Random Thoughts On Leadership
Over the years, I have been very laid back about most things. That has been good and bad. The good is that I haven’t over-hyped our church or goaded people into doing things. (No fleshly results). The bad is that at times I should have been much more intentional in imparting vision, mobilizing, and motivating in direct ways. I thank God that He brings us along. I am increasingly enjoying getting out in front of things now. That’s not a natural gift for me, but perhaps, an imparted skill.
God can use our personalities, and I believe He desires to do so, but woe to us when we substitute our personalities for Spirit led living and leading. People want to follow leaders. We need to constantly be careful about how we lead. May we develop churches that follow Jesus first and foremost. I think it is easier for people to follow people than to follow God. Let’s not take advantage of that.
King David ordained his son Solomon to follow in his place. He did this while he still had influence and power. Moses ordained Joshua. Paul appointed Timothy. The models of older pastors raising up younger pastors and handing off ministry to them is very attractive to me. I have been a senior pastor for 20 years, and a pastor for 23 years. I look forward to the next season of my life in preparing the guys that will take our church forward. I am thankful for the models that have been presented to us, i.e. Bill Ritchie & Daniel Fusco, as well as others.
Not everybody in our church thinks like me. I don’t why I thought they did. I am continuing to learn to listen to the voices of the faithful saints as they share ideas about ministry and community interfacing. Pastors are unique animals, and I think that at least for me, I sometimes lose the pulse of the man in the pew. It is good to talk with the folks in our church and hear their ideas.
Back to the idea of leading….there is a great need for people to be Spirit led, and to receive vision from the Lord…but I also believe that we pastors need to share vision and provide opportunities. I know that I am preaching to the choir. My thought is that our brethren need to always be Kingdom minded and Kingdom motivated, but (possibly) expressing that in two ways. 1) According to how God is leading them in their day to day lives, without our direction. 2) According to how God might impart to me, (as their pastor) larger events and opportunities. I pray that the people in our church act both independently and corporately.
I don’t like making mistakes, but I love learning
form from them.
Early on in my marriage, I had a suspicion that God might be calling me to be a pastor, but I never realized how important it would be that He gave me a “pastor’s wife” as my wife. My wife has radically enhanced my ability to serve as a pastor.
Speaking of training up the next generation of pastor’s…don’t forget to help their wives grow into their respective position as a pastor’s wife. Some guys are held back or hindered because their wives were not nurtured and helped to grow into their position as a pastor’s wife.
I heard a pastor once say, “It’s good to be afraid again”. He spoke of the fact that at that time in his life, he was taking a big step of faith and following a new course for life. His entire routine was being set aside, and a new lifestyle was being developed. His “fear” was refreshing to him, because it signaled utter dependence upon Jesus, instead of nominal dependence sought out in the routine of life.
God’s grace IS sufficient.
As a leader, especially a senior pastor who is regularly before those he’s leading, it is very important to realize that we are always imparting vision, even though we may not be doing so intentionally. If we’re not aware of it or deliberate with our vision-casting we can impart a vision of apathy or lethargy.
I agree that we can inadvertently impart a vision of apathy or lethargy. That’s a good word of caution for us.
However, I’d ask that you would elaborate a bit on what you mean by imparting vision and vision-casting. Semantics come into play here.
Let me explain…
If we consider the principles of the Christian life, and the principles of Christian ministry under the banner of vision-casting, then I totally agree. The basics must regularly be re-stated, and the people reminded.
However, I have seen some pastors who are called “visionaries” who have something new each week. There is always a new adventure, a new plan, a new goal for the people to back the pastor on, and to fall into line to support the pastor’s latest vision.
I have seen congregations that are more adept at following the pastor’s latest vision, than to have any revelation of their own.
That is a worst case scenario, but not unknown even among CC circles.
That being so, what do you include in your idea of vision-casting and always imparting vision? Does it include regular re-statement of the basics?
I am sure that I may be tripping on semantics here.
Bill, Miles – the greatest compliment I have ever received in ministry is when, a few years ago, a man came up to me at the end of a Sunday morning service and said, “Tim, when I leave Calvary Chapel Fremont every Sunday, I want to live for Christ.”
Whatever other vision in terms of ‘task’ or ‘ministry’ I want to impart or cast, I want it to be on the context of a surrendered life. I don’t want to recruit them to vision, I want to inspire them to follow Christ. And then, in the context of a surrendered life, they respond to vision.
None of this is outside the boundaries of what either of you have written. I agree that we are always imparting something – and sometimes we should be intentional about it!
Thanks for a thoughtful post, Bill.
Will you be my ghost writer?
Everyone follows the bass player Dr. Walden – You are a true visionary 😉
one of my closing references in my message yesterday was Hebrews 10:24-25.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Yes, impartation of vision does involve regularly laying the ground work for the basics of Christian living, but I’d argue that it goes further than that. It also involves the exhortation of the body to go deeper in their walk with the Lord, and provides helpful direction in how to do that. Part of that direction is [I believe] the vision of the church leadership.
