Believe it or not, we’ve arrived at the end of another calendar year and the beginning of resolution season. Personally, I believe that we should resolve to be better and live more committed lives daily not just annually, but I can’t resist the call to be reflective at year’s end. There is something about section of time when one year ends and another begins, that moves people to think of starting anew. Truthfully, most of the resolutions that are made in the next several days will be forgotten in a month’s time, but that fact doesn’t at all diminish most people from announcing resolutions. Leaders are no different. As the curtain closes on the year 2010, and rises on 2011, here are a few resolutions that I believe would be beneficial for all leaders, and especially those that lead in churches.
1. Resolve to live balanced lives.
Leaders, in the same or greater proportion as the rest of the world, are typically living out of balance. Too much work, not enough rest. All worship, no serious study. Spend, spend, spend; not enough saving. Eat too much, exercise too little. Too task-oriented, not enough attention to relationships. Let’s be honest, balance takes work. It is a lot easier to lean to our areas of perceived strength or comfort, rather than to work to grow in the areas of our weakness. Some management philosophies, such as “staff to your weakness”, empower the notion to continue in our strengths rather than striving for relative balance in all areas. Some leaders have gone so long without any course correction, that they have developed blind spots to just how out of balance they are.
As leaders, we should strive to live balanced lives. Leaders should, at least annually, partake in some sort of assessment that will highlight where we need to improve. Ask others their opinions, seek counsel with denominational or business leadership. Leaders need to work towards balance in every area of life, not just in the office or boardroom. Family, health, and relationship with God cannot suffer for the sake of “leadership” excellence. Truthfully, the unbalanced leader exhibits little overall excellence.
2. Resolve to continue to learn and develop.
A disciple is, by definition, a lifelong learner. Leaders should never tire of learning, developing, and growing. Finished with formal education? Audit a course. Ready to write a book? That doesn’t mean that you can stop reading them yourself. Set some reading, learning, and professional development goals for yourself in the coming year. I believe that one of the issues with the church in America is that most of its believe that they are above being taught. Make strides to ensure that you are not counted among that number. Many leaders complain that those they lead don’t want to learn, or think that they know it all…make sure that they aren’t learning those habits from you. A wise person once told me that when a leader stops growing, those they lead stop growing.
3. Resolve to be counted among the servants, not the served.
Jesus, in Matthew 23, admonished the Pharisees for desiring Moses’ seat at tables of honor. The rulers of the synagogue, the ecclesiastical leaders of the time, perceived themselves to be those who deserved to be served due to their title and position. Sadly, there is a trend in contemporary Christianity that implies that clergy leaders are a different class of Christian. This class of leader deserves the service and adoration of those they lead. This line of clergy worship couldn’t stray further from the ministry of Christ. This year, let us all resolve to serve, rather than be served. If you don’t already, esteem others higher than yourself. Recognize that the cincture that girds the waist of a cassock represents the servant’s role of the minister. A minister is, by definition, a servant. To be called servant was good enough for Jesus, and for centuries it was good enough for those called to lead within the church. Now we have the proliferation of titles such as bishop, elder, overseer, and even apostle. Whatever your title, resolve, that in the new year, you will be known by the name…servant.
4. Resolve not to compromise integrity for the sake of growth.
Recently, I listened to John Piper preach a sermon, in which he admonished a group of leaders not to sell the gospel. By this he meant that they should not compromise the integrity of the gospel message for the sake of crowds or cheap growth. Believe it or not, we do not get to determine, as leaders, when growth occurs. We do not control growth. God gives the increase. The Lord prepares the harvest. What a leader does control, is whether all the elements of healthy environments for growth are present. We get to ensure the integrity of the soil and the seed planted. We get to be faithful in our nurture of the seed. But the increase, the growth, is in God’s control. In the coming year, allow the discernment of the Spirit of God to reign. Say no to shortcuts that undermine the truth that is in the gospel message. Don’t follow the crowds into the use of the latest ministry techniques that promise to grow your attendance. Expose heresy, by shedding light upon it. The lines of one of my favorite hymns gives us a lead…”How to reach the masses? Men of every birth. For an answer, Jesus gave the key. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Lift him up!” Lift Jesus up…still he speaks from eternity!
Above all else, I pray that we all, in this coming year, continue to grow in the grace, peace, knowledge, and likeness of our Lord. Stay blessed.