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5 Leadership Insights I Wish I Knew 25 Years Ago

I just finished six months as a lead pastor at West Park Church in London, Ontario, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my time here at a great church. This summer also marks 34 years in ministry that has included my role as singles’ pastor, discipleship pastor, associate pastor, teaching pastor, church planter and lead pastor.

Although I’ve earned two seminary degrees and I appreciate what I learned in seminary, I’ve learned many key lessons that seminary never taught me.

I wish I had known these five key lessons when I began ministry.

1. Silence from your team does not mean they agree with you.

Early on when I’d lead either staff, board or volunteer meetings, I tried very hard to sell ideas I was excited about. I would often present the idea in such a way that hindered honest input from the team.

I’d enthusiastically share the idea, ask if their were any questions, and when none came I assumed everybody agreed. I learned the hard way that silence often did not mean they agreed with my idea. Rather, the team was simply reluctant to share their concerns.

Only later would I find out that the idea was not a good one and lacked support. My overbearing “sell job” actually stifled feedback I needed to hear.

2. Collaboration will get you further down the road.

This insight stands as a close cousin to number 1.

I once thought that to prove my leadership mettle, I had to originate all major ministry initiatives and ideas. If someone suggested an idea, although I may have appeared to listen to them, mentally I would often dismiss their idea if it didn’t jive with mine.

Why? Because it didn’t originate with me.

I’ve since learned that if I use a collaborative process to determine vision and major objectives, I get more buy-in and in the long run make greater progress.

3. You probably can’t overcommunicate.

Most people in our churches don’t spend the hours we do in thinking about church ministry. Because we spend so much more time thinking on these issues, I often fell into a subconscious trap assuming that if I felt I was overcommunicating about something, others must feel the same way.

I’ve learned since that it’s almost impossible to overcommunicate issues like vision, values and core strategies. 

Although we created banners, book marks and cool graphics to communicate our church’s current theme (Unified yet Unique), when I asked our church this past Sunday to quote that simple phrase, few could repeat it. That experience reminded me that although I thought I had communicated it effectively, I still needed to communicate it even more.