My Leadership Development Wake Up Call

I remember when I had my leadership development wake up call. I was fresh out of seminary working as an associate pastor at Pawleys Island Community Church. I was young, enthusiastic and thought I could do it all. But it wasn’t long before I was overwhelmed and overcommitted. I was responsible for weekend worship, midweek teaching, small groups, Sunday school, outreach, youth ministry and the summer children’s program (I had a slight case of Superman complex).

After a year and a half of this madness I told Cindy, “They’re going to fire me.” She told me I was crazy, the church loved me and there was no way they would get rid of me. So I explained, “Oh, they’re going to fire me, they just don’t know it yet!” I was juggling way too many responsibilities and was about to drop the ball with all of them. My enthusiasm and inability to lead through others had painted me into a corner and I was headed for trouble. That night I couldn’t sleep, so I wrote down the names of the volunteers who reported directly to me. I was shocked when I saw the list totaled 88 people.

God showed me two things in that moment: First, I needed to make leadership development a priority and second I needed a leadership development strategy. That night I decided to build a wall of protection around myself by choosing seven key leaders to oversee the various ministries. From that point on I started pouring into those leaders so they could pour into their teams. For the first time in my life I truly started doing leadership development and it saved my ministry.

I look back at those days and see 6 signs that I needed a wake up call.

  • I was a doer not a developer
  • Replacing myself wasn’t even on my radar
  • Others leadership success threatened my sense of leadership security
  • I gave people responsibility but not authority
  • I had no intentional plan for developing or equipping leaders
  • There was a severe shortage of leaders in our ministry

Do you see any of these signs in your ministry?  Have you had your leadership development wake up call?

5 Replies to “My Leadership Development Wake Up Call”

  1. First I wonder what a ‘development’ pastor is? Hmmm.
    Excellent points in the blog. I am a second career pastor having been blessed with a very successful previous career that included owning/managing my own multi-office private practice in medicine. It is amazing to me the number of pastors/church leaders I encounter who have zero management/administrative skills. Some have pastored many churches and readily admit that this is their area of weakness but yet they have done nothing to achieve a level of skill or training that would benefit them as leaders.

    As a seminary student (in my third year) I encounter so many pastors to be who having no previous management experience or training either and they are not receiving that training in seminary either. A shame that in 96 required hours for an M.Div. there are NO required courses in this area. It is difficult to even identify an occasional elective on the subject.

    My husband (who manages a city) is constantly amazed at the so called ‘leadership’ in the hierarchy of our denomination (United Methodism) who have zero management skills as well. It is as if, as Christians and Christian leaders, it has somehow been seen as non-pastoral to be effective in management. Nothing could be further from the truth in my experience.

    I would hope that all of those lacking in this area would begin to find avenues to advance their understanding of effective Christian leadership. It is gravely missing and impacting our churches ability to be good stewards.

  2. Hey Leslie thanks for the comment. I went to DTS in the late 80’s. In my last year Dr. Howard Hendricks started the first leadership class. That was my first exposure to Ken Blanchards Situational Leadership. That one class shaped my philosophy of leadership. I do wish Seminaries would do more to equip pastors in leadership. Some like DTS are getting it and trying to do more. In my next few posts I am going to be sharing somethings I learned the hard way.

  3. I identify with #4 Igave people responsibility but not authority. It took me many years to learn this. To leave the authority with them is even harder. I have learned each year to go back and check myself. I am also up front with people and tell them that I sometimes struggle with giving authority and then taking it back. I ask them to come talk to me if they feel that is what had happened. This helps everyone involved. This is one way I am authentic in my leadership.

  4. Great post. I needed this today. I have been through a season of busy activity where I have focused too much on the here and now.
    I need to renew my focus on the future of our ministry and leadership development. It reminds me of Stephen Covey’s Quadrant 2 activities, things that are Important, but not Urgent. Leadership development is really planning for the future of the kingdom. Thanks again.

  5. This is a great post and I can relate to the “Superman complex” you spoke of. I attended a large church in MD before coming to Seacoast a little over a year ago and RAELLY over-extended myself in the first 4 years out of the 9 years that I attended. I was involved with the choir, worship team, and outreach ministry all while serving as a deacon and minister teaching in the church Ministeral Training School. I was fairly effective in all the ministries I was involved in but terribly ineffective at home and at work. I was finally pulled aside by an Elder that echoed many of the same points you posted today.

    My wife was pleased that I was serving God with so much zeal but felt like a single parent at the same time. Between my wife and the Elder, they helped my put things into proper perspective. I learned a very valuable lesson in balance from that experience, and I also learned how to say “No” LOL. Thanks for the great post!

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