I spent twenty years in corporate finance, I spent 29 years in the Coast Guard Reserve, 4 active duty during the War On Terror, four years as a pastor and a modest amount of sports participation. I certainly don’t speak on leadership as an expert. But I certainly do try to keep growing and learning and trusting that God will put me where He wants me and equips me to be the leader I should be.
So maybe when I go back to a good article that I see on leadership, it is to share something that both of us need to continually remind ourselves of and work on. All the areas that I’ve participated in require meaningful leadership. I’ve seen real live examples of good, sometimes great leadership and likewise really poor. While most people don’t think of pastoral ministry as an area of leadership, there’s no doubt in my mind that ministry requires leadership skills. The challenges to ministry require many skills and in an era that sees more challenges and antagonism then ever to Christianity, ministers must be better leaders then ever. The church has done enough damage to itself as the result of weak, vacillating and accomodating ministry, now more than ever pastors need to stand up as leaders for Christ and for those who trust them with ministry.
“Inc Magazine” is a great source of managerial and leadership information and an article by Peter Economy is a great reminder of the skills necessary for successful leadership (http:///www.inc.com/peter-economy/leadership-how-to-get-from-good Mar 14, 2014). In summary lots of effort, relentless pursuit of knowledge, constant practice and willingness to accept failure. Having had three different careers, the need for continual study, read, go to seminars and further education are a requirement, it doesn’t take much to fall off the beam.
Vision – Christian ministry should be an obvious area of having a vision, come on, God gave us His revelation in the Bible. If you can’t work from there for vision, you may want to reconsider ministry as a career. Now obviously ministry takes place in different environments, so your vision has to take into account facility, neighborhood, resources, but always has to be to the glory of God and to make disciples of those in your parish.
Communication – Ministry is teaching me over and over you have to use every means of communication available, you have to repeat your message over and over, even when people are begging you to stop and when your sick of hearing your own voice, you repeat your message again.
Collaboration – I’ve had a few opportunities at collaboration with people who aren’t in my church and in areas that you’d think might exclude the church. Despite what an antagonistic media and other aspects of the culture try to propagandize, business, education, government, sports almost anything you can think of benefits from leadership in ministry. Too often those in the church are easily intimidated and chased away from the arena. Pastors have constitutional rights too and there is nothing to exclude them from any aspect of society and with a scarcity of talent and resources anyone who tries to exclude them should themselves be removed from authority. The stakes are too high, while there is a lot of phoniness and lack of preparation by people who just hang out a shingle claiming to be a pastor, there are many, yea like me, who have extensive training and experience and it would border on negligence to exclude anyone with that background from other areas of society.
Decisiveness – There has to be a high level of decisiveness in ministry as much as any areas of leadership. While all leaders have serious barriers to overcome, those in the ministry have to endure a lot of challenges in probably a lot more respects. The public sector is probably the worst offender. While it is the “public” sector there is an element that seems to feel that their area in the “public” sector is their private domain. That has to be challenged by leaders in the corporate areas, religious areas and other parts of society. Religious leaders have to learn to confront those who loosely throw around nonsense that they don’t even understand. Too many seem to think that they only have to know slogans and cliches, and little substance. These people have to be decisively confronted and overcome. They do not own their office, if they do not function in that office for the public good and the church is as much the public as any group or individual, those people have to be removed and frankly prosecuted, they are undermining public administration, education and public safety.
Integrity – Ministers are held to a higher standard of integrity than anyone. Sure there are those who fail, but by far, I would compare ministers to ANYONE in ANY walk of life, by far. The world will continue to treat Ministers as mascots and with lightly veiled contempt, we have to push back, with integrity and often function under difficult circumstances with dignity and integrity.
Inspiration – Napoleon said “A leader is a dealer in hope.” The one thing that the world lacks most of all is hope. Oh the church has had its failures and has been less than inspiring in the last few generations, with many notable exceptions, but ministers have to start to assert the truth in Jesus Christ. The only hope of anyone, anywhere is in Christ. We’ve seen massive, almost cataclysmic failures in government, corporations, education, science, medicine, none are immune to failure and many of these sectors edge closer to a time that they need to either radically redo how they do business or be overturned and rebuilt. Christian ministry should provide inspiration, not just in terms of the Resurrection, but in terms of Christ being the only hope for the world in the here and now. More and more man tries to compose fraudulent codes of conduct and ethics, all of which they try to exclude themselves from or justify why they are special exceptions. Christian ministry has one mission, to faithfully proclaim the hope, promise and Lordship of Jesus Christ, that can take many forms, but the only thing that truly inspires is in Christ and we must be the faithful proclaimers of same.