Walk into any bookstore, and search for resources on leadership, and you will have a plethora of options. Usually, you will see attention-grabbing words like keys, principles, or steps in the title. You can read fantastic books written by some of the most brilliant people.
You want to read about leadership or management? I invite you to step into my office, and check out a book. No deposit required; just leave your name, and return it in two weeks. Believe me, I have more books on this topic than I would ever like to admit.
I’m not a man of many talents, just a lot of hats. I balance my time between ministry at Oasis Church and leading the project division for my company. I’m responsible for creating sermon series content, while at the same time, being responsible for leading teams to successfully bid and manage projects. To throw another ingredient into the mix, I also help coach and mentor churches/leaders alongside Pastor Jonathan Suber.
I would often ask myself this same question: “Could I lead these very different worlds successfully?” The answer is, “Yes!” I figured out that it doesn’t matter where you’re leading, every environment has one element in common: people!
The way you lead in the church can be the same way you lead in the boardroom. Before you stop reading, the answer is, “No.” I am not trying to convince you that you should bring corporate ideas and strategy into the church. I’m also not trying to persuade you to bring church leadership strategies into the corporate world. What I am saying is that the same problems we face in the church are often replicated in the workplace. Here’s what I’ve discovered in leadership:
Tolerance > Words
You’ve been communicating with your teams about the importance of being on time, and they’re just not getting it. My question to you is this: What are you tolerating?
We can be so desperate for help that we overlook key issues. As our desperation rises, so does our tolerance. We become so desperate that we allow our teams to rewrite the guidelines. We allow them to bend the rules, because it’s more important to have positions filled than to correct a simple issue.
Your team may hear what you’re saying, but they also see what you’re tolerating. One of my mentors once told me, “It’s not what you say, Jeremy. It’s what you tolerate.” To lead a healthy team, you must be willing to draw a line in the sand, no matter how desperate you might be. Otherwise, poor team performance will be the new standard. Tolerance will always win the battle against words.
Taking ownership is simple, but it requires courage. To stand up and say, “This is my fault. I am the one to blame,” is not for the faint of heart. It goes against our own genetic code. Woven deep into our DNA is something I would like to call self-preservation. When things go wrong, we automatically want to disappear. Who wants to take blame? A perfect example of this is Adam in the garden.
Gen 3:10 ESV: And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
When we make a mistake or if parts of the church are not operating at the level it should, we cannot simply hide. The very first step in ownership is coming out from the bushes, ready to address the problem head on.
When God asked Adam, “Did you eat from the tree?” Adam said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Gen 3:12 ESV).
Not only did Adam hide, but he blamed Eve for his mistake. When it comes to leadership, we must be the first to step out and take ownership. Great leaders will take all the blame and none of the credit.
Do Not Underestimate
Earlier this year, I created a reward-based idea generator for my corporation, a platform where employees can submit an idea to the company that would help improve safety, efficiency, and teamwork. The employee is then rewarded based on how far the idea is implemented within the corporation.
The system is broken down into tiers, gold being the highest. If an idea reaches the gold level, that concept then is implemented throughout the entire region. When trying to budget for awards that the employees would receive, I projected we would have ten gold level ideas in one year. A gold level idea would change the way we do business! Even though we operate in 32 different states with over 1,500 employees, a gold level idea would be difficult to achieve, or so I thought. We did a month-long pilot test to ensure the program worked. After the second week of testing, and much to my amazement, we had five gold level ideas!
I made the most common mistake, one that many church and business leaders alike make routinely. I underestimated people! I knew I worked with talented individuals, but I still put them in a box. I still put limits on what I expected them to achieve.
Your teams at the office or in your church are filled with gifted people, employees or servant leaders who are sitting on the very solution to your current obstacles. I fully believe the answer to your dilemma is right in front of you. More than likely, it’s hidden in the greeter who shows up each Sunday. It’s buried deep inside the person who runs the soundboard. They just may have the answer to the very thing that keeps you awake at night. As leaders, it’s our duty to cultivate and expose the greatness in people.
Know Who You are Leading
Every person you lead wishes to be seen, heard, and understood. They want to be known by name, not by employee number or where they’re serving. So, how do we do this? We learn their story.
Behind each name is an incredible story, where they’ve been and what they’ve done. It’s the victories and defeats they’ve experienced before joining the team. To understand the team you’re leading, you first need to get to the story.
Countless times, I’ve seen poor performance at work or a lackluster Sunday due to the right people being in the wrong position. Somewhere along the way, they were placed in that role based on need, not skill or talent.
When you know their story, you will know what drives them. You’ll discover the “key” that motivates them or the “thing” that tranquilizes their progress.
Another quality of a great leader – they always put their team in a position to win. You focus on placing each person in a position where their talents shine the brightest. The only way to have this information is to see, hear, and understand your team. Start by truly knowing the person, not the position. Might as well, you are in the current chapter that’s being written. You can have a major impact on the rest of their story.
Jeremy and Nina Tyner are currently executive pastors at Oasis Church in Round Rock, TX along with Jeremy being the director of projects for the Townsend Corporation. They also assist Pastors Jonathan & Stephanie Suber in mentoring, encouraging, and coaching covenant pastors around the nation. For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.