5 RELATIONSHIPS EVERY CHURCH PLANTER NEEDS TO THRIVE

Being a church planter is difficult. There is an emotional, spiritual, and physical toll that it takes on your mind, body, and soul that is difficult to articulate. This is our reality. But, this is not a reality that we should escape. Instead, this is a reality that has a weight that should be distributed across several key relationships. 

After experiencing the negative effects of not identifying and developing these types of relationships through the first five years of my church planting journey, here are five relationships I would recommend. 

THE OUTSIDER

This is someone who doesn't attend your church. This is someone who doesn't see you as their pastor. This is someone who you don't feel like you need to "pour into" and they don't need you to "pour into" them. This is someone who you can spend a significant amount of time with and not feel like you have to bring up anything having to do with your church. 

This is a childhood friend. This is a high school or college buddy. This is someone who you can talk to about the people in your church or on your staff and they would have an unbiased opinion about who you're talking about. This is someone who you feel comfortable being the most "unfiltered" with. This is some who feels comfortable with being "unfiltered" with you. The outsider is a friend. 

THE INSIDER

This is someone who does attend your church. This is someone who does see you as their pastor. But, they are life-giving to you; not life-draining. They love you. They support you. They believe in the vision God has given you almost as strongly as you do. They give to the vision. They sacrifice for the vision. And you have fun bringing the vision to reality with them. 

This can be an elder. This can be (maybe controversially so) a staff member. This can be someone you've discipled. Or, this can be a particular member of the church who you "click" well with. This is someone who you can be "unfiltered" with as it relates to what is going on in the ministry, but they have the spiritual maturity to keep what you say confidential and not allow it to negatively impact their view of you as their pastor. The insider is a co-laborer. 

THE CHURCH PLANTER

This is someone who is doing what you're doing, somewhere else. Preferably, this is someone who has either planted a church one or two years ahead of you or after you. This is someone who gets the troubles and triumphs you are currently experiencing because they are currently experiencing very similar things. This is someone you can celebrate and commiserate with! This is someone who you don't feel like you're competing against, but instead someone you feel like you're accomplishing with

This can be a church planter in your context. This can be a church planter outside of your context. This can be a church planter inside or outside of your denomination or network. This can be a church planter with a similar philosophy of ministry or a different philosophy of ministry, but it has to be a church planter who you have a high respect for how they do ministry. If you are too closely related to someone who violates the non-negotiable principles you have for effective ministry, that can be more frustrating to you than fruitful for you. The church planter is a peer.

THE MENTOR

This is someone who has done what you're doing. This is someone who has gone where you're going. This is someone who defines ministry success the same way you define it. This is someone who has had the type of faithfulness and fruitfulness that you desire to have, and they are invested in your success. This is someone who you can be completely honest with and someone who has permission to be completely honest with you. No questions are off limits. 

This can be a pastor for a more established church in your city. This can be the pastor from your sending church. This can be a more seasoned pastor from your denomination or network. If you are "Timothy," this is your "Paul." This is someone who is not only interested in the success of your ministry, but they are also interested in the health of your soul. The mentor is a guide.

THE COUNSELOR

This is a professional. This is someone with a degree. This is someone who gets paid to listen and to provide psychological support and feedback for ministry struggles and non-ministry related issues. This is someone who should be a first resort for spiritual and emotional health rather than a last resort after "burn out." This is someone who you should see consistently proactively rather than inconsistently reactively. 

This can be a Christian. This can be a non-Christian. But, the more this person is familiar and experienced with counseling pastors the better. You can see this person at whatever frequency is most comfortable for you, but I would recommend no less than twice a year. Sometimes, this is someone who will find it necessary to help you unpack issues in your past so you can healthily navigate though issues in your present and future. The counselor is a specialist. 

The common theme with these relationships is that none of them necessarily require you to be a pastor, instead, they require you to be a human. And interestingly enough, I've found that the more human I'm required to be, the more faithful and healthy of a pastor I am!

COMMENT BELOW!

What do you think? Are these relationships that you have? Are these relationships that you need? Am I missing anyone? (Note: for those of you thinking, "How about Jesus? How about your wife and kids?" I'm assuming you already know that to be true!)

