As leaders, we must keep growing. We are not yet fully conformed to the image of Christ (Rom 8:29), so God isn’t through with us yet. Sadly, growth is often very slow. Slower than I would like. But I keep striving, by faith, to move forward and grow as a leader.
There are three areas of my life and leadership that keep coming to mind as I pursue growth in godliness. Hopefully sharing them comforts you that you’re not alone as well as encourages you to intentionally identify areas where you need growth.
I recently attended an event where I heard a leader say, “Leadership is not about knowledge, but about courage.” That’s true. We often know what the right thing to do is. The challenge is having the courage to do it. The nature of leadership is about courage, because a leader is, by definition, taking people somewhere new. We’re “here” and we’re leading people “there” and it can be scary.
Whether it relates to my growing family, our growing church, the responsibilities I have in leading our residency, or a host of other things, I need courage.
Having been in pastoral ministry for about 10 years, I’m quite competent. I’m not an expert and have a long way to go (hence, this post), but I’m not a total ignoramus. In fact, I have just about enough natural gifting and training to do ministry fairly well without God. That’s terrifying. Additionally, I have some bents toward the practical and the pragmatic, leaving me prone to focus on the system or method more than the God behind all of it.
I’m thankful that God continues to put me in new and difficult situations that highlight what is true even in the familiar and easy situations — I need him. God is growing me to see and feel my need for him more and more. This often takes the shape of prayers directly expressing my need of God (here’s a song I sing often).
I’m a leader who equips people in ministry. This, by definition, means that I am always looking to make progress and I’m always seeing the holes in something that need plugged. These things are important. But they leave me prone to forget to encourage people. I’m not a natural encourager. But I’m working at it.
We all need encouragement, especially in ministry. The elders, staff, and volunteers around me are working very hard and facing many difficult challenges that come with leading and serving people. They need me to see the good they’re doing and encourage them for it. We all need a culture of encouragement. I think I’m making some progress here, but want to do even better.
It’s not especially fun to admit these areas of weakness that need growth. But when a leader admits his or her weaknesses, it’s never new information to those being led. So it’s better to acknowledge them, pray for them, and work toward growth.