By: Larry G. Hess
The Lay Leadership Development program allows you to be part of a church ministry team and part of a church movement which is organized and committed to all aspects of building the kingdom of God.
Whether your calling is in pastoral ministry, youth ministry, music ministry, children's ministry, or one of many other areas of specialization, it is essential that you understand the broad spectrum of local church ministries, para-church ministries, and denominational ministries. The only way a leader can gain the experience and exposure to the total scope of Church of God ministry in a brief time is to work under the guidance of an experienced, trained, and anointed mentor. A lay leader needs a mentor who has an interest in reproducing himself/herself in other people, and who sees the importance of mentoring and discipling laborers for the harvest.
Lay Leadership Development is a mentoring process. Thus, Lay Leadership Development is a strategy for internal character transformation whereby the lay leader is held accountable and given the opportunity to develop character, ministerial skills, and qualities of spiritual leadership. Lay Leadership is both an intense program of character transformation and practical preparation for leadership. We know that the ungodliness of this world and the human heart will not be challenged by a wimpish, fainthearted, superficial version of Christianity. The world needs to see vigorous, valiant, vehement commitment to Christ; not passive, lukewarm followers who are afraid to stand up for God.
Lay Leadership Development is not a quick-fix formula for success as a spiritual leader. It is a mentoring process of leadership which when energized by the Holy Spirit and guided by an anointed supervisor will build insight and confidence into the leader. Lay Leadership Development equips the leader to proclaim God's Word, to live by faith, to follow divine direction, and to counsel and encourage people.
The willingness of a pastor to serve as a mentor reflects his/her understanding of the example of Jesus Christ as a discipler, a mentor, and a role model. Jesus Christ, the Master Discipler, really cared about people and knew that it was not enough to fulfill only His opportunities. His vision for the whole world required that as part of His ministry He must teach others how to reap the harvest. Christ knew that others could go where He could not go and reach people whom His life and ministry could not reach. The man or woman of God who has captured God's own vision for ministry will give themselves to others in partnership as a discipler and spiritual leader.
Serving as a lay leader directed by a mentoring pastor is a great opportunity to learn and develop. The mentoring pastor will do as Jesus did and teach character transformation. Jesus specifically taught His disciples what to be like, not just what to do. For example, when the disciples wanted to learn to pray, Jesus taught them a pattern for prayer, and taught them a character quality which is dependency. Although many today know how to pray, few know how to live dependent on God. Thus, your training is more than learning how to perform or move a crowd; it is learning how to live dependently on God. Depending on God involves many things, such as, eliminating anxiety, materialistic cravings, and status seeking.
The Biblical way of making disciples begins with establishing a good learning atmosphere among the ministry team. This atmosphere requires mutual respect, trust, and confidence. All laity must learn and remember that being a leader means working with people, and that is not always easy. Interpersonal relationships can make or break a leader. A leader must be a "people person" who develops and uses skills in activating that most precious of all resources--people.
John C. Maxwell, in his book, Be A People Person says, "The basis of life is people and how they relate to each other. Our success, fulfillment, and happiness depends upon our ability to relate effectively. The best way to become a person that others are drawn to is to develop qualities that we are attracted to in others."
It is important for the lay leaders to manifest toward the mentoring pastor the very qualities he or she enjoys in others.
1) THE GOLDEN RULE FOR LAY LEADERS
We must remember that the key to relating to others is, "Therefore whatever you want others to do for you, do so for them" (Matthew 7:12).
Problems will often develop among the members of a ministry team. If you are aware of a problem, it is your responsibility to make a sincere effort to facilitate a positive change. You should determine to be an initiator of change not a reactor to problems. For example, some mentoring pastors start off failing to follow the guidelines of Lay Leadership Development. They may not have the weekly sharing sessions which are required or they may fail to conduct the monthly seminars or some other essential requirement. The lay leader is not to be a reactor by just complaining; he or she should quickly initiate with the pastor changes that will resolve the problem.
2) WAYS YOU WANT OTHERS TO TREAT YOU
A) You want others to encourage you.
Most of our best friends have been those who encouraged us. The members of the ministry team must encourage each other. It has been said that, ". . . the happiest people are those who have invested their time in others. The unhappiest people are those who wonder how the world is going to make them happy."
B) You want others to appreciate you.
William James said, "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated." We should often express appreciation to our mentor and to the congregation for the opportunity to serve and grow.
In order for others to treat us with respect and appreciation, there are certain principles that we should remember.
- We cannot underestimate the value of a person.
- Don't take advantage of people.
- Give people the credit they deserve.
- Act quickly to make things right.
- Never embarrass anyone in any situation.
- Seek advice from others.
- Be fair and honest in everything.
- Do not show favoritism.
C) You want others to forgive you.
Most of our emotional problems and anxieties come from unresolved conflicts or failing to have developed right relationships with people. "A forgiving spirit is the one basic, necessary ingredient for a solid relationship," according to John Maxwell. The unfortunate truth is that many of us, instead of offering total forgiveness, pray something like this Irish prayer:
"May those who love us, love us; and those who don't love us may, God turn their hearts; and if He doesn't turn their hearts, may He turn their ankles, so we'll know them by their limping."
