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57 Leadership Insights Learned the Hard Way

Joe McKeever

JoeMckeever.com
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Editor's Note

This article by Joe McKeever is actually a summary of 57 other articles by Joe on the topic of church leadership. If you wish to read an expanded version of each point below, simply click on the links below each point. Or, visit JoeMcKeever.com directly.

1. Delegate.
Just because you do a job better than someone else does not mean you should do it.
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2. Follow-Up.
People do not do what you expect; they do what you inspect.
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3. Earn the Right to Lead.
Still your impatience and earn the right to the congregation's trust before making difficult decisions.
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4. Appreciate Your Support Team.
A pastor depends on his wife and family, other ministers and countless others in his service for God.
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5. Know When to Give In.
In some conflicts, maintaining harmony and unity is more important than being right.
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6. Learn from Your Failures and Go Forward.
“If you want to succeed, you must prepare to fail."
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7. Discipline Yourself.
A great purpose drives self-discipline; you can tell yourself “no,” and you can bring yourself to do the hard thing.
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8. Remember Names and Use Them.
There is just no substitute for a pastor learning the names of the members, even if there’s a lot of them. The payoff is well worth the effort.
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9. Sometimes Leaders Must Follow; Do it Well.
It takes great strength and maturity to recognize when another has the gifts and training to lead in a situation where you do not, and to turn it over to him.
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10. Your Brother is Your Partner, not a Competitor.
There is no competition between lighthouses, and there shouldn't be between God’s family members.
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11. Be Tactful.
The time for bluntness does not come around as often as people think; far more often, situations call for kindness.
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12. Know Yourself Inside and Out.
Unless we also know our weaknesses and protect ourselves in those areas, we will be defeated at the very moment we are doing what we do well—and will be completely surprised in the process.
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13. Keep Your Idealism, but Lose the Perfectionism.
Since the God of perfection does not expect perfection from us, we would do well to cut ourselves and our friends a little slack.
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14. Keep Your People Informed.
If you expect your constituents to respond when you lead out, don't wait to the last minute to bring them on board.
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15. If You are the Leader, Then Lead.
The Bible says the pastor takes orders for the congregation “for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:15) Be sure of the will of God, then do it.
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16. Clean Up Your Act.
Learn to speak correct English, and drop expressions that offend the hearer, detract from the point, or debase the speaker.
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17. Give Yourself Time to Think.
Anyone who would accomplish anything in the service of God and man needs to carve out for himself a circumference of silence every day and protect it jealously.
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18. Know When to be Soft and When to be Firm.
Sometimes encouragement takes a pat on the back; at other times it takes a kick in the seat.
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19. Provide for Feedback.
A pastor will either make a way for his members and staff to bring comments and suggestions and findings to his attention, or the entire program will suffer.
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20. Watch the Money!
Refrain from handling money in your church and avoid a personal lifestyle that appears to be above your means. Set an example for your congregation; don’t follow theirs.
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21. Tell the Truth.
Accurately present your church’s statistics (baptisms, attendance, giving totals, etc.) at all times. Nothing undermines the loyalty of your team members so much as them watching you present exaggerated results of your ministry.
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22. Be Transparent.
There is no place in the Kingdom of God, or in any of the methodologies that the Holy Spirit employs, for manipulation, subterfuge, camouflage, or anything less than open-handed honesty.
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23. Set the Mood.
See your congregation and your staff as God sees them, as they are in Him, what they shall become, and what the Holy Spirit is going to empower them to do.
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24. Finish Strong.
No one gets credit on the scoreboard for having started well; it's how you finish that tells the story.
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25. Watch Your Reputation.
What the public thinks of you will often determine whether they trust you; even God values His reputation.
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26. Guard Your Integrity; No One Else Will.
The ability to say 'no' is one of the minister's greatest strengths; he must never do anything to hamper his power to utter that single syllable.
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27. Keep Restocking the Shelves.
Guard your time for continuing education, and then do it—and do not feel guilty about it.
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28. Keep Renewing Your Commitment to Lead.
God has made you a leader, and what people decide or don't decide about your leadership has little to do with anything.
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29. Love the Church, or Go Into Some Other Line of Work.
The great majority of Christians never comprehend how much they are meant to love the Lord's church.
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30. Be Kind to Your Predecessor; Someday You’ll be One.
Beware of underestimating and thereby insulting the hard work of the one who preceded you. Refrain from demeaning the work of others in the family of God.
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31. Develop a Spine.
There is a time to listen to the input of others, but eventually the time comes to stand up and make a decision.
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32. Welcome Change—You Might as Well.
Although God Himself never changes, God is all about change—to the deepest level all over His ever-changing universe. Embrace it and be used by Him in it.
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33. Expect Hardship.
Just because "the Lord is in it" or it's the will of God does not guarantee success. We do not follow Jesus because the way is easy; we follow Him because it's the only way.
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34. Be Careful About Preaching Your Convictions.
God did not send us to preach our convictions, but the Word of Christ. Never make the mistake of giving our convictions an equal place with God’s Word.
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35. Humor is Good; Don’t Overdo It.
Knowing when to tell a funny story and when to squelch it is a sign of maturity.
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36. Speak Well, but Don’t Overtalk.
We who have the greatest message ever should take pains to make certain we get a good hearing when we begin to share it. Endeavor to speak fewer (and better) words.
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37. Get Humble and Stay That Way.
There are so many reasons to be humble and so many temptations not to. Get your eyes off yourself and on to Jesus.
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38. Recognition is Good; Just Don’t Need It.
Appreciation is good, and we ought to give it freely and honestly. Just don't let it fool you into thinking you're something you're not, and don’t require it in order to do your best work.
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39. Keep Good Records, Even a Journal.
There is no way to overstate the importance of keeping good records; such records have been known to settle disputes and save a lot of grief or even money.
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40. Pray, Pray, Pray. (I apologize for making it #40.)
The leader’s biggest danger is that he will try to lead people in directions the Lord is not leading them. Prayer is the best thing you can do; therefore, it ought to be the first.
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41. Slough Off the Petty Stuff.
Don't go manufacturing any troubles for yourself where none exist.
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42. Take Your Lumps.
Your congregation, your staff, your people are not your Lord. Whether they thrill at your words or balk at the sound of your voice, be faithful to what the Lord calls you to do.
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43. Train Your People to Become Leaders.
Use God’s example: do not force obedience or loyalty, but share power and allow decisions, differences, mistakes and reconciliation.
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44. Train Your People to be Faithful Followers.
Teach your people to complement the leader’s strengths with their own, speak up if they see him about to make a mistake, and give him room to be human.
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45. Make Full Use of Your Greatest Resources.
The Holy Spirit. The Holy Bible. We have both a Guide and Light, one to accompany us and the other to illumine the way. We need never be lost or confused again.
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46. Keep Your Focus on the Main Thing.
Find out who you are and offer it to the community in Christ’s name. Don’t risk going out of business because you forgot what you’re in business for.
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47. Restrain Your Ego, or You’re in Trouble.
Nothing heads you on the road to disaster like shutting down negative voices and giving full vent to your ego.
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48. Your Attitude is Contagious; Keep it Positive.
Faith is contagious. Unfortunately, so is fear.
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49. Say “No” a Lot.
Discipline yourself from any activity or project that interferes with Christ’s goal for your life.
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50. Don’t Think of Yourself as a Leader—Think “People-Helper.”
Say “we” a lot, not “I”, “me”, and “mine”. Ask, 'How's it going?' a lot, and listen to the answers. Pray with your people, even at odd times.
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51. Deal with Rebellion Quickly.
Your job is not to make the congregation happy; your task is to make it healthy and to make the Lord happy. If you are not going to protect the flock, you