Pastor and Christian Leadership Resources

Are You Leading or Managing Your Church?

  • Russ Olmon President, Ministry Advantage
  • 2016 11 Oct
Are You Leading or Managing Your Church?

Leadership is a privilege and it should not be taken lightly. It comes with a responsibility to serve others with an attitude of humility, and how a leader influences and inspires others will directly affect a vision. As a leader guides and develops other new leaders, the vision should always be front and center to create a momentum to move the church forward. If any leader neglects the vision, the person is acting more as a manager of people instead of a leader. Being effective as a leader takes time, hard work and investment in others.

The Foundation of Leadership

One of the strongest, most important characteristics of a leader is integrity; it is the essence of who they are. It shapes what they do and say and builds credibility. Integrity cannot be assumed, inherited or faked. If you are an individual who lives a life of integrity, it will show up when you show up! Trust is gained in following a person of integrity who practices it on a daily basis. Once integrity is questioned or abused, the role of the leader is dissolved. A leader with integrity will be defined as a manager or a leader. Let’s examine the difference.

Managers or Leaders

Churches need both managers and leaders, but the church that employs a manager as their lead pastor will be probably be stuck in a place of maintenance versus a place where enthusiasm and ongoing growth is the reality.

All churches need to be managed, but thriving churches are constantly raising the bar for awareness of the community they are called to serve. Maintenance mode is where systems are maintained, but leadership mode is where creativity begins; risk, expansion and innovation are invited. It may take time to develop as a leader, but this is important in order to move the church forward. Constant need for improvement should shape the environment for new opportunities to impact the Kingdom.

When leaders share their vision with other leaders and the church as a whole, people take ownership of the vision and want to be part of the next chapter. Emotional and spiritual life change will take place in the lives of the people, because the leader has embraced and produced a changing mentality. The choices and decisions made by a leader, rather than manager, reflect the vision, values and future plans.

Change Agent

If a person, whether a lead pastor or a developing leader, cannot influence a church to change when change is needed, they are not truly leaders.

A leader should be equipped with power and authority, but it should be executed with humility. Leaders assume there are followers - without followers a leader does not exist. The goal of a leader is to influence and develop others and to exist for the benefit of the followers. The goal is not to be a manager of a project but instead a leader of people.

One of the goals of a leader should be to bring value people every day. At the end of the day a leader should be able to recall who they encouraged, inspired and affirmed over the course of the day. A leader is not going to make everyone happy, but can bring value on a daily basis to people’s lives. 

If you’re a leader you should know your own strengths and weaknesses. Leaders have confidence in their abilities but should also know their limitations and boundaries. Listening and complete focus is the greatest gift you can give to those you lead. People on your team and in your congregation want to know that you genuinely care about what they have to share.  This does not mean you are always in agreement, but being understood is something that is appreciated and valued by those who follow a leader.

As a person of influence, it is important for the leader to always participate in personal development. Raising the bar for personal growth will create a culture of continued self-improvement and professional development for your team. We are one body created for redemptive purposes. We cannot work alone and we need to provide leadership to those who follow. Working and serving together will impact the Kingdom through life change. Lead your people and leverage your influence.

GOING FURTHER: Free training modules are available online to help your team learn from successful models for creating a culture of intentional families. You can access these links here at Ministry Advantage.

Russ Olmon is President of Ministry Advantage.

Publication date: October 11, 2016

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