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Leadership Lies

March 7, 2010
Yesterday morning we meet with our Strategic Planning Leadership Team.  
Each of these team members in turn lead a team of people looking at campus and buildings, finances, human resources, technology and a category we’ve been calling “teaching church.” As I learned in the course of the meeting, these teams are doing a great job, though it was a bit overwhelming to try and cover all the topics and issues they are working on. Hopefully we will be able to share some of this information with the congregation in the months ahead.  
Anyway, the meeting got me thinking about my own role as Pastor.  The people I met with this week have expertise and wisdom as well as education and experience I do not have. Because of their leadership we can go further, faster and with more clarity and confidence than if everything depended on me.  
This meeting got me thinking about how, not so very long ago, I would not have been very comfortable with this process, I would not have allowed so much of the process out of my hands. The meeting got me thinking about the lies leaders sometimes believe, the lies about leadership I believed and told myself. Here are a few:
1. I must have all the answers, all of the time. 
The leader who believes this lie will stress himself out and allow worry and pride to dominate the major part of his life. He will also erode the confidence of his staff as they are daily confronted with the lie.  It also leads to bad decisions and cover-ups of bad decisions (which are always worse than the original bad decision). Leaders don’t have all the answers, no one does but God. Leadership isn’t about having all the answers, it’s about getting people to go somewhere.
The more I do what I do, the clearer I am about how much I don’t know about the things I’m actually responsible for.  One of the most liberating decisions we ever made (back when we were getting ready for the first Christmas at the State Fairgrounds) was to begin meetings with the prayer: “O God, we don’t know what we’re doing. Amen.”
In this day and age, as the religious-church landscape is changing so quickly, it’s folly to make the pretense that you know much of anything, much less everything, about what you’re leading.  This does, however, lead to the next problem…
2. I can’t ask anyone for help.
I can’t ask anyone for help because then they’ll know I don’t know what I’m doing.  I’ll look weak.  Actually, of course, the opposite is true. Operating in your own power and constantly making stupid decisions and then covering them up or asking everyone to participate in the lie that no bad decision was made makes a leader look silly and definitely not a person worth following.  God has placed people in our life to help us out and when we ask for help people do not lose respect for us.  They grow in respect and will be far more disposed to support decisions in which they’ve had imput.
3. I can’t slow down, I won’t listen.
I can’t stop, I need to move ahead with my agenda and I am not slowing down to listen, or, for that matter, pray.  I’ve got to keep moving forward and working harder than everyone else and not stop to consider where others are, where I am and where God wants me to be in the situation. I don’t see warning signs, I don’t hear voices of caution or direction.  And that always leads to another problem…
4. I have to do it all myself.
I have to do everything, only I can do it and I absolutely must do it all by myself. A Pastor, who is a friend of mine, broke his foot shoveling snow in the recent storm, because he decided he needed to do it so that he could open the church so that he could say Mass and preach (you get the idea).  This attitude not only excludes help from others, ultimately it is removing God from the position of sovereignty over what I am doing.
5. The longer I do this, the easier it will become.
One Pastor I know says, “The easiest day I ever had leading this church was the day I arrived.” It only gets more complicated and challenging.  Its easy to think that there will be a day where leading will be easy.  It doesn’t happen.  I use to think that one day I would be well past my failures and fears as a Pastor. It hasn’t happened yet.
The longer I lead, the more desperate for God I should become, because it should be more and more obvious to me that I couldn’t have accomplished what’s been accomplished, I can’t do what we’re doing on my own.  I need all the help I can get and then I still need God.
Anyway, these are some thoughts I was thinking as a result of our meeting yesterday.  Amid so much turmoil and disruption in the larger church family to which we belong, in the face of so much potential and vitality in this local congregation it almost makes my head spin to try and figure out where it is all going. Its great to have a lot of help.

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