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6 Practices for Your First Year in Church Leadership

Church Leadership

Starting well in your first year is so important for the long run of your leadership.

In your first year of ministry, it is more important to focus on your internal adjustments more than external accomplishments.

I’m sure I did this backwards for a season. (Probably longer than I’d like to admit.)

I was so excited to reach people for Jesus and driven for results that when margins were thin, my default was results, not my personal growth.

Soon enough, fortunately, both were happening, growing under John Maxwell’s incredible mentoring and seeing the church grow.

However, because in those early years, I didn’t make as many of the internal adjustments as my coach pointed me toward, I actually slowed my growth for a while.

Internal adjustments are things like leading by values rather than leading by pressure, overcoming insecurities, wanting more for people than from people, developing and empowering leaders rather than just being busy doing ministry, and the list goes on.

I’m writing this post as if I could sit with you, in your first year of ministry leadership, regardless of your age, and help get you started in the best way possible. (Or play a little catch-up if needed.)

Or perhaps if you are now a supervisor or coach of leaders, this post may be helpful to you as you get new leaders started well.

Let’s agree on something.

Results matter. Reaching more people for Christ is the mission. But if you don’t lead yourself well, you can’t lead others well. Start there.

Here’s the point.

You can’t lead far if the well doesn’t run deep.

You cannot simply “fill the well” once, and that’s it for the next 5 – 10 years. So you absolutely need to keep stretching, changing, and growing.

It may seem counterintuitive to put personal growth over church growth because leaders serve for the sake of the mission. That’s true, but if you stop growing, the church will eventually stop growing too.

Other factors will slow or stop church growth, but nothing is as sure as leaders who stop getting better at leading.

6 Practices to Get Your First Year of Church Leadership off to a Great Start

1. Doing good is more important than looking good.

Ministry is very public, and it’s easy to allow the temptation to “look good” in the eyes of those you lead to shape what you do and how you do it.

Resist that at all costs.

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Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together.