Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Challenge of Leadership

As a Consultant to Seasoned Leaders I see many churches that are facing great leadership challenges. Unfortunately, most of them do not realize how great the challenges are.

Sometime ignorance is bliss. Wanting to get married in a fever is one level of bliss we all face at one time or another. Most people have been like Romeo and Juliet at some time in their life. The passion, thrill and excitement we felt was going to last forever and we could just "Live on our love!"

Some marriage specialists call that the "Ideal Stage of Love" and realize that despite its wonder and power, will not last forever.

After Ideal will come the "Real Stage" when the daily grind wears us down and dealing with money, house chores and kids makes us realize that love is more than feeling romantic.

After Real comes the "Work Stage" when we have to decide if our love is strong enough to carry us through the difficulties, hurts and raw emotions of disappointments and lack of romance. It is then that the Pastor's wedding talk on I Corinthians 13 starts to make some sense.

Joining a church has some similarities to falling in love. We visit and "fall in love" with the preaching, the music or the buildings. Everything is perfect and the feelings are sure to last forever. Unfortunately, church congregations and leaders are human, frail and prone to unfortunate lapses in judgment.

"Yikes" we cry. "I never expected Christians to be so, so much like my own family. They are so FALLIBLE!" This is the "Real Stage" of a church member's or staff member's life.

As Peter Drucker, the father of Organizational Change Management said, "The most difficult of all organizations to lead and manage are non-profits. And, the church is the most difficult challenge of all non-profits".

Churches are very complex organizations. The notion that a modern American church is just a simple "Church in the Wildwood" and can be led like a village church of the past is distressing. Even more troubling is the lack of wise leaders in mega churches.

Mega-churches are almost impossible to lead/manage unless they have a well trained team of systems' experts. Successful mega churches always have experts in administration, organizational development, vision, mission and strategic thinking. Pastors are not placed in the impossible place of management / leadership and preaching.

Passion and good intentions are good for road paving. Selecting a preacher to be a head of staff is as foolish as selecting the quarterback of a football team to also be the head coach. Such a decision will lead to certain failure unless the pastor has the wisdom to find others gifted in leading.
Ephesians 4 lays out the principle that God expects the church ot have a plurality of leadership gifts, talents and offices. St. Paul mentions Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers. I think the list is incomplete and we can expect to find other gifted and dynamic leaders to lead the churches forward.
For example, I call myself a Coach and Consultant to Leaders. In an earlier era that might be a Bishop. I have no real "Authority" over others but I do exercise wisdom and counsel for many church officers. But, Coach is not in the list nor is Bishop.
Is you role listed? What other roles do you see that need to be added to the list?

Ps My spell checker is broken.

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