Clearly this takes place at your church Bill. You (or the combined leadership of CMNV) have a vision for missions, especially in Mexico. Part of exhorting your body to deeper faith is the challenge for them to exercise their faith in service in Mexico. Tim, you do the same at Calvary Fremont. Your church is actively involved in ministry to Muslims in your area; again, part of your (or the combined leadership of CCF) vision. True?
For some reason there seems to be an aversion to the discussion of vision, vision casting, or impartation of vision among some senior pastors I talk with. I’m not sure where this comes from? It might actually come from exactly what you’ve said in your clarification, Bill. I’m sure there may be pastors who have a flighty form of leadership that is seen in the constant shifting of their “vision.” I agree, that would be a problem. The bigger problem that I’ve observed, and I believe the Scriptures describe, are visionless churches/leaders.
Just some more “Random Thoughts on Leadership” 😉
I totally agree with your last paragraph. You nailed it.
I think some of the “heavy hitters” in the CC movement have been called visionaries, but that definition is usually connected to some huge land purchase, buying radio stations, claiming a foreign country as their own mission field, etc.
The term “visionary” for me has come to (wrongly) mean some guy that is always walking on water and then selling books which re-tell their story. Their style of visionary living is usually about what they are doing, and how they are helping people accomplish their vision.
If your definition of casting vision is as listed above, I applaud you.
Maybe the new definition of “casting vision” has been fuzzy, but I like what you said.
Semantics are moving targets at times, but principles aren’t.
I love your last paragraph, and agree 100%
Thanks for clarifying.
Daniel…..play the “one”. OOOWWWW!
I agree, Miles. The pulpit is a call to surrendered lives and practical ministry. Sometimes that practical ministry is made specific from the pulpit and sometimes its not. It might be something as generic as a pastor saying, “The Lord has given me a vision that we are to serve the needs of our city,” to something as specific as, “The Lord is directing us to make up 100 backpacks for our local elementary school.”
I also think you’re right that some pastors (and I would include me in this group, to an extent) have an aversion or reluctance to discussion of vision or vision casting, etc. The reluctance, aversion, or whatever on my part comes from my experience. I didn’t hear it from my pastors and the pulpits I sat under while growing up. My call into ministry wasn’t in response to an altar call, I didn’t join a group of people called forth in a vision casting sermon to plant 20 churches in 20 cities in the next 20 months. My call into ministry happened in the back ball room of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio on Glendora Ave. in West Covina on Jan. 3, 1972. My tutelage under CCCM sermons were full of exhortations to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying for you to do and then do it. My church experience didn’t include vision casting and the vision casting of my early Christian experience was more atmospheric than pulpit generated. I lived among a group of people who were intently listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit for His guidance and revelation. We weren’t listening to Chuck to provide direction for our Christian service, though, no doubt, much was given catalyst by him.
Vision casting, etc., wasn’t part of my lexicon. But, as you have observed in both Bill and myself, vision casting is taking place. I would say that since it isn’t part of my lexicon I wouldn’t have articulated my calling the congregation I serve to Muslim evangelism as being vision casting. But I guess it is.
Great job in setting that up in it’s historical context.
That very much resonates with me.
Question for you…
Do you think that this generation has become more dependent upon the pastor directing them about “what to do” in serving God than perhaps, our generation was?
Not meant as a slam on this generation, or a propping up of our generation.
I really can’t answer that, Bill. I don’t get out much. Jesus chose His 12. Paul laid hold of Timothy. Barnabas recruited Paul for ministry work in Antioch. A pastor’s involvement in someone moving into ministry isn’t problematic. Sooner or later Timothy had to hear from God that he we to serve in the ministry. If young people’s only model is pastoral recruitment and depend solely on the pastor for vision, that is a flawed model. Th NT gives us both models – pastoral recruitment and personal revelation. But then each comes full circle. Personal revelation must meet pastoral confirmation and pastoral recruitment must be confirmed by personal revelation. Right?
Old or young, it’s very difficult to use our experience as pastors to answer these questions. At least for the three of us I think it’s safe to say that we’ve never really had a problem seeking God for His direction. Somewhere along the line, whether by our own seeking of God or the direction of those we trusted as leaders in our lives, we discerned the Lord’s call and followed Him for the specifics of that vision. I don’t think it’s wrong to say that we’re the minority.
Many, if not most, of the people under our leadership are looking to us, as leaders in their lives, to help them discern God’s direction and calling. I’m sure that I am like you in that I constantly reaffirm the necessity for them to be seeking the Lord for that direction and calling. Yet, at the same time I believe it is important for pastors to be an example of those who have such vision from the Lord. Furthermore, that vision will likely involve those who are a part of the churches we lead.