Yesterday I was listening to ESPN Radio while doing some admin work in the office when Herm Edwards came on to talk about the NFL. He's a former player and coach who is about as fiery and passionate about football and life as anyone. He's also an outspoken Christian who makes no apologies for his faith. Yesterday he was talking to Russillo & Kannell about player being interested or committed. You can check out the clip below.
Let's be honest, leadership isn't easy. If you're going to be in leadership, you have to ask yourself the question: Am I committed to this? Or am I interested?
Interested people want the prestige, the pats on the back, and the "power" that comes from being a leader. They want the position and the perks. Interested people look at what the position can give to them. And more often than not, interested people bail when they realize the cost of leadership.
Committed people aren't concerned with what the position gives them, but rather what they can give to the position. Committed leaders are the ones willing to take on extra work, forge ahead, deal with the critics, and press on towards the goal. Committed leaders recognize that with the honor and prestige of leadership comes a greater responsibility, vulnerability to criticism, and a bullseye on your back for Satan to attack you. But those committed leaders are the ones who also recognize that their leadership doesn't come from their intelligence, work ethic, cleverness, or creativity: their leadership comes from the enabling of the Spirit.
If leadership was easy, everyone would do it. If it depended on talent and skill alone, more people would step into it, people with more charisma, gifting, and ability. But just like how God looks at the heart rather than what the world sees (1 Samuel 16:7), committed leaders are the ones who are known by God, empowered by God, and willing to step out in faith to do what He's called them to do.
Follow those leaders. They'll take you somewhere.
If you're in leadership, chances are you've attended a few meetings. And chances are you've led a few meetings. And chances are when I say the word "meeting" you curled up into a ball. Because for so many of us, meetings can end up being a time-consuming, joy-sucking labor. And sadly, many of them are. This aversion to meetings led Al Pittampalli to write Read This Before Our Next Meeting, which spurned a revolution in meetings, something he calls The Modern Meeting Standard. Many of his principles carry over to spiritual leadership, so here are 7 ways to redeem meetings.
1. Have an agenda with a set start and end time - Nothing robs a meeting of joy like a meeting without a plan, or without a definite end time. If you want to redeem your meetings, making them profitable, effective, and worth having, know what you're going to talk about before you walk in. And with that, start the meeting on time. Participants are busy, so respect their time, they made coming to your meeting a priority. In the same vein, end on time. Nothing is worse than a meeting that goes on and on. When it's time to end, end. Leave unfinished business for next time, if it's worth bringing up again.
2. Don't Always Meet - Sometimes, meetings happen out of habit. They don't have to. If it could be resolved through an email, memo, or phone call, do that. When you do meet, make the most of it. But don't feel like you have to meet because it's "Meetings Monday" - If you can share it with an email, go for it.
3. Have an Action Plan - Ever felt like you left a meeting wondering what you're supposed to do? Me too. Lots of times. If you want to redeem your meetings, make sure you have clear, specific action steps to take as a result of the meeting. If what you're talking about won't lead to clear action steps, see #2 and send an email instead.
4. Make them Fun - If meetings are supposed to be a time to develop synergy, get people on board with decisions, and help advance the mission, they should be fun. I love meetings where there's laughter, where there's breaks in conversation to talk about our weekends and personal lives, and where we're able to take our work seriously but not ourselves. As a leader, you're the one who sets the culture.
5. Listen - When you're gathering with people for a meeting, it can be so easy to make conversation one-sided. But when you get people together, you need to let them have an opportunity to have their opinion, their perspective, and their insight heard. And when I say heard, I mean where you as a leader actually hear what they're saying. Nothing disconnects people from a meeting like feeling their contributions are irrelevant or unwanted.
6. Keep Conversation Going - The meeting time is limited, but you can have plenty of opportunity to build in your team members between meetings. Have informal conversations, text messages, and one-on-ones to build on the momentum, decisions, and action plans from your meeting. These quick conversations allow you to develop chemistry and rapport with your team as well, which I believe is the missing element of many church ministry staffs (check out Dream Teams for more on this).
7. Saturate Meetings in Prayer - The missing link from everything we read about conducting meetings from secular writing is prayer. And as spiritual leaders, we cannot simply take prayer and turn it into an obligatory "prayer request time" at the beginning of a meeting. We need prayer to saturate what we're doing in meetings, clinging to and depending on the Spirit to give us wisdom to make the right decision, to stay unified, and to pursue God's purposes for the ministry.
Yesterday I had lunch with someone who's become very dear to me, Russ. He's a 76 year old retired electrician from Boston, who doesn't use an R at all (Hahvahd, Heaht, and Cah). He's a widower who remarried after dealing with the loss of his first wife. We've got very little in common except our love for Jesus. And to be honest, that's all that matters.
Young guys in ministry, you need to find a Russ. You need to find someone older than you, who loves Jesus, and who wants to invest in you. You need a Russ to tell you stories, to complain about traffic, to argue football, and to look you in the eyes and tell you to make sure you get it right with your wife and kids. You need that older man to remind you at the end of his life what he's learned should be most important to you in the beginning. And young guy, listen. to. him.
I'm thankful that Russ let me know that he loved me and that he wants to spend some time investing in his young pastor. And for me, I'm so thankful I get to spend time investing in someone who's lived a much fuller life than I could ever imagine.
And guys, that's the beauty of the gospel. The beauty of the gospel is that it pulls together people who have nothing in common around the single most important thing that matters more than education, background, experience, income, or accent, Christ. The beauty of the gospel is that it brings together all these different people into something special called the Body. We need each other. And we need the Russ's out there. And guys, they need us too.
Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.... Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.
Titus 2:2, 6-8
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.