As most of you know, my life has been full of change over the last year. In June of 2016, my family and I relocated from Dayton, Ohio back to Fort Wayne, Indiana. In November we planted a church. In December we had our second child. It's been a bit of a whirlwind. With all of this change, I've also been on a major growth curve. I feel like I'm constantly learning new things. Not always because I want to, but often because I have no other choice. Andy Stanley once said, "If your vision is worth pursuing, it should initially exceed your competency." I feel like this statement very accurately summarizes my life right now. This is challenging, but it's not a bad thing. It's causing me to learn and grow in ways that I never have before. With that said, I wanted to share a few leadership lessons that I'm learning in this season of life. I hope they can be an encouragement to you as well.
1. Spend less time building your brand. Spend more time building the kingdom.
There's a lot of advice floating around right now centered on building your brand, even within the church world. I'm not saying that it's all bad. There is some wisdom in working on your brand. The truth is everyone has a brand. Every church, every business, and every non-profit has a brand. Whether you want one or not, you have one. So it's wise to spend some time working on what your brand is and what you want it to be. Specifically, when it comes to church planting, there is a major temptation to pour a ton of energy and effort into creating a really great brand. From logos to websites, from social media pages to signage, from t-shirts to coffee mugs, if you aren't careful you can spend all of your time and energy on building your brand.
What I've found is that as much as building a brand matters, building the kingdom matters way more. And if you care more about your brand than you do about your community then your priorities are out of order. Honestly, this is one of the reasons why I've laid low on this blog for the last couple of months. There were times when I went to write a blog, but when I asked myself why I was writing it, I realized it was because I felt like I needed to get a new post up to maintain my "brand." The truth is the kingdom of God is much bigger than any one person, any one church, or any one brand. So this is an area where I'm learning to focus less on my brand and more on the kingdom.
2. The type of leaders you surround yourself with is the type of leader you will become.
I've spent a lot of time studying leadership over the last year. One consistent theme I've learned from every leadership article, blog, or book I've read is that the type of leaders you surround yourself with is the type of leader you will become. I have experienced this to be true in my own life as well. So as I was stepping out to plant a church, I spent some time asking myself what kind of leader I wanted to become. Then I found some leaders who demonstrated those character traits and leadership skills and tried to get as close to them as possible. It has had a major impact on my life and my ministry.
Do you want to become a more humble leader? Find a great leader who is full of humility and learn from them. Do you want to become a more passionate leader? Find a leader who is full of passion for what they do and learn from them. Do you want to become a better communicator? Find a leader who is very articulate and learn from them. The truth is we are all learning from someone. So ask yourself these questions. Who are the leaders you are surrounded by right now? Are they the type of leader you want to become? If not, it might be time for a change. If so, soak up everything you can. Because the type of leader you surround yourself with is the type of leader you'll become.
3. People are messy. So love the mess out of them.
It doesn't matter what line of work you are in. People are messy. A common misconception people have about working in the church is that it's somehow not as messy as other lines of work. The truth is some of the messiest people I've ever met are Christians. We have just as many problems and challenges as anyone else. We are all broken people trying to navigate life, making plenty of mistakes along the way. So when you get a bunch of those people together (a.k.a. the church), things can really get messy.
What I've been learning is that the best way to help people through their mess, the best way to help people get out of their mess is to love the mess out of them. It takes a radical kind of love to say, no matter what, I'm going to love you and care about you and serve you. It's easy to love people when they don't have problems. The hard part is loving people when they are messy. But that's when love really matters. That's when you really know it's love. And the truth is, I am just as messy as anyone else. So as much as I need to love the mess out of others, I also need them to love the mess out of me.
So what about you? What are you learning right now? How are you growing? What is God teaching you? I'd love to hear from you. Feel free to comment on this blog or to send me a message on social media or email. Thanks for taking the time to read this post. I hope it was an encouragement to you.
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