In the book First, Break all the Rules written by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman, they list 12 core questions the Gallup organization discovered that give organizations the information they need to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees. Pastors and church leaders would do well to regularly ask their leaders, volunteers, and staff these questions.
- Do I know what is expected of me at work?
- Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
- At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
- In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
- Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
- Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
- At work, do my opinions count?
- Does the mission/purpose of my company/church make me feel my job is important?
- Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
- Do I have a best friend at work?
- In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
- This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?
What questions do you find helpful to ask those who work with or for you?
For my second book
I commissioned Barna Research, Lifeway Research, and Christianity Today to survey almost 2,000 pastors to discover what issues can cause a ministry or a leader’s passion for ministry to die. I based my book on those findings. Out of those findings, four key questions emerged that every spiritual leader should ask him or herself at least once a year.
These questions can help us face up to areas, that if left unchecked, have the potential to kill our ministries or at best, drain the passion from our souls. Here they are.
- Do you have a safe person in your life with whom you can process ministry problems and pain?
- Have you looked deep enough inside to discover what truly bothers you about your ministry?
- If those who see how you respond to ministry problems were asked to tell you what they thought, would they say you need to make some major changes?
- To whom and how should you communicate your frustrations (your board, your staff, the church)?
You can learn more about my four books here.
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Peter Drucker, often called the father of modern management, was also a committed Christian. I’ve read several of his books on leadership that have helped me become a better leader and pastor. Several years ago Jim Collins spoke at Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit and shared some practical insight from Drucker.
He explained that after Drucker died, Collins spoke at an event in his honor and had the opportunity to step into his office. On one bookshelf someone had arranged his 35 books in the order in which he wrote them. Collins remarked that when he put his finger on the book he wrote at age 65, 2/3’s of the books were still to the right, written after he turned 65. Old age never slowed him down. Rather, his age seemed to spur him to even greater productivity.
Collins then shared these 4 leadership insights that Drucker made about great leaders.
- Great leaders have followers.
- Great leaders get results–they do the right things and Don’t worry about popularity.
- Great leaders know that leadership is responsibility, not rank, privileges or titles.
- Great leaders set good examples.
Church leaders would do well to heed his wise words.
What quotes from other leaders have most impacted your leadership?
Several years ago the church where I served celebrated its 25th year anniversary and we planned a big celebration. I’ve shared below what we did and then some key learnings about the importance of celebration.
What we did…
Our creative arts team created a fantastic experience that told the story of the last 25 years in all three of our services that weekend. It included several video testimonies, several ‘best of’ dramas, and some of the church’s favorite solos through the years.
I spoke for less that five minutes. I made a last minute change to can my 15 minute prepared message because I felt it would intrude into the moment. We finished the service with some incredible worship. We then held a picnic afterwards that provided lots of fellowship time for former members to mingle with their friends still at the church.
What I learned…
I reflected on this experience and believe these five reasons justify regular celebrations, whether you celebrate major milestones or small ministry wins.
- Scripture often tells us to remember God’s blessings (Ps 77.11). Celebration helps us embody that truth.
- Celebration helps people feel like they are part of a movement that is truly winning.
- Celebration helps mitigate a message that our ‘success’ culture often breeds that we don’t measure up.
- Celebration builds confidence in leadership that they are leading the church in the right direction.
- Celebration taps that ‘made in God’s image’ part of us. God created us to worship and when we celebrate His goodness, we feel most fully alive.
So, our 25th year anniversary reminded me that as a pastor I must lead our church to often celebrate our wins, even the small ones.
How do you regularly celebrate your church’s wins?
The story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10.25-37), one of Jesus’ most famous stories, describes the power of true love. In this story, Jesus contrasts those with big heads (the priest and the levite who had heads full of Bible knowledge) with one who had a big heart, the Samaritan. This story also offers clues about leaders with big hearts. Read that passage and then ask yourself these 5 questions based on the story and evaluate your own leadership heart.
- Do I serve others based on their needs or upon the potential value they may bring to my ministry or cause?
- Historically, Jews and Samaritans hated each other. Yet, the Samaritan stopped and aided the man who had been robbed and left for dead.
- Am I willing to be inconvenienced in order to serve others?
- The Samaritan had places to be, yet he was willing to be inconvenienced. He paid a price with his time and money because he didn’t view people as an inconvenience.
- When faced with an opportunity to serve another, do I use the excuse, “Somebody else will”?
- Research has proven that when I have an opportunity to help someone if I think somebody else will help, the chances I will help drop precipitously. It’s called the bystander effect.
- Do I simply talk the talk or do I walk my talk?
- The priest and the levite both were trained in the Scriptures, as are pastors. They knew the right stuff but it didn’t affect their behavior. They talked it but didn’t walk it. Genuine love for God is less about what you know than what you do.
- Do I serve so much that I lose myself in the process?
- In ministry, needs never go away and we can easily serve with few limits. The Samaritan served the man by the road and he kept healthy boundaries at the same time. He didn’t bring him back to his home nor did he obligate himself financially for the rest of his life. And after he took are of him, he continued on his journey.
John Maxwell is known for this saying.
People don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care.
Great advice for pastors and leaders.
Have have you made your heart larger?