This past week we conducted our annual LEADership Conference. It is an annual gathering of all of our ministry staff and volunteers for a time of vision, strategy, and leadership development. I wanted to share something unique that I implemented in this year’s conference that I believe was the single greatest decision that I have probably made yet in ministry. If you’ve already done this, well then, you’re just awesome already. But if not, I’m telling you, it was challenging, inspiring, but most of all it was enlightening and informative!
What was it? Well, a couple of weeks ago I read an article on churchleaders.com (a great resource on leadership, by the way) by Ron Edmondson, entitled “10 Symptoms Of An Unaware Leader.” I read many articles, so I really didn’t expect much, but toward the end of the article, he suggested a few actions to take….and I did. In a nutshell, Dr. Edmondson says that leaders can often be leading unaware. Since we’re so busy “leading” we rarely stop to assess, measure, or even simply observe, which will often hurt our leadership or even our church. Dr. Edmondson calls it a “pattern of discovery.” It means being intentional about discovering issues or problems that you may be unaware of. We all like to think things are going well, but are they really? Is there things that I think are helping, but in reality they are hurting people or our purpose? I sure wanted to know! I don’t want to be an unaware leader! You?!
Our leadership conference gave me the opportune time to seek this input from our ministry leadership, so I developed a questionnaire for our staff and volunteers to complete…anonymously. I wanted their true and heartfelt responses. This weekend I sat and read the responses in my office, and was absolutely astounded. Here’s why:
- Genuine care– Many shared concerns as well as solutions. It reminded me that God has provided all of the ingenuity we need right within His body. Our people care as much as I do about fulfilling our purpose. “Loose your laity!”
- Constructive criticism– I learned years ago, much criticism usually has an element of truth. Duly noted! It hurt. But it helped. I made some simple commitments to help be become a better leader and pastor as we move forward.
- A desire to learn and grow– In addition to what Dr. Edmondson suggested, I turned the table, and asked them what they felt they needed to work on as well, and how I could help them to accomplish their desires. Many opened their hearts and were very transparent about their spiritual weaknesses and desire to grow as a Christian and as a leader.
This simple anonymous questionnaire, without question, has been one of the best tools to help me as a leader become aware of things that I would not have otherwise known. I want to encourage other pastors to do the same. As Dr. Edmondson stated, “Not knowing is never a good excuse to be unaware.”