Several recent posts dealt with leadership issues, and today I would like to add another principle to that list. As stated before, more than sixty years of training and experience should, and I believe has, provided some insights into the whole subject of leadership. There are many things that leaders have in common. By saying that I am saying that the things I have been talking about here are common traits of all the great leaders I have known. Here is a partial list of these things:
· The person in the position of leadership is quite often not the real leader.
· Effective leaders have no problem saying, “I was wrong….”
· Real leaders think strategically and are able to communicate a vision—a vision developed from many hours of prayer and consultation with elected leadership.
· Real leaders hire the best they can find, even though who they hire may take some of the starlight from his/herself.
Today I want to add the issue of competency. While I tend to think of leadership in the context of the pastorate, we have all seen how incompetent people somehow rise to the highest levels of corporate, military, or government environments. It would be real easy for me to take out after government “leaders” who, I believe, are in over their heads. They simply do not have the skills to do the job they were either elected to or chosen to lead by someone who was elected. This nation has been rocked by the incompetency of academics who have been hired to lead huge government agencies, but who were no competent to do so. But, I do not want to spend m y times further denigrating government. Most people who read this blog are more concerned about their churches.
When I train Pastor Search Committees we spend quality time trying to determine what kind of pastor would be best for that particular church. Some want a great administrator, while others want a great preacher. Still others want a shepherd who will walk among the sheep and come to understand their needs, both spiritually and physically. Usually, I tell a committee to pick one of these three things that is most important to their church, because it is extremely rare to find a pastor who does all three well. The problem comes when the committee gets bowled over by a great preaching performance and start convincing themselves that this great preach is also good at the other two…or, at least, good enough.
When we finish talking about these three things, we talk about leadership. How important is it that the pastor, who will be in the prime leadership position, is a good leader? Good leaders will always consider the stakeholders (church members) in the making of decisions. Good leaders think strategically. They are able to lead in the development of a strategic plan for one, two, and three years. They are able to lead in revising that plan as needed.
I often ask Search Committees to develop scenarios about their church and ask pastoral candidates how they would respond to that scenario. That will let them know whether or not that person is actually a leader. The worst Search Committee mistakes are related to leadership issues. Bringing someone into a church who is not competent to lead that church is a disaster waiting to happen. Discerning that competency may be the most important thing a Search Committee will do.