By Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress
- Delegating is key. An effective leader does the tough thing by releasing control of many aspects of ministry to other gifted partners. While guiding by example and by position, one must also learn to share responsibility with those they serve.
- Discerning the giftedness of those we minister to is a priceless part of the process of plugging others in and allowing them to experience the joy (and benefits) of service. As we observe the Body of Christ, we must ask God to show us where others fit and what they do well. Then we help them nurture those gifts.
- Don’t rush. Very often, leadership comes on board with visions, goals, and plans they are anxious to see in place. Remember, though, it takes time to build relationships, and draw others into our plans while earning trust and respect as a leader. Be willing to move at the pace required for that to happen.
- The Destination is unity. When ministry partners move toward a goal in a united way, the success of a project is assured. While there may always be some naysayers, a general consensus is necessary to work together, enjoying the fellowship and growth of a common pursuit.
- Disciple, don’t parent. When focused on a ministry goal, it can be frustrating when others don’t see its importance or don’t follow through on their commitments. But, grown-ups don’t need pressure, guilt trips, or someone doing their job. One ministry had a fun newsletter that everyone enjoyed. But it required a group effort of contributions, computer skills, and meeting deadlines. When it became obvious those things were not going to happen, the choice was made to discontinue the newsletter.
- Do what works. When setting goals and planning programs, recognize the differences in people, programs, and even spiritual maturity. For instance, one women’s ministry offered intensive 12 week studies that were attended by only a small number of women. When they tried a different type of six week study, they were able to reach a much larger group of women.
- Define events. People enjoy being able to call something by name. Try to give an upcoming event a title that describes it and conveys a sense of glad expectation. The topic of lifestyle evangelism becomes “Telling your Story”, and a trip to an unnamed location is a “Mystery Morning”. The naming of events also helps tremendously with verbal and visual announcements.
- Distribute accolades. Be generous with appreciation, acknowledgement, and encouragement. Expressing thanks, both privately and publicly, to those who have contributed to ministry (or who just need to be recognized) should be considered a regular part of a leader’s responsibilities.
- Deflect both praise and criticism. Just as many complaints and much murmuring can be unfounded and unworthy of response, so praise is pleasant, but only to be acknowledged and released. With an open heart and willing spirit, ask God if the criticism has any merit at all and respond accordingly. When praise comes, remember where glory goes and Who is the source of all we are and accomplish.
- Determine to let God lead the leader. It is easy to get caught up in the pace of activity and leadership and forget Who is in charge. Nothing of any worth is accomplished without the power, direction, and wisdom of the One who we serve. his grace, his mercy, and his love will accomplish his purposes in us, in the hearts of those we serve, and in the church and lives we hope to impact.
Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress is a freelance writer and conference speaker. Her newest book release is Taking Back Christmas and Other Family Celebrations, available at www.writingforhim.com . Lettie loves clip-on earrings, outside cafes, and hiking the trails in her TN mountains.