Sunday, January 17, 2016

8 Simple Words That Will Revolutionize Your Leadership

Last week I hit a major milestone in my life­, twenty years of leading in Children’s Ministry!   With a significant anniversary like that approaching, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned over the last two decades, both from the times I’ve failed and from the times I got it right.

While I’ve learned many painful lessons along the way, I was surprised to realize most of them fell into one of two categories, two sets of behavior that I believe we have to master to lead effectively in Children’s Ministry.

These two things are like the oars on a rowboat.  When we just use one, we find ourselves going in circles.  But when used together, these two leadership principles give us the power to move forward, and to help our teams and our church move with us. 

So what are these two magic ingredients?  What are the two things we have to do to lead well?  

Here they are, eight simple words:  

Lead like a grown-up.  Believe like a child. 

First, that means that means we have to learn to do the hard stuff.  As the writer of Hebrews says, we have to “press on to maturity” (Hebrews 6:1).  The hard stuff includes things like dealing with conflict, taking responsibility for our actions and controlling our tongues and our tempers even when we’re frustrated. 

As leaders, we don’t have the luxury of childish behavior.  Someone has to be the grown-up in the room.  And that someone is us. 

On the other hand, learning to do the hard stuff can also harden our hearts.  It can make us bitter and cynical and lead to burn-out before we know what's hit us.  That’s why it’s not enough to lead like a grown-up.  If we want to thrive in leadership, we have to believe like a child. 

That means trusting God for big things and never losing the wide-eyed wonder, awe and delight that flows from a grateful, worshiping heart. 

In the book Dangerous Wonder, Mike Yaconelli paints a vivid picture of the kind of childlike faith we were made to enjoy.  He writes, “I want a lifetime of holy moments. Every day I want to be in dangerous proximity to Jesus. I long for a life that explodes with meaning and is filled with adventure, wonder, risk, and danger. I long for a faith that is gloriously treacherous. I want to be with Jesus, not knowing whether to cry or laugh.”

When I drift away from this kind of faith, I’m like the church in Ephesus who left its first love.  The cure?  The same that Jesus prescribed to the Ephesians, “Repent and do the things you did at first” (Rev 2:5 NIV).  We have to remember what it was like when we first believed, reclaim our passion for God, and let everything we do in ministry flow from that.

When I do these two things – lead like a grown-up AND believe like a child, I’m able to lead in ways I never thought possible, but when I lose hold of either one, I find myself struggling, frustrated and stuck. 

Over the next month, I'll unpack each of ideas more in-depth and talk about some practical steps we can take to grow in both sides.

So where are you at today?  Are you leading like a grown-up and believing like a child?  If not, which one needs your attention?  What can you do today to make sure you’re staying childlike without being childish?

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