Why do some leaders in your church stick with you over the long haul while others tap out along the way?
I was thinking about this a couple of nights ago before a meeting with all of the leaders in our church - elders, staff, ministry team leaders (deacons), group leaders, advisory board. This particular meeting was an opportunity to both look back and celebrate God's grace to us over the past 12 months and to look ahead to where we want to go this next year. There are so many good things happening right now at Christ Community; 2015 has been my favorite year (and I've been here since 2004) as the lead pastor of the church.
I was working on my session during the meeting when I wrote this on the whiteboard in my office: 'The leaders who thrive at Christ Community are the leaders who love Christ Community.'
Leaders THRIVE In Your Church When They Love YOUR Church
Now maybe this sounds patently obvious to you. If so, how are you cultivating that kind of love for your church? Because I'm not saying that leaders thrive just because they love Jesus. Nor am I saying that leaders thrive because they love 'the local church'.
I have seen plenty of leaders come and go who both love Jesus and the local church.
They just didn't love the particular local church called Christ Community.
Leaders thrive in particular churches because they love that particular church.
But what does that even mean? Given that a church is intended to be a covenant community, I think I'm describing a love that is similar to marriage. A relationship that has stood the test of time. A relationship that has held together through thick and thin. A relationship that has experienced - and contributed - to the beauty and brokenness of the other. A relationship that remains faithful in a sea of opportunity to find a better partner. A relationship that has been forged by and fused together with the gospel.
So do your leaders love your church? Don't neglect the opportunity to celebrate the mystery and meaningfulness of the very real evidence of that type of affection. And if you want to cultivate a deep and abiding love your particular church, I suggest you help them love their work and make sure they know that you love them
Do Your Leaders Love Their Work?
I have yet to meet a leader who loves their church but hates the work that they do. Thriving leaders are passionate about their work.
But that doesn't mean that leaders always love what they do. And this is where the breakdown occurs if people think that their work should always be enjoyable or life-giving. Almost all of our work is difficult and brutal. I tell our team that 90% of any job flat-out stinks. That's the reality of broken people working together in a broken world.
So don't get caught in the trap of pain-avoidance in the work of your church. Instead, help fan into flame a love for why you do work as a church (the glory of God), how you do work as a church (your particular philosophy), and who you work with (other leaders) and for (the people in your area of responsibility).
How are you helping your leaders love their work?
Do Your Leaders Know You Love Them?
The difference between a good leader and a great leader is 1%. If a good relationship is 50/50, then a great relationship between leaders and followers happens when a leader contributes 51% of the value of that particular relationship.
Here's another way to frame this. If I were to ask the leaders who work for you whether you are more likely to ask for something from them or to give something to them, what would they say? Great leaders are generous leaders. They give more than they take. And they do uncommon things to communicate their love (and I don't think that's too strong a word) for the people who work for them.
How are you demonstrating your love for the men and women who help you lead the church?
Do The Next Right Thing
In the next 24 hours, demonstrate your love for one of your leaders with clarity and generosity. Do for one leader what you would love to do for every leader. And consider taking action towards a leader whose personality or particular area of responsibility can be easily overlooked.
At your next leadership meeting, run this idea by your team. How important is it for leaders in your church to love your church? How can you help people move the source of their passion from what they do to why, how and who they do the work with and for?