In the peak of his domination, Mike Tyson gave one of his most memorable quotes when reporters were telling him about how his opponent planned to deal with Tyson's unprecedented power.
Management guru Peter Drucker also shows us how important it is to keep who we are at the forefront rather than rely on what we say (or plan).
In leadership it's very easy for us to come up with strategic plans, to lay out goals, and to develop a methodology for achieving our vision. But what's harder (and in the end more necessary) is to influence the culture of our ministries.
The connections of those quotes extend way beyond boxing into every aspect of life. We all know what we want to do until we're hit with adversity. And we know that who we are is much more than what we say. So how do these connect to our ministry leadership?
1. Who > What - As leaders, we must remember that our primary focus is on people. We're not developing programs, we're developing people. We're not building a "mini-empire," we're stewarding the Kingdom and the Church of people Jesus loves. Strategy is important. We need a plan. Entering into something blindly in the name of faith is just as stupid as jumping into an empty pool hoping it will fill up. But our greatest emphasis should be on developing people, leading them into greater Christlikeness.
2. Be Flexible - A few years ago I watched a special on the unveiling of George W. Bush's Presidential Library. And in the interview, he commented about his initial plans for domestic & foreign policy. All that changed with 9/11, and he instantly became the face of the war on terror. When we develop long-range plans, cultivate strategy, and build intentional routes towards Kingdom growth, we have to be willing to adjust. A community tragedy occurs. A staff member gets fired for sexual immorality. A giant subdivision and retail complex is announced within walking distance. Any of those can radically change the course of our leadership. Good leaders adjust, bad leaders double down.
3. Lead Collectively - We're always going to do more together than we ever could apart. And it's not only helpful but wise for leaders to bring others into the process. Decisions made from a group have greater buy-in, they help shape an underlying culture, and there's someone else out on the limb with a chainsaw with you in case it flops.
4. Depend on God - If we have a successful ministry without an increasing dependence on the power of God, we've built a lovely kingdom for ourselves. That's the difference between a spiritual leader and a Fortune 500 leader. Spiritual leadership requires an inherent trust and dependence on a wisdom and direction greater than yourself. Ministry leaders joining together in prayer and dependence on God's wisdom and leadership demonstrate the most important rule of ministry leadership: It's not about you.
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.