of our position. Be conscious of that. Act like that. You ARE a leader in your community! Lead with financial integrity!
By Cary VanKampen
Recently, I spoke with my daughter Emily on the phone. The topic of leadership came up as she is beginning a new position as Dicipleship Administrator for her campus dormitory at Evangel University. Her supervisor asked that she enlist six leaders to be in charge of small groups. She was advised not to take one of these positions herself, but that she could co-manage one if she liked. (As she pursued the assignment, she found people more likely to commit if they could partner in leadership.) The campus pastor had apparently recognized certain qualities in Emily that he wanted her to multiply in those whom she enlisted as small group leaders. This is part of leadership: good leaders surround themselves with good leaders and let them lead.
But what if you are thinking, We don’t have any good leaders? We need to develop them from those we have. Emily’s supervisor has met with her frequently to dialogue and advise her. She knows her strengths and encourages her to make the most of them. Emily, in turn, has chosen to co-lead a small group with another student who was willing to commit if there would be someone with whom she could partner. She knows that she is not in this alone.
As a dad, I reminded her that in a leadership role, you will certainly have influence – and that motive for leading is only pure when it is rooted in servanthood, rather than influencing. As our hearts of love and compassion for others motivates us to lead, influence is a natural byproduct. Healthy influence comes from a pure heart. If our motivation to lead comes from a desire to influence we won’t have as great an effect on those we lead.
If we lead by example, and walk along beside those we lead, we can develop leaders who share our heart and vision. As we serve together, we can recognize and encourage them in “The way they should go,” (Proverbs 22:6); the way they were created to go.
Jesus set that wonderful example by walking through life with his disciples, developing pure hearts in them from his love and compassion for them. And when He left, He didn’t leave them all on their own. He sent them the Comforter to work with them and in them as they enlisted others to develop for leadership by walking alongside them.
Cary and Wanda document their journey through life on their blog www.vankampenjourney.wordpress.com.
by Julie Schaal
In my work with Iowa Hospice, I was recently entrusted with the task of breaking the news of a loved one’s impending death to four young children. I tried to prepare for this event, but found myself frozen. I reasoned that perhaps a family member or another qualified hospice team member could facilitate this. Oh how I prayed for wisdom! I needed it quickly. God responded to me.
The Lord reminded me that responsibility is my response to the abilities He has given and developed in my life. Even though I did not feel prepared or qualified, God spoke to me that I was. He had, in fact, placed me in this position of both responsibility and ministry.
God has given you a deep reservoir of strengths and gifts. The Bible details a variety of gifts that we are to use to serve others, administering God’s grace. (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12; Ephesians 4). In Gallup’s research into human potential over the past 40 years, the data is overwhelming: you will be most successful in whatever you do by building your life around your natural, unique combination of abilities as opposed to your weaknesses. For example, I am right-handed. I can stil write with my left hand, However, my writing will never be as lovely unless I am writing with my dominant hand.
How are you responding to the abilities God has given you? Are you using them in all their strength and power? Specifically, maybe you need to stop doing things outside your gifting and concentrate solely on ministering in your strengths and abilities.
Our response to the abilities God has given us determines our level of responsibility. Even in those defining moments, when God places you in a position to exercise your faith, you will find yourself stretched, but prepared to trust Him more in the abilities He has given YOU!
Julie works for Iowa Hospice in Bereavement and Spiritual care and co-pastors Carroll First Assembly of God along with her husband, David Schaal. She has a BA in Psychology and a Master’s in Organizational Leadership. She and David live in Carroll (as California transplants!), along with their four children, Reagan, 19; Allie, 17; Hunter, 14 and Jack, 12.
This article originally appeared in the first edition of the IMN Women’s newsletter. To receive this monthly newsletter, fill out the form below.
by Heath Adamson
A Rolls Royce is an extremely expensive automobile. What makes it so expensive? Why would a person pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for a car? It takes 6 months to make and is handmade by 4,500 people. Only 63,000 people in the U.S. can afford one. It receives 10 coats of hand sprayed paint. It has a one million mile odometer. It only takes 13 hours to build a Toyota. Toyotas are great cars but they don’t drive for a million miles. In the automobile industry, the key to going the long haul is paying attention to detail, putting in the time and doing things with excellence. I believe that excellence is a determining factor to our leadership making it to the “millionth mile.” Often, royalty travels from afar to witness excellence. This is evidenced in the story of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
“But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. “
1 Kings 10:7 (NIV)
The excellence of Solomon’s kingdom took the Queen of Sheba’s breath away. The way he developed his team, his facility, how he handled his money and how knowledgeable he was. all contributed to her astonishment. It affected the queen in such a way that she came to the church for answers. At the end of the day, we want to honor our God and King with our best. He deserves it. Excellence isn’t always being the best; it is doing your best with what you have in your hand. A heart committed to God is the key to excellence.
Historically, excellence has been used as a title of honor. It is derived from the word excel and means to be better or surpass. Excellence is a message that speaks into the lives of students, parents, communities and churches that what we are doing is important enough to take the time to do it well.
Excellence is doing your job better than expected. The quality of your product will be remembered long after the price of it has been forgotten.
Excellence is giving attention to the smallest detail. “Race horses that can run one second faster than the other is worth many times more than the others.” John Hess said “It is the small things that causes us to do well.”
Leading with excellence is a key in standing out for His glory in today’s chameleon culture.
The IMN September 2011 theme is “Lead!” Sometimes, as a pastor, I would find myself thinking, “If we just had some people, we could build a great church.” One day I realized that raising up people actually isthe work of the ministry. We are called to reach, teach and release people. The Holy Spirit working in the lives of people is the essence of ministry, and as spiritual leaders, we get to be involved in the process!
As pastors we are constantly leading on three levels. At one level we lead followers. Paul told the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1, NIV). Our lives must be lived with integrity before the people of our communities, so that they can follow our example with confidence.
At another level, we lead workers. In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus tells His disciples that the workers are few (most pastors can testify to that fact!), and He instructs them to “Ask the Lord of the harvest . . . to send out workers into his harvest field.” We lead ushers, Sunday School teachers, small group leaders, deacons and a host of other workers in our churches. The leading-of-workers process includes specific training for specific tasks. The better we lead workers, the more efficient the ministry of our church will become. This is a critical process for our congregations. Without workers there will be no harvest. More workers, more harvest.
At a third level, we lead leaders. This may be the most challenging level of leadership. Developing “high octane” leaders and keeping them on mission is not for the faint of heart! Yet leadership on this level produces the most effective ministry. This is the place that ministry moves from addition to multiplication. Paul describes this level of leadership in Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV): “So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
“14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Once again, as I read that text, something ignites in my heart. What a beautiful picture of a healthy local church! Every community in Iowa deserves that kind of a healthy expression of the kingdom of God. A church that is growing, built up in love, with each part doing its work.
God is working through you to build His kingdom. Keep leading on all levels!