John Maxwell said:
"People who find it difficult to forgive don't see themselves realistically. They are either terribly arrogant or tremendously insecure." Forgiveness should be given as quickly and as totally as possible.
If you are to live victoriously, you must quit keeping score of the injustices that have happened. You must learn that in the ministry there will be many times when you will experience hurts and strained relationships. People will curse you, tell you where to go, how to get there, and offer their assistance. The man or woman of God must not hold any grudges or carry any resentments against others. You must not let others control your emotions or what happens inside your mind.
D) You want others to listen to you.
The ability to listen to people and show an accurate level of empathy is a necessary skill in any helping ministry or profession. As people advance in positions of authority, they often develop a lack of patience in listening to those under them. A deaf ear is the first indication of a closed mind. The larger a church and staff gets the less the senior pastor may listen to people. Yet that is when he/she needs to listen to those on the firing line the most. If leaders do not form the habit of listening carefully and intelligently, then they will not get all the facts they need and people will resent their decisions.
E) You want others to understand you.
Communication is fundamental to understanding. If you want the mentoring pastor to understand you, then you must be open and willing to communicate often and in an appropriate way. Of course, the pastor must show an interest in you and be a good listener, not just a good talker.
Remembering and practicing these principles will help you to develop the qualities that we all admire in others. Important words which might be used with these five principles are:
- You can do it/you did a good job – encouragement.
- Thank you – appreciation.
- I forgive you – forgiveness.
- What do you think? or What is your opinion? – listening.
- I want to know you better – understanding.
The lay leaders and the mentoring pastor form a team. They should work close together to solve problems, care for people, reach the lost, and build the body of Christ.
3) A PICTURE OF A WINNING TEAM
In the book, Developing the Leader Within You, John Maxwell describes many characteristics needed in church leadership in order to build a winning pastoral team. Maxwell pointed out that winning teams have great leaders who know how to motivate others and create an environment for success. Excellent leaders show interest and care in their team members by their words and actions.
When H. Ross Perot was putting together a team for a new company his motto was, "Eagles don't flock. You have to find them one at a time." He was saying that you can't build a strong team on weak individuals.
Adlai E. Stevenson said that there are only three rules of sound administrators: pick good people; tell them not to cut corners; and back them to the limits. Picking good people is the most important. In Maxwell's book, he lists the "top 20" personal requirements to look for in a potential staff member.
They are as follows:
- Positive Attitude - the ability to see people and situations in a positive way.
- *High Energy Level - strength and stamina to work hard and not wear down.
- Personal Warmth - a manner that draws people to them.
- Integrity - trustworthy, good solid character, words and walk are consistent.
- Responsible - always "comes through," no excuses; job delegated-job done.
- Good Self-image - feels good about self, others, and life.
- *Mental Horsepower - ability to keep learning as the job expands.
- Leadership Ability - has high influence over others.
- Followership Ability - willingness to submit, play team ball, and follow the leader.
- *Absence of Personal Problems - personal, family, and business life are in order.
- People Skills - the ability to draw people and develop them.
- Sense of Humor - enjoys life, fails to take self too seriously.
- *Resilience - able to "bounce back" when problems arise.
- *Track Record - has experience and success, hopefully in two or more situations.
- Great Desire - hungers for growth and personal development.
- Self-discipline - willing to "pay the price" and handle success.
- Creative - ability to see solutions and fix problems.
- Flexibility - not afraid of change; fluid; flows as the organization grows.
- Sees "Big Picture" - able to look beyond personal interest and see the total picture.
- *Intuitive - able to discern and sense a situation without tangible data.
*These things probably cannot be taught. The others can be taught with a proper mentor, environment, and willingness by the staff member. Most of the qualities in the above list can be evaluated with a couple of interviews and tests.
The Lay Leadership Development program is designed to help improve your strengths in many of these areas and equip you as an effective lay leader in partnership with the pastoral team. Remember that the growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.
If we are not self-motivated and Spirit controlled, no pastor can make us a vital part of his/her team. Apathy and non-participation by Christians are the curse of the church today and cannot be tolerated in lay leaders. It is the responsibility of the mentoring pastor and the church to provide a climate in which leaders can fit, be a vital part of the team, and be motivated. Lay Leadership Development does not contain manipulative gimmickry to motivate laity. Either they have the fire and passion for soul winning, leadership, and service, or they don't. Also, if a mentoring pastor doesn't have it in him; he can't teach it or give it away.
If the lay person does not possess teachability, flexibility, and humility, no amount of modeling will make him/her a real leader. If a mentoring pastor is not selfless, courageous, caring, and highly competent in ministerial skills, no amount of motivating will make him/her an effective leader.
The mentoring pastor and lay leader must see themselves as part of a team with specific roles to be carried out with mutual respect and commitment bringing about a life-changing experience for both of them.
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Larry G. Hess
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