HOW TO DEAL WITH YOUR ATTENDANCE FRUSTRATIONS

You don't want to be frustrated. You don't want to be disappointed. You don't want to be angry. But, you look out from the stage as you are just about to begin preaching and, for a moment, your heart sinks because the room is not as full as you'd like it to be. (And then you get frustrated with yourself for allowing such an unholy thought to even cross your mind in the first place!) 

Over the first five years of my church planting journey, this has happened all too often! 

Regardless of increased marketing. Regardless of the social media onslaught. Regardless of giving people all the tools they need to be able to invite their friends. Regardless of the "seeker sensitive" sermon series. Regardless of the amount of time invested praying and fasting. Regardless of every physical and spiritual effort you put forth to increase weekend attendance, it just doesn't happen.

So what do you do? How do you maintain your sanity? How do you lead faithfully when the "fruit" that you are convinced you should be experiencing is not a reality? How do you press forward when your idea of how good of a leader you are and the results you see aren't one in the same?

Because this struggle has been all too real for me, hear are a few thoughts that I need to remind myself of (pretty much every week!) so that I don't lose my mind!

IT'S OK TO DESIRE GROWTH.

Firstly, don't condemn yourself for wanting more people to be present and engaged with your ministry. That is not a desire from the devil! You are preaching the gospel. You are making disciples. You are dispensing hope. You are connecting people. You are serving your city. I would be concerned about you and the quality of your ministry if you didn't desire that more people experience it!

IT'S NOT OK TO BE UNGRATEFUL.

Secondly, instead of wasting your emotional energy on what isn't, invest it in what is. Celebrate who did show up. Praise God for the lives that are being transformed. Share the stories of the testimonies that are being told. Express gratitude for the people who God is giving you the opportunity to impact for His glory. When who is not involved with your ministry consumes more of your mind than who is, you are being an unfaithful steward. 

The cure for discontent is gratitude. When you find yourself discontent with what God is doing (or not doing) in your church, repent and spend an extended period of time thinking through and thanking God for each and every blessing He is bestowing upon your ministry. And don't do this to make you feel better, do this primarily because God is worthy of this praise! We are entitled to nobody! The fact that God would allow sinful and wretched sinners like you and I to partner with Him in advancing His Kingdom on earth is an absolute miracle. That God would use us to reach even one is only a credit to His grace and mercy on us. Our inability to be grateful for who God has graced us with may be an indicator of an overestimation of who we think we are!

IT'S NECESSARY TO SANCTIFY YOUR MOTIVATIONS.

Finally, if you haven't learned this yet about church planting, make this note: God has called you to plant a church not so that you would reach others, but so that He could reach you! Surprise! Though God will, obviously, reach and transform many people as a result of your calling, the heart that He is most concerned with in your congregation is yours. 

I am convinced that the reason why God withholds growth in many of our churches is because He wants the men and women who lead these churches to be purged of our unholy ambitions. He wants to be the supreme treasure of our hearts, not the size or success of our church. He wants the health of His Bride not Her "size" to be our primary care and concern!

By withholding growth, our hearts are laid bare before ourselves, our spouses, our teams, our church, and our community. Why did you decide to plant a church in the first place - to become somebody or to make much of Someone? Because the unsettling truth is this, you can't do both.    

One last thought, I know we usually use the verse, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it" as a way to encourage people, but I want to use this verse to leave you with a more discouraging thought that I hope will be encouraging. Ha! If you don't "get over" this attendance thing and find a sense of true contentment and peace in what God is doing in your ministry, God WILL be faithful to accomplish this work in you. And if that means keeping your church at the size that you dread, best believe, HE. WILL. DO IT. 

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT MEETING YOU'LL EVER LEAD

After nearly five years since our church was planted, I’ve concluded that there has been one type of meeting that I’ve regularly led that has had more of a positive impact on the future of our church than any other meeting. 

One meeting that has positively impacted morale. One meeting that has strengthened the relationships of our staff. One meeting that has nourished our personal love for Jesus. One meeting that has given us the clearest perspective on where we’ve been and where we’re going. This meeting is the catalyst for momentum. 

THE ONCE A TRIMESTER OFF-SITE.

Every four months, I gather our staff team together for two days of “looking back” and “looking forward,” and after leading at least 10 of these (we missed a few in the early days), I am sure that it is a meeting that I will NEVER neglect leading again!

WHY?

  • Slowing Down to connect with Jesus.
  • Building Morale to strengthen team. 
  • Celebrating Wins to honor God’s faithfulness.
  • Creating Clarity to unify our efforts.
  • Planning ahead to synch our calendars.

HOW?

  • I lead a devotional thought from Scripture.
  • We have extended time in personal Scripture reading/prayer/journaling.
  • We celebrate what God has done in the previous 4 months by listing stories of life-change, moments of God’s favor, financial provision, etc. Anything that has the fingerprint of God on it, we remember and praise Him for!
  • We have a time of personal/professional development. This can be through a book we’re reading, a conference message we watch, a podcast we listen to, a blog post we think through, etc.
  • We set a THEMATIC GOAL. What is the one thing we are going to be focusing on accomplishing, together as a team, over the next four months?
  • We set one primary goal around each of our seven STANDARD OPERATING OBJECTIVES.
    • Sunday Services
    • Community Groups
    • Volunteer Teams
    • 1-1 Discipleship
    • Stewarding Finances
    • Assimilating 1st-Time Guests
    • Serving Elmhurst
  • We assign responsibilities to each of the goals. 
  • We calendar all major future events and meetings for the next four months.
  • We share meals with each other over the course of the two days and we typically have one “fun element” built into the two days as well. 

As a church planter, whether you have paid staff or not, I strongly encourage you to, every 3-4 months, gather your key leaders together to lead them forward in this way. You will not regret the time invested!

If there is anything I can do to serve you in facilitating a meeting similar to this, please feel to drop a comment below!

5 QUICK TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF A CHURCH CONFERENCE

Over the next few days, myself and several of the leaders from my church are in Reno for the Acts 29 US West Conference. Having been to many church conferences over the years, here are a few things I have to remind myself of in order to posture my heart for what God might have for me at this conference.

1. EXPECT DON'T ASSUME

Come expecting. Expecting God to move in your heart. Expecting God to speak to your soul. Expecting God to renew your mind. Expecting God to give you rest. Expecting God to give you exactly what you need to remain committed to your calling for another season. Expect motivation. Expect inspiration. Expect adoration.

Don't assume. Don't assume you know how it's all going to go. Don't assume how you will feel during the times of worship. Don't assume what you will learn during the times of teaching. Don't assume what's going to be taught at the breakouts. Don't assume that what you've experienced at conferences before, will be what you experience this time around. Don't go through the motions of attending a church conference, expect a unique, powerful encounter with God!

2. LEARN DON'T EVALUATE

As a church planter, when we get in church environments, other than our own, we are more quick to evaluate what we see than we are to experience what we've been invited into. And it's the same way with conferences.

My encouragement to you is to go first, as a child of God and a son of a King who has much to learn rather than a church leader who has insight in regards to how the conference could be better. Take notes. Lean in. Refuse to check your emails. Determine to have your eyes and ears open to what God wants to say to you. Come as a humble servant not an arrogant professional.

3. WORSHIP DON'T WATCH

Similar to the point above, but specific to the times of singing and worship, engage personally don't evaluate critically. This is a rare opportunity where you aren't responsible for how the event is happening. You don't have to worry about the lyrics. You don't have to worry about the sound. You don't have to worry about the music or the service flow. You don't have to get up after the music is over and preach a message!

Worship Jesus. Praise His name. Sing. Loud! Leave the worries of your church behind and praise the King of Kings and Lord of Lord for whom you planted a church in the first place! You need to be filled.  You need to be renewed. You need to have your awe of Jesus rescued. Engage!

4. CELEBRATE DON'T COMPARE

When you hear of what God is doing in the lives of other church planters, don't be so quick to compare your results to theirs. Celebrate what God is doing in their ministry. Praise God for how God is moving in their context. Be encouraged that God is at work in places other than your own! Be happy for another church planter's fruit as you would want them to be happy for yours!

As you've heard before, "Comparison is the thief of joy." Don't allow the beauty of what God is doing in other church plants to rob you from the good that God is doing in your church plant.

Also, one more thing, don't feel the need to "one up" anybody with your stories of what God is doing in your ministry. It's tacky.

5. MOVE DON'T MOLESKIN!

Knowledge is useless unless its applied! The last thing you or your church plant needs is for you to have another notebook filled with notes from workshops and messages you've yet to apply to your actual ministry!  Take notes? Absolutely. But more importantly, be on the lookout for the one or two things that the Holy Spirit is leading and convicting you to apply immediately following the conference! 

Before leaving the conference, write down the one or two things you commit to do as a result of attending the conference in the next 30 days. 

BONUS TIP: LEAD THE TEAM YOU HAVE ATTENDING THE CONFERENCE WITH YOU TO FOLLOW THESE FIVE TIPS AS WELL!

10 PREACHING INSIGHTS I ABSOLUTELY LIVE BY

My preaching experience includes 100+ sermons in my 2.5 years of being a pastor to high school students/young adults in Fremont and another 100+ sermons in my first 3 years of being the Lead Pastor of theMOVEMENT Church in Oakland.

Many pastors have preached many more messages than I have, but in an effort to become a more effective communicator (and maybe help a few other preachers who may come across this post), I thought it would be beneficial to reflect on some of the lessons I have learned over the last 5+ years of preaching the good news!

  1. Good News > Great Advice. Though I want my messages to be helpful, I am more concerned with my messages being powerful. With that in mind, for me, if a message doesn't conclude with extolling the finished work of Jesus Christ as the true source of power for all life change, I have not preached...I have, merely, given a talk. (Romans 1:16)    
     
  2. Find energy in text. Bring energy to text. My best energies in my message should not be given towards jokes, illustrations or personal anecdotes. Instead, in my study, I must find where there is energy, movement, and momentum in the text of Scripture and then I need to bring my energy, creativity, and enthusiasm to that text of Scripture. The source of life is not in my stories, the source of life is in the Word! (Psalm 119:25)
     
  3. No burden. No bueno. The more in tune I am with the consequences of not obeying/applying/understanding what I am about to preach, the more ready I am to preach. The more my heart is broken for the people who need to hear the message I am about to bring, the more ready I am to bring it. If I am not aware of the sense of urgency to my message there will be no sense of urgency in my message. No burden. No bueno.
     
  4. Build tension. Earn attention. The greatest books and movies I've ever read and watched build a tremendous amount of tension and suspense in the beginning causing me to "lean in" to find out how the problem is going to be resolved. In preaching, the better I can craft a tension-building question (a problem that the audience wants the answer to), the more engaged the listener will be. Don't assume interest. Build tension. Earn attention.    
     
  5. Be affected. Be effective. When I have already been affected by the truth of the text that I am going to preach, I find myself being more effective in preaching it. When I have already inhaled the truths from God's Word that I am going to proclaim, I find it so much easier to exhale them. Truths that have not been first received by me will not be easily accepted by others. Your audience knows if you've been where you're trying to take them! Therefore, go there first! Smoke what you're selling! Be affected. Be effective. (Titus 2:7)
     
  6. Your weakness. God's strength. I connect best with the audience through stories of how I have failed, not how I have succeeded. Vulnerability and transparency with my sin and my shortcomings creates an authenticity in communication like nothing else. One of the greatest gifts a preacher can give to their listeners is the comfort that, though they are the preacher, they are working out their own salvation with fear and trembling just like their audience is! Lean into your struggle. Your weakness. God's strength. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)  
     
  7. Absent Spirit. Impotent Word. My words have absolutely no power to transform a life. None at all. Only the Holy Spirit of God can convict a heart. Only the Holy Spirit of God can cause change. Only the Holy Spirit of God can bring salvation. Know your role. We prepare. The Holy Spirit brings the power. We talk. The Holy Spirit transforms. We communicate. The Holy Spirit convicts. Plead for God to do what only God can do. Absent Spirit. Impotent Word. (John 16:7-15)
     
  8. Teach Less. Teach More. If I have taught everything in a particular text, but I have conveyed nothing, I have failed. With that in mind, I find communicating one big idea from the text to be more effective than communicating every single point of the text. If there are multiple points in a text, I don't try to preach it all in one sermon, I try to preach it all in one series of sermons. Most times, when less is taught, more can be understood (and applied!). Teach less. Teach more.     
     
  9. Let it out. Let it go. I will drive myself crazy if, after I preach, I worry too much about how "good" I did or how "effective" I was. I will become too self-absorbed if I find myself unhealthily looking for affirmation or approval from my listeners. With that in mind, my mantra when I finish a sermon is, "Because I let it out, I can let it go." All I can do is be obedient to what God was leading me to say. If I did that, I can rest easy. The results are up to Him. Let it out. Let it go. (Isaiah 55:11)
     
  10. Son first. Preacher second. My identity is not in what I say about God. My identity is in what God has already said about me! I am a prodigal who has already been received before I am a preacher who longs to be accepted. I don't preach for God's approval, I preach from God's approval. If I am preaching to "become somebody," I am not going to help anybody! Son first. Preacher second. Don't get it twisted. (Ephesians 1:3-5)

I'd love to hear about the preaching lessons you've picked up along the way! Feel free to share them in the comments below! 

