Identifying the ingredients of an enduring leadership culture will enable churches to sustain significant growth through an expanding leadership base.
Henry Klopp in his book, The Ministry Playbook, identifies organizational culture as “the behavior patterns, style, and practices that veteran members automatically encourage new members to follow.”
The outcome of recognizing and embracing specific behavior patterns and practices as it relates to leadership development will be the emergence of healthy leaders who model your church’s leadership culture.
“What does an enduring leadership culture look like?”
When I was asked this question a few years ago, I identified five ingredients that I believe are essential.
1. A commitment to life-long learning.
Leaders are learners. They never stop learning. They refuse to believe that once they have a position of leadership, the pursuit of learning to lead has stopped. Leaders in your church must have a passion for their own personal growth – spiritually and as a leader. For me, this has always meant that I am reading books and listening to talks that will help me grow. I am often attending classes and conferences or dialoguing with other pastors to continue to learn. And as I learn, I shared these learnings with my staff and board and leaders. This encourages a corporate learning culture!
Ask people what they are learning and share what you are learning.
People long for authentic leaders. Integrity matters. There must be an environment that displays who we really are as pastors and leaders. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being real. Leaders are watched and talked about. You can’t be fake. You can’t pretend to be something you are not. Many assume that leaders in the church are hypocrites, so don’t be one. Create an environment where who you are inside is more important than what you do for God.
Be an authentic leader and those around you will want to be authentic, too.
3. A servant’s heart.
Jesus modeled servant leadership. An enduring leadership culture needs to be based on a heart to serve others. Leaders can’t expect others to serve them. They have to be servants. If a leader views people as merely a means to an end or treats them as workers to accomplish the vision, he or she has failed to be a spiritual leader. Everyone has to sense that the leader is committed to serving the Lord, His church and His people.
Leadership requires giving oneself to others in service.
Spiritual leaders value personal accountability. They realize that ultimately they are accountable to God for their decisions and leadership. Because they seek to please and honor God, they appreciate and pursue other leaders who will help them to maintain high standards regarding character and conduct. They welcome questions of others and don’t view themselves as above accountability. They also ask hard questions to make sure the leaders around them are above reproach.
Personal accountability is mutually required and pursued.
5. Intentional development.
Healthy leaders reproduce healthy leaders. They are passionate about discipling and mentoring emerging leaders. They keep looking for ways to raise up leaders and give away their ministry responsibilities to those whom they have trained. They are intentional in this process and see clearly the need to develop leaders at every opportunity.
Churches grow and expand as leaders become intentional about raising leaders.
Churches today need an enduring leadership culture that develops leaders who embrace these behaviors and practices. As it’s been said, “Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team.” It starts with the church planter or senior pastor. He is critical to the leadership development process. He cannot delegate this responsibility to another staff member or to the church board. He can’t expect to simply recruit qualified leaders.
Jesus didn’t do it that way – and neither should we.
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