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Buzzwords Don’t Make a Leader

On several occasions, when teaching, I’ve noted the difference between buzzwords and leadership. In fact, I think that a key facet of leadership is knowing the difference between a strategy and a collection of buzzwords.

In the corporate world, there are a multitude of buzzwords (and phrases) that need to fall out of existence. And, yes, I’m an offending party on several of these.

Learnings

Synergistic

Guru

Bandwidth

Thinking outside of the box

Let’s talk offline

Deep dive

Granular

Come-to-Jesus moment

The list could go on and on. For those who lead in the church, we have a completely other set of buzzwords. The sad thing is that many of the words have an important meaning.

Nevertheless, they have become junk-drawer terms that are applied to everything and often come to mean nothing. A short list would be:

Postmodern

Missional

Relevant

Contemporary

Gifting

Resonate

Gospel

A few of these terms are important to me. They might be important to you. 

And, yes, I just put “Gospel” on the list. The reason is not that the biblical term has lost its meaning, but that it has been so widely applied that others have lost a sense of its meaning.

The three questions I have are simple: “When you use that term, what do you mean?” and “Do the people listening to you understand what you are saying?” and “Do they now understand enough to follow where you are leading?” It is a lesson that was driven home for me when I recently traveled to teach at the Kiev Theological Seminary.

When leading, we must know these facts.

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Philip Nation serves as the pastor at First Baptist Church of Bradenton, Florida and frequently speak at churches and conferences. He earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, he was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, Philip's served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter.