In yesterday’s post I shared some key leadership lessons I’ve learned in my seven years at Seacoast Church. Here are a few more to add to that list.
- LESSON #4 – Dream Big and then Dream Bigger. Before I came to Seacoast I felt like I had a big vision for how God wanted to use my life. But being in this environment for this long has expanded my thinking far beyond what I ever imagined. I will never forget the first Management team meeting I attended where Pastor Greg talked about his vision. Everyone in the room acted like it was normal, but for me it was mind blowing and way beyond my comprehension. In fact, it was “seemingly impossible”. But I’ve watched God provide again and again in miraculous ways all because Greg and the Seacoast staff believe God for the impossible. Every weekend at the end of every service, at all 13 campuses the Campus Pastor closes the service by reading Ephesians 3:20-21 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Greg and the staff at Seacoast believe this to the core and as a result have witnessed the reality of this promise on a regular basis.
- LESSON #5 – Failure is a necessity for success. When other churches come to learn from Seacoast it seems that we share more stories about what we’ve done wrong than what we’ve done right. The willingness to try and fail has lead to a great deal of wisdom and positive outcomes. I’ve learned that the strongest successes are built on a series of failures. Failure processed correctly produces greater wisdom than easy success. Don’t allow a fear of failure cause you to miss the opportunity to learn, grow and increase your understanding. Unfortunately many leader are embarrassed and try to hide from or cover up failure rather than allowing the organization to learn from it.
- LESSON #6 – Be willing to change. Okay, Greg will correct me on this one because he says, “We don’t change anything at Seacoast, we only make adjustments.” But the adjustments I’ve observed over the years are what has kept Seacoast relevant, growing and life giving. Some of the changes work, some don’t…but remember failure is a necessity for success. All of us here will admit that sometimes we change too much, too fast, too clumsy BUT we change in order to stay relevant and continually reach people with the Gospel.
Recommendation: Don’t wait until you leave your organization to learn positive lessons from it. Make your own list today!
Change is difficult and requires skillful leadership to navigate it well. Sometimes it feels like ninety percent of a leaders job is producing change while ninety percent of people don’t like change! So when a leader enters into the dangerous waters of change he must move wisely. As you consider the next change you’re going to initiate ask yourself the following questions…
CHECKLIST FOR CHANGE…
- What problem am I trying to address by making a change? (Do others see this same problem?)
- Have I taken the time to build relational equity so others will trust and follow my leadership through this change?
- Have I enlisted the support of key influencers in the organization to act as ambassadors for the change?
- Have I listened to others opinions and understand the objections to the change?
- Have I made the purpose of the change clear?
- Have my team and I prayed for wisdom and sought godly counsel regarding this potential change?
- Have I laid out a reasonable timetable for the change? (Often leaders try to make changes too fast)
- Do I have a plan for effectively communicating the change?
Are you about to make a major change? What is your next step?
Frustrated with your career? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Unhappy with your marriage? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Dissatisfied with your physical condition? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Stuck and can’t move a project forward? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Discontent with your walk with God? If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
Perhaps it’s time for a change.
Things change. I don’t always like change (unless I am the one initiating it). I sat with a young leader the other day and told him, “Ministry is changing, the tools are changing, the strategies and styles are changing and I’m no longer the one initiating the change.” I told him, “It’s primarily your generation that’s innovating.” I’m 47 years old and I find it fascinating that this next gen leader doesn’t live in my world…I now live in his. I’m having to adapt to the changes his generation has brought to ministry.
I remember the days, when I was in my early 20’s and felt compelled to “do church” differently. Now it‘s my son’s generation who feels compelled to bring about change. So older leaders, like me, we have a choice. What will our Change Reaction be? Will we be Critical, Cautious or will we earnestly Champion change?
I want to be an early adopter when I hear my son say, “Dad, I want to do it different than you.” I want to support next gen leaders when they say, “I feel compelled to take a God-sized risk.” I want to be a Champion for those who drive the Gospel forward in innovative, creative and imaginative ways.
So I have to be careful with my words anytime someone says, “I have an idea.” In Proverbs 16:23 Solomon says, “A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” The Hebrew word for guide is sakal, which means to look upon and to ponder. It has the idea of being very intentional in our speech.
As I grow older I am realizing that part of my role is to discern what God is doing next, identify who He is doing it through and be very intentional in my encouragement, support and in doing so champion God-initiated change.
Are you criticizing change or are you a champion of change?
Price Pritchett said, “Change always comes bearing gifts.” It doesn’t always feel that way, especially when you’re the one introducing the change. As leaders we see the possibilities, the potential and the prize at the end of the change. But it’s not always so easy for followers to see what we see.
While we think of the Critical response as the most dangerous, I believe there is a second type of change reaction that is actually a bigger threat to the change process: The Cautious reactor. We typically call them mid-adopters. They aren’t “critical”, they’re just hesitant, reluctant and uneasy.
Here’s the trouble, many times they don’t speak up. When we introduce change the Cautious reactor responds with silence, passive questioning and even a seemingly positive head nod. But deep down they’re not bought in. The leader who cannot “read the room” could be in danger. At least the Critical responder is verbal and you know where they stand. But the Cautious responder may unwittingly lead you to believe they’re with you all the way, when in fact they are not.
A wise leader has a sense of when people are with him. He takes the time to ask the right questions and to probe thoughts. He puts his finger on the pulse of their hesitancy. Instead of fearing it, he engages it and learns from it. And in doing so the Cautious responder offers us a gift. He gives the gift of understanding. In Proverbs 2:2 Solomon advised, “Make your ear attentive to wisdom, Incline your heart to understanding.” The word “incline” in Hebrew is natah, which means “to stretch”. When introducing change we must make sure we don’t run ahead to quickly but take the time to ask questions, listen, process and allow the voice of the Cautious Responder to “stretch” our understanding. Their perspective could help take our idea from good to great!
Don’t forget the middle adopter represents around 60-70% of our followers. If we fail to get the majority of our followers excited about the change then there is a high likelihood things will not turn out as we plan
How well are you listening to what’s not being said?
As a leader I want to see more early adopters in our world. Leaders change things…followers…well …followers follow change. So it can be very frustrating to a leader when he introduces change and it’s met with a less than favorable response. But wise leaders have an appreciation for the various change reactions. There are basically three responses to change, each one needed, each playing an important role in the change process.
First is Criticism – Many times change is met with criticism. It’s usually from the late adapter who has “concerns”. Typically this reaction creates awkward moments, uncomfortable conversations and raises levels of mistrust.
However, I would suggest that this is a valuable and necessary reaction. Criticism, especially done in the right spirit, can help improve an idea, identify the potential pitfalls, and give us wisdom. Solomon warned in Proverbs 19:20, “Get all the advice and instruction you can, and be wise the rest of your life.” This is difficult, but a leader must learn to look at criticism as a gift. It’s not easy for us as leaders to look at the weaknesses, faults or disadvantages of our idea. While we can’t let the critic stop a God-ordained idea, we can benefit from some of their perspective.
The critic also adds value in the sense that he tests the convictions of the leader. If you gives up because of criticism, then you may not have had the staying power to really bring about the intended change anyway. But if you endure through the criticism it demonstrates to all those who follow you the power of your conviction.
What is your reaction to criticism? Do you use it to add wisdom…or do you just criticize your critic?