Desperate leaders need people more than they lead people. When you are under pressure, lack confidence, and not sure how to make things work, it’s easy to want more from your people than for your people.
This is not something any leader does on purpose. In fact, some leaders are under so much pressure they are completely unaware they want more from people than for them. If this is true of you, you may unintentionally make your pressure their pressure!
Let’s be blunt, if the offerings are under budget or you don’t have enough volunteers or visitors that you hoped for, it’s easy to panic. If things don’t turn soon people will get discouraged, and morale will decline. Then what? It’s easy to lose sight of what matters (salvation and changed lives) and begin to lead from desperation rather than a passion for your people to live a more meaningful, fulfilled life with God.
This causes you to preach different (desperation leaks), make decisions differently, and sometimes even treat people differently. You need more money, volunteers want more visitors, so you transfer your pressure to the congregation and that’s how you unknowingly can want more from them than for them.
Here are 4 ways to rise above leading from desperation.
1) Check your ego.
Don’t let your status drive your leadership. Your worship attendance matters, but what gets posted in social media isn’t the goal. God is for you, your team is with you, and your family loves you — that’s all you need. If you are tempted to impress others, you will short-circuit your leadership. Don’t cover the realities of your leadership and your church. Say it and lead it like it is. People can handle that, and will rise up to help, as long as you cast vision with hope.
When the waters are deep, don’t try to swim alone. Get some help. Gather a few trusted advisors who have traveled farther in church leadership than you and ask for their wisdom.
2) Take the long road.
If you go for the quick fix, you will always take more from the people than you give. Going for a big event, an emotional appeal, or muscling something forward may give a short boost, but it won’t help for the long haul.
When you step back, think, pray and plan, you gain the time you need to give people what they need to grow through the journey.
When you set your eyes on the future, take a longer view. Change your perspective from immediately fixing symptoms to a deeper more substantial treatment of true systemic issues. You move from week to week, to seasons and even years in your approach to growing your church.
3) Invest in development.
If you grow your people, they will grow your church; better and stronger people grow better and stronger churches. Help your congregation pursue spiritual maturity through a variety of avenues within spiritual formation, such as small groups and serving opportunities.
Spiritual maturity takes time, don’t rush the process. Equip your volunteers to serve well. Train them to be good in the ministries they serve. Develop your leaders to lead better. This can be as simple as gather a group of 5 -12 leaders or potential leaders. Select a book such as John Maxwell’s, 5 Levels of Leadership. Meet once a month for 5 months and ask two questions. “What are you learning?” and “How are you applying what you are learning?” That always works great. Keep it simple and consistent.
4) Focus on transformation.
Keep your eyes on the prize! People receiving Jesus as Savior and maturing in their faith is your primary purpose. We all agree on that. Measure the success of your church by stories of life change. Marriages restored, addictions broken, and stories of more inner peace from someone’s walk with God all help you focus more to be for your people than from them.