3 YEARS PLANTED. 3 LESSONS LEARNED.

Tomorrow, theMOVEMENT will celebrate 3 years of ministry in the city of Oakland. 3 years of passionately proclaiming the gospel, relentlessly reaching the lost, deliberately developing disciples, strategically serving the city, and methodically multiplying leaders.

In an effort to make the next three years even more productive and life-giving than the first three years, I wanted to take some time to think through the most valuable leadership lessons I have learned as the lead pastor of a church plant in the Bay Area. As leadership expert John C. Maxwell says,

"Experience isn't the best teacher - evaluated experience is."

So here is my best shot at evaluating my leadership experiences over the past three years.

Lesson #1: The depth of your love determines the height of your leadership.

The depth of my love for, intimacy with, and awe of Jesus Christ determines the height of my spiritual leadership. I cannot lead beyond my love. I can only lead people to love and be enamored with Christ to the degree that I am in love and enamored with Christ's love for me. My personal relationship with and connection to Jesus Christ must be my first priority because a relationship with Christ is the source from which all effective spiritual leadership flows. (John 15)

Additionally, the depth of my love for people also determines the height of my leadership effectiveness. People don't care how much I know until they are convinced of how much I care and love them. Until a person gets a sense of my leadership being more about what I want for them rather than what I want from them, they will be hesitant to allow themselves to be led. But the moment they are convinced that my leadership in their lives is flowing from a genuine love for who they are and who God is calling them to be, there is no limit to the leadership impact I can have! (1 Corinthians 13)

Lesson #2: You must grieve well to lead well.

Because pastoral and ministry leadership has everything to do with people, grief is a reality. People will come then people will go. People will commit then people will quit. People will lean in then people will opt out. People will love you then people will hate you. (Yes, people who once loved you, will actually hate you. It sucks. Bad.) People will be called here then people will be called "there."

And regardless of whether or not these "goodbye's" are healthy or not, the unfortunate truth is, grief will accompany them all. It's not a matter of if people will leave your ministry and you will be hurt, it's a matter of when. And when it happens, how you grieve will make all the difference in whether or not you can continue to lead effectively.

Hurt leaders, hurt followers. If you do not grieve well, your unprocessed grief can become your team's biggest pain! Your unidentified hurt can become a distraction to you being able to fully love and engage with the people who have stayed. Your unattended to sadness can steal the joy of what God still has in store for you. (James 4:8-9, Matthew 5:4)

Though I have, in no way, mastered the art of grieving well, here are a few things that have helped me to process the various losses I've experienced over the last three years:

  1. Write out the reasons why you are grieved over someone departing from your life and ministry.
  2. Take responsibility for and repent of (to the person if possible) any sin you have committed that resulted in the departure.
  3. Forgive the departed person by relinquishing your desire for them to "pay" for any sin they may have committed against you.
  4. Pray and be hopeful and happy for the next season in the departed person's life. 

Lesson #3: The product of leadership far exceeds the price you'll pay.

Long hours. Late nights. Early mornings. Having confrontational conversations. Expending emotional energy. Spending personal finances. Praying. Planning. Hiring. Firing. Teaching. Training. Disciplining. Developing. This is the price of spiritual leadership.

Transformed lives. Restored relationships. Healed marriages. Watching joy return. Seeing hope renewed. Enjoying purpose released. Every time someone takes a step of obedience. Every time someone takes a leap of faith. Every time someone breaks a pattern on sin. This is the product of spiritual leadership. 

And I am convinced, the product far exceeds the price! The return far exceeds the investment! The joy of the harvest far exceeds the toil of the planting! (Hebrews 12)

I am so thankful for the lessons I have learned over the first three years of my church planting journey. It is my sincere prayer and hope that they would not only serve me well during my next season of leadership, but that they would serve you well also!

4 QUESTIONS I ASK MYSELF TO CRAFT AN INTRIGUING INTRODUCTION

Thursdays are the days I spend the majority of my day preparing for the message I am going to preach on Sunday. In addition to studying the text, preparing my Keynote slides, and doing a lot of praying (a LOT of praying!), there are several questions that I force myself to answer before I conclude my preparation for the day.

Over the next several days I want to share with you the questions I ask myself. Here are the questions I ask myself to help me set up my INTRODUCTION:

  1. What is a compelling question that I can frame the message with that both unbelievers and believers would be interested in the answer to? [This gives the audience a "reason" to listen.]
  2. What is a personal story I can share of how I have recently dealt with the issue this message addresses? [This connects the audience with me and my humanity.]
  3.  What are several general ways that the audience has dealt with or is dealing with the issue that is being addressed? [This further connects the audience with the message.]
  4. What is at stake if myself and the audience do not understand the answer to the question being posed? [This adds "gravity" and "weight" to the message.]

I spend a significant time on how I "set-up" my message because I am convinced that it's not enough to just "teach the Bible" on Sundays. I must show those I am ministering to how what I am about to teach has implications and applications for their life that truly matter.

I liken the introduction to a message to how I feel about the first few pages of a book. If a book doesn't get my attention in the first few pages, I'll most likely put the book down and never get to "the rest" of what the book has to offer! Similarly, if I can't get the audience to care about what I'm going to say in the first 5 minutes, it will be very difficult to keep them engaged for the next 35!

HOW TO RECOVER FROM A MAJOR PREACHING MISTAKE

Today I was made aware that, in my message on Sunday, I used an illustration that was insensitive and hurtful to someone in the congregation. Though I did not intend to, in any way, be hurtful, it didn't change the fact that the person (and potentially others) was/were hurt and offended by the comments that I made. Thankfully, this person had enough courage to share how I hurt her so that I could be made aware of my insensitivity and of my blindspots.

Though it grieved me to hear how I had been hurtful, this circumstance does bring up a great learning opportunity for me. It gives me the opportunity to determine how I will respond when I am "called out" for communicating in a way that isn't the best. 

Being that I preach in my local church at least 40 times a year, I preach outside of my local church at least 5 times a year, and I blog daily, this will not be the last time I say or post words that are unintentionally hurtful or offensive to others. But, when this does happen again, I want to be the type of person who takes responsibility for his words. 

I don't know if I did so well doing this today when I spoke to the person that I had hurt, but I hope from this day forward I can keep the following things in mind when I am made aware of a mistake with my words:

1. LISTEN. DON'T EXPLAIN.

When I have made a mistake with my words, I need to listen carefully to the person correcting me. I need to hear out exactly how what I said was particularly hurtful, offensive, or insensitive. Early on in the conversation I must put the emphasis on listening how I was hurtful and not on explaining why I said what I said.  

2. EMPATHIZE. DON'T EXCUSE.

After hearing and understanding how what I said was not the best, I need to empathize deeply with the person's pain or concern. I need to put myself in their shoes and let them know I can see and understand how they could be hurt or offended by what I said. At this point in the conversation I must put the emphasis on validating their feelings not on excusing my behavior.  

3. APOLOGIZE. DON'T ESCAPE.

When I am clear on how I have failed someone with my words and the person who I have failed is clear that I understand them, I must apologize sincerely for my actions. I must take complete responsibility for my mistake and ask for the person's forgiveness. By the end of the conversation, the emphasis must be on me apologizing for what I said and not on avoidingthe consequences for my behavior.  

In addition to this unfortunate circumstance giving me the opportunity to reflect upon how I intend to handle situations like this in the future, it also made me thankful for a congregation who is patient with a sinful, flawed, pastor like me! To be loved and appreciated not only when you "succeed" but also when you "fail" is a gift from God. I am so humbled by the privilege I have to lead our church, and I hope that in the coming months and years I can lead in a way that is more edifying and encouraging to the people and more pleasing and glorifying to God.

3 AMAZING JOYS OF BEING A POINT-LEADER

Last week I reflected upon some reasons why I hate being a point-leader. Though I believe it was very therapeutic for me to think through some of my frustrations with point-leadership, I think it will serve me and others well to share the things I love most about leading in the capacity that I do. After all, though the lows of leadership may be low, as you will see in this list, the highs are high!

1. THE SUCCESS IS PERSONAL

As a point-leader no one experiences the joy, excitement, and satisfaction of progress being made towards the organization's mission and vision than I do. Very few emotions can compare to the feeling of dreaming up a preferred future and seeing it come to pass as a result of time, effort, and energy that you and your team put forth. The realization that the positive results that the organization is experiencing may not have come to pass without your bold and courageous point-leadership is very personally satisfying!

Though the joy of the success of an organization can be shared by all, the degree of joy is directly related to one's emotional attachment to and responsibility for the organization's success. And no one is more emotionally attached and feels more responsible than the point-leader!

2. THE TEAM IS ENJOYABLE

Without a team, there is nothing for a point-leader to lead. The point-leader's team is what makes a point-leader a point-leader! With that in mind, it is one of my life's greatest joys to identify, recruit, develop, and deploy a team of people to pursue the accomplishment of a mission.

As a point-leader, I have the privilege of casting a compelling vision to potential team members in an effort to have them fill key roles on the team. As a point-leader, I have the privilege of placing new team members in the roles that suit them most and serve the organization best. As a point-leader I have the privilege of not only developing the skills and competencies of the individual team members, but also the culture and values of the team as a whole. Finally, as a point-leader I have the privilege of sending the team out with encouragement, hope and excitement!

Each of these aspects of team-building are super enjoyable! The meetings, the conversations, the brain-storming sessions, the meals eaten, the experiences shared, the victories celebrated - there is such joy in a journey taken together. I really couldn't tell you what part of point-leadership I love more: the success the team creates or the creation of a successful team!       

3. THE CHANGE IS POSSIBLE

As a point-leader, no one has more ability to catalyze change than I do. If the organization is drifting from its' mission, wavering in its' commitments, or faltering in the achievement of its' goals, point-leaders can, like no one else in the organization, initiate change. If the organization or business is structured properly the point-leader should have the least amount of "red tape" in their way stopping them from doing what needs to be done to get the results the organization is intending to get.

Point-leadership is exhilarating because if there is something that needs to be changed, we can change it. If there is an opportunity to be pursued, we can pursue it. If there is an obstacle to overcome, we can overcome it. Point-leaders can't place blame, make excuses, or avoid responsibility, and when there is no one else to blame but yourself, you are actually empowered to do something about it! And though that may be a heavy burden to bear for some, to the point-leader, the opportunity to pursue change with as few hindrances as possible is one of the things we love most about the opportunity we've been given!

3 HARSH REALITIES OF BEING THE POINT-LEADER

Throughout the years, though there have been many things that I love about point leadership, I have come to absolutely hate (I know hate is a strong word, but it best describes how I feel!) three things in particular:

1. THE RESPONSIBILITY IS HEAVY

As the point leader, no one feels and experiences the weight of responsibility for the success and effectiveness of the organization like we do. No one is as burdened with seeing the mission and vision of the organization come to fruition as we are. No one feels more accountable for the results of the organization, whether bad or good, than we do.

I hate that the responsibility is heavy because the weight of it is something that never changes! There is absolutely nothing I can do to feel less responsible, I'm the leader! All I can do is learn to carry the weight of responsibility more effectively. 

2. THE CRITIQUE IS RELENTLESS

As a point leader, no one is more of a target for criticism, blame, and flat out hate than we are. No one experiences the onslaught of "feedback" of things we can be doing better, things we could be doing more of, and things we should be doing less! No one is confronted by the never ending opinions (which are often times right!) of the things that need to be changed for the organization to reach its' full potential than us.

I hate that the critique is relentless because, many times, it just hurts! The manner in which many people go about the matter of providing feedback is, often times, insensitive, untimely, and rude.

I also hate that the critique is relentless because, whether people know it or not, point leaders are just as relentless about improving as their critics are at communicating what needs to be improved! So every time a new critique comes, the point leader has another thing to add to his already long list of things he's working to make better!  

3. THE FAILURE IS DEVASTATING

As a point leader, no one is more negatively affected by missed goals and missed opportunities than we are. No one is more saddened by ways in which the organization failed or let people down than we are. Whether it is with staff, members, customers, or potential clients, no is more crushed by an organizations inability to meet expectations than the point leader. When something the organization intends to do doesn't get done, it is the point leader who is most discouraged by missing the mark.

I hate that failure is devastating because organizational failure is an inescapable reality! Every time an organization tries something new, the potential for failure is present. On my best day, the devastation of failure cannot be avoided, it can only be managed.