building blocks (2)“When you share with me your vision, the first question I will ask you is, ‘Who is on your leadership team?’ The success of your vision is going to be determined more by who is on your leadership team than anything else. If you have a big vision, the first thing you need to do is to start building a strong leadership team.”
John Maxwell

For buildings to stand the test of time, they need to be constructed on a strong foundation. Just as in buildings, so it is with building a strong church or a strong organisation, the leadership team must be built on a strong foundation. More often than not it is true that as goes the leadership team, so goes the church or organisation.

Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that there are important building blocks that contribute to creating a culture that builds a strong leadership team that will determine the size to which the vision of the church or organisation will grow.

    This is the cornerstone that will impact all of the other foundation stones. To focus on leaders’ competence at the expense of their character is only inviting disaster. This was why Jethro told Moses to select leaders who were “men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain….” Exodus 18:21.
    Paul told Timothy to “set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
    Time and again we see a principle in the Bible where emerging leaders need to be tested before they are approved and entrusted with the responsibilities of leadership. This is particularly so in regard to an emerging leader’s character. Jesus explained this by saying that when a person is faithful in little things so they can be entrusted with greater things. Luke 16:10
    In other words, we are not to take shortcuts and promote people on potential alone.
    The other side of the coin to character is competence. Leadership has been defined as influence and the best way leaders will influence followers is by their giftedness and ability to model the life that they are encouraging others to live. The writer to the Hebrews said, “Remember your leaders who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.” Hebrews 13:7 Leaders can only take followers as far as they have gone themselves. Leaders must realise that ultimately people follow their example much more than their advice.
    And age does not have to be a consideration because Paul, in writing to his young follower Timothy, encouraged him when he said, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12
    Another important building block I discovered was the conviction that leaders in my leadership team had been called by God to serve in their leadership roles. This intrinsic motivation to serve created a resilience that caused them to be faithful in tough times. Leaders who are called realise that serving on the leadership team is not just a good idea, nor is it a stepping stone to another opportunity that may arise on a future occasion. Rather, it is an initiative of God who is placing them in a role for which He has shaped and prepared them.
    One of the greatest destructive influences of a team of leaders is disunity which is usually motivated by unchecked pride that creates a competitive and critical spirit. Even Jesus caught His disciples arguing about who was the greatest amongst them. Jesus’ response was memorable. He replied, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35
    Leadership teams flourish when team members come with a humble spirit that helps them see that they make their best contribution by putting the interests of other team members before their own and make it a priority to add value to others whenever they can.
    Perhaps that is why Jesus challenged His disciples at the last supper with these words, “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By THIS everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
    The chemistry that holds the leadership team together was of highest priority to Jesus. I wonder if Jesus was thinking of the well used sporting axiom that “a champion team will always beat a team of champions.”
    Right from the time Jesus first called His disciples to follow Him, we read that the building block of uncompromising commitment was going to be a significant factor in the success of His mission. He knew that if we make great demands on people joining our leadership teams we are more than likely going to get a great response. That is why we read that when Jesus called people to join His leadership team, “they left everything and followed Him.” Luke 5:11, 25
    I have learnt that a leadership team is only as strong as its weakest link and that it is important to spell out the commitment that is required when calling a person to join the team. The greatest ability a team member has is that of availability.
    Life in a ministry team should never be boring or monotonous. It certainly wasn’t for the twelve who were members of Jesus’ leadership team. They never were allowed to settle down into a predictable routine and it was unlikely that they ever quite knew what each day had in store for them. The Father was at work and the Holy Spirit, the most creative of all people, was guiding them as they went. Leadership teams characterised by creativity contain leaders who live on the growing edge, who believe that the best is yet to come, who are committed to adding value to one another, who never stop learning and who follow the prompts of the Holy Spirit into the future.
    So often today’s leadership teams are led by administrators, academics, managers and people of varying gifts, but not necessarily gifted leaders. As I read of the great leaders in the Bible, I find that they were all people of influence. It did not matter if they had a leadership title, for like David, he displayed remarkable leadership qualities at a young age. He killed Goliath and restored momentum to the Israelite army who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when all seemed lost. The leader of the leadership team reminds me of the captain coach of a sporting team.
    Like Jesus, they….
  • lead by example and model and teach all the attributes of CHARACTER and COMPETENCE that shape the culture of the leadership team.
  • make purposeful prayer a high priority as they seek guidance in CALLING members to their leadership team.
  • live as servant leaders and walk humbly as they lay down their lives for their leadership team in order that a CHEMISTRY characterised by sacrificial love will hold the team together.
  • are not afraid to spell out the cost of COMMITMENT that will be required for those who respond to the call to join their leadership team.
  • lead with a CREATIVE cutting edge that makes life in the leadership team an unpredictable adventure as the Holy Spirit guides them into a destiny that is transforming the world in which they live.
    Culture is the patterns of behaviour and values shared by a group of people. They are the building blocks that form the foundation upon which a leadership team is built. Spend some time now reflecting on the culture of your leadership team and identify your strengths and areas in need of improvement and set some goals that will strengthen the foundation of your team.

These are the eight building blocks that have formed the foundations upon which I have chosen to build leadership teams to fulfil the God given vision entrusted to us.
After all, “The success of your vision is going to be determined more by who is on your leadership team than anything else.”

CBC Anniversary Dinner Gov Marjorie Jackson Nelson 2005001 (2)

Rod with his wife Sue introducing the Governor of South Australia, Marjorie Jackson Nelson, to his ministry team and their partners at the dinner to mark the 40th anniversary of Clovercrest Baptist Church in 2005.