Why Good Leadership Matters in the Church
My wife, son, and I recently moved. We didn’t just get a new house in the same city, we moved about two hours away from where we had lived for the previous seven years. During those years, we had bought a house, had a child, and become relatively comfortable with our lives. God called us to get out of our comfort zone several months ago, so we packed our three-bedroom house and moved into a two-bedroom apartment.
Our son, having known nothing but house living his entire life, still hasn’t gotten the hang of living in an apartment. Aside from the fact that he’s two and is going to act like it, we had also become accustomed to throwing basketballs and soccer balls around the house. Running, jumping, and the occasional loud singing were common occurrences in the house. Not the apartment. We’ve tried to teach him that he can yell and scream and run outside, but not in the apartment. Not, especially, during those Saturday mornings where he wakes up at 6am. He hasn’t quite grasped the concept. We have to continue our very frequent reminders to, “Use your inside voice.”
My son has experienced something that I think a lot of churches and organizations experience at times. They’ve experienced the freedom and empowering feeling of great leadership and for some reason, maybe a promotion or a move, the great leadership leaves. A move happens. What happens when the great leadership leaves, if there’s not a succession plan in place, is that people begin to see what they’ve been taking for granted. No longer do they have the freedom and confidence to operate as they had before.
The reason? Great leadership isn’t restrictive, it’s freeing. It’s not demoralizing, it’s empowering. Here are a few reasons good leadership matters…
Simply put, good leadership moves people forward. In fact, this may be the most glaring weakness after a leader leaves a church. Without leadership, people tend to settle. Much like sand to the bottom of a bucket of water, without someone to stir the bucket and keep things from getting stagnant, people begin to do just enough to get by. A leader, though, can inspire with vision and direction. They set the church’s eye on the current reality and the future hope of impact. Without good leadership, we see churches that often settle for where they are and that only dwell on past successes.
Leadership Promotes Growth
Leadership causes those it touches to push themselves and the church. I’ve been on and around a lot of church staffs. One of the things that separates those staffs is the leadership and how well they push people to stretch themselves both spiritually and professionally. The good leaders make an effort to train and continually encourage their staffs to do more and move with culture. The bad ones rarely give time or resources for growth in the staff’s departments. As leaders, we have to encourage those we lead to grow. We have to equip them and place them in areas where they’ll grow and develop and take new ground.
Good leadership helps align everyone in the organization. They become centralized around a single vision and a single process of accomplishing that vision. No longer is there debate about what’s best or what the point of the organization is when good leadership is at the helm. Leadership helps people to see the vision as a whole, rather than each piece being individual and reserved just for them. Leadership keeps the big picture in the forefront and can often deter egos from winning out over vision.
Leadership Provides Example
Possibly the greatest leadership attribute of Jesus was His ability and willingness to lead by example. He said to serve, and he washed the disciples’ feet. He told His disciples to fast and cast out demons, yet He did it first. He told us to lose our lives for His sake, but He willingly gave up His first. Good leadership provides an example to the church staff, volunteers, and attenders. It sacrifices. It works hard. It serves.
One of Jesus’ most popular parables is the parable of the talents. In the parable, Jesus encourages us all to invest what we have. To give what we’ve been given. To capitalize on what we have. That’s essentially the importance of a leader in the church. The leader helps people capitalize and be good stewards of the gifts and resources and mission the church has been given. A good leader is a good investor both in others and for others. Good leadership matters.