Relational Leadership

You may not know this about me yet, but I used to be a Computer Science major in college.  After two years, I changed my major, like many students frequently do, to Management because I decided that I would rather spend most of my time in life working with people rather than typing and debugging lines of code in a computer lab.  I probably could have double-majored as much of my day is still spent typing away on a laptop, and many of my nights are spenting working with people.  Many of the projects at church find me equally dependent upon my computer and my management skills.  Who would have thought that I’d end up a pastor where both skills come into play?

When it comes to leadership, I’ve been a huge fan of John Maxwell’s books on leadership.  He has many, many books on the topic if you’ve never read any of them.  My favorites are…

Developing The Leader Within You and Developing The Leaders Around You

I’m starting this Leadership topic because I just finished the final dress rehearsal for our upcoming Christmas Musical, and it has been a long journey to get here.  There have been many tasks and projects that helped to stretch me in my God-given gift of leadership.  Much of the daily “ins and outs” of my job as a pastor have to do with leading and managing people.  Maybe some of these posts will help clarify some of the qualities that I strive for in my own leadership style, and in turn, help you develop more as a leader yourself.

I believe that one of the most important qualities of a great leader is that a leader is relational.  That belief was either started or reinforced through reading Maxwell’s books.  If one can’t maintain a solid relationship with others as one leads, especially when working in a volunteer setting like a church, people will pull out on the task or project, and there will be great difficulty in accomplishing the goal.  You may accomplish the goal but alienate people, who are far more important than the goal, in the process.  In fact, when it comes to leadership, people are always the goal.  A manager doesn’t necessarily have to be relational to accomplish the task, but a great leader does.  By that, I mean, you don’t have to actually like a manager at work, yet you’ll still be held accountable to do your job.  But if you don’t like a leader in an area where you volunteer, that leader can’t hold you accountable to complete the task, so you will most likely just quit volunteering.  It takes more relational skills to be a great leader than it does to be a manager.

Putting together all that we have done for this Christmas Musical required a great team of volunteers to accomplish the original vision.  As I’ve led, there have been some tasks that were very difficult and required a great deal of time and energy to be able to accomplish them.  At times, it was a great struggle, that stretched myself and others on the team.  The cost in volunteer man hours and the commitment level needed were great.  Without a strong relational tie and a genuine friendship with those on the team, I don’t think we could have accomplished what we have together when things got tough and stressful.

So to all of my co-laborers in this act of love and worship of our God in performing this year’s Christmas Musical…

I thank you for the many hours you have sacrificed to make the vision possible.  I’ve worked hard, and you’ve worked equally as hard at my side and on your own to accomplish this mission.  But most of all, thank you for the relationship we have as friends that makes it possible to accomplish such great things for the Kingdom together.  I hope that you are as happy and excited as I am with the finished project.  But more than that, I hope that the process was one that deepened our relationship with each other and developed and stretched your own leadership gifts.  I hope that you will be even more excited to join PD’s team for next year’s musical…or the next idea or project that PD comes up with…for God’s glory.

BTW, one of my favorite quotes on leadership is “He who thinks he is leading and then turns around to find no one is following is merely taking a walk.”  Don’t know if that was a Chinese proverb or a Maxwell quote.

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