(11) “ EVERY TIME YOU SAY “YES”, YOU CAN ALSO BE SAYING “NO”.”
When I started out in ministry I wrongly believed that I was meant to be a servant to people, and that they had a right to my time. I was a “yes” person. But there came a time when I understood that although I was to be a servant to people, they were not my master. Jesus was my master and as such, was Lord of my time. I was accountable to Him. That proved to be quite a change in the way I used my time.
Gradually, I learned to order my time according to my priorities and the prompts of the Holy Spirit, being proactive rather than reactive. I learned that every time I would say “yes” to something or somebody, I probably was saying “no” to something else or somebody else. I gradually learned to avoid the “tyranny of the urgent” and to work as much as I could in my area of giftedness. I learned the importance of a day off, family time, reading good books (fellowshipping with great minds), quality time with God and setting margins (well, I’m still working on that one). I gradually learned that it was ok to say “no”. After all, unbeknown to me, I had already been in the practice of saying “no” in an indirect way.
(12) “BE A ROUND PEG IN A ROUND HOLE.”
John joined our ministry team as the Administrator. He had impressive accountancy qualifications. All went well for a season but gradually we noticed a shift in the way John was using his time.
When people would come into the church office, John would engage them in conversation and follow up with appointments of a counselling nature. Gradually his administrative role was becoming less of a priority and the whole process was highlighting a critical principle in the appointment of people to ministry roles; “People gravitate to their areas of giftedness.” This experience taught me two valuable lessons.
First, I need to serve in the area of my giftedness to maximize my impact in my church and recruit other leaders to my areas of weakness.
Second, I need to make sure that people have an opportunity to discover their spiritual gifts and natural abilities as they move along the church’s discipleship pathway and help them find their role in accordance with the way God has SHAPED them. God’s purpose for each person is that they are “round pegs in a round hole.” After all, “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” Romans 12:6
(13) “REMEMBER THE DRIPPING TAP”
Vision leaks! One of my great mistakes as a leader in my early years was to assume that once I had communicated a vision statement to people, they would enthusiastically embrace it. How wrong I was.
Unfortunately I have spent time with many churches that have had well crafted vision statements but little or no visible evidence of living out a vision in the world in which they have been placed. There were reasons for this. The leaders in the church were not modelling the vision. The vision was not clearly communicated. The ministries in the church did not live out the vision. The culture of the church was at odds with the vision statement and values.
But there was another critical issue; vision leaks. Therefore the need for the “dripping tap” approach. The vision needs to be front and centre in the life of the church; in its preaching, in the shaping of its culture, in its ministries, in its prayer meetings and in the framing of its budgets. Leaders should never assume that people are continuing to place a high priority and focus on the vision. That’s why they need to maintain a creative and inspiring “dripping tap” approach to the communication and living out of the vision.
(14) “THE GREATEST NEED OF THE CHURCH IS THE PRESENCE OF GOD”
It has long been my conviction that if we have everything but the presence of God, we have nothing. If we have the presence of God and nothing else, we have everything.
Perhaps the most sobering words a leader might hear are the words spoken by the Lord to Moses after his people had made gods of gold in his absence. The Lord said to Moses, “I will not go with you, because you are a stiff necked people…..” Moses said to the Lord, “If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here…….What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:3,15,16.
One of the great tragedies we find in the Bible is the tragedy of presuming on the presence of God when God has moved on. Samson is a classic example; “He did not know that the Lord had left him.” Judges 16:20
A great teacher of another era, A.W. Tozer said, “If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95% of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95% of what they did would stop and everybody would know the difference.” The greatest need of the church is the presence of God. When did you last pray as Moses prayed, “Lord, if your presence does not go with us…..”
(15) “LEADERS MAINTAIN A LEARNING ATTITUDE FOR ALL OF THEIR LIVES”
The apostle Paul, nearing the end of his life, writes his last letter to his friend Timothy. He is a lonely prisoner in a damp and chilly cell and makes a request to Timothy. “When you come bring the cloak I left with Carpus at Troas and my scrolls, especially the parchments.”
2 Timothy 4:13
I can understand his need for warm clothing, but I was challenged by the idea that at this late stage in his life he wanted his reading material. We might say, “Timothy, bring with you my warm coat and my books.” Paul was still committed to maintaining a learning attitude , right to the end. In these words he issues an important challenge that leaders need to maintain a learning attitude for all of their lives. Or to put it another way; when leaders stop learning, they stop leading. Leaders don’t lose their influence because they grow old, rather they lose their influence because they have stopped growing, and they have stopped growing because they are living on that which they had accumulated in earlier seasons of life.
So are you just growing old or are you growing on? And what have you been learning in recent times that you can pass on to others so you can FINISH WELL.
(16) “WALK SLOWLY THROUGH THE CROWD”
One of the most helpful breakthroughs that came to me in my ministry, came from management guru Tom Peters who coined the term management by wandering about. He observed from studies of successful companies that good managers spent some of their time getting out of their offices to listen to the problems and ideas of their staff. Gradually, I made it a lifestyle to walk slowly through the crowd to connect with my staff. And then on Sundays to walk around the church auditorium before church services began and to position myself in the church foyer after the services finished to connect with people. I then made it a priority for my leadership team to do likewise.
In the process I learned the following:
* Newcomers usually arrived early and were unusually encouraged by a word of welcome from “the” pastor or a leader.
* People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.
* My number of “divine appointments” increased the day I started to walk slowly through the crowd.
* If leaders are too busy to make time for the people, then they are too busy and they are not really leading.
* That this principle needed to become an integral part of the culture of the church.