Just as any year has its share of good times and bad, 2015 was no different. While there were many difficult days this past year, I want to give attention to the lessons I’ve learned specifically as a result of being involved in leadership. They aren’t easy lessons to learn but I’m grateful for how they’ve formed me as a leader and as a pastor. It is my hope and prayer that these lessons might be helpful to some of you as well. Here’s what I’ve learned in 2015:
- Leadership is alway under fire! I guess I’ve always known this to be true, but this year it has become ever so much clearer to me. Whether you are making the best decisions or not, leaders inevitably are questioned. It seems as if no matter what is done or said there are people on various sides of an issue ready to pounce on you.
- Leaders are only as popular as their most recent decision or action. It has been fascinating to me to see how fickle people can be regarding the view of leadership and the decisions being made. This year alone, I have taken hits for not sharing enough information, for sharing too much information, for acting too quickly and for not acting quickly enough.
- Leading a volunteer organization (church) is the most difficult leadership. I heard Bill Hybels say this almost 20 years ago. Today I believe it to be true more than ever before. People choose every Sunday whether or not to follow church leadership. Will people gather for worship? Will they serve? Will they give? Will they love their neighbors as they love themselves? All of these are decisions that are entrusted with church members each and every week. This often leaves leaders wondering what they can expect from those they are leading. . . and not without an undue amount of stress along the way!
- Leaders are forged in the fire. It’s easy to lead when budgets are big, when the church is growing and when everyone is happy. Unfortunately, this is rarely a reality in today’s church. Reading books on leadership and listening to TED talks can be helpful, but leaders primarily grow in the crucible of difficult times. I am honored to serve alongside a group of leaders who have been forged this past year.
- Leadership will cost you relationships. This is perhaps the saddest of all lessons I’ve learned this year. I’ve lost friends. Colleagues that I’ve served with have ended up on opposite sides of issues and as such relationships have been severed.
It is my prayer that the lessons learned and the experiences endured over the past twelve months will help me to continue to grow as a leader in the coming year. If they are helpful to anyone else, than that would be even better. Blessings and prayers for a healthy and prosperous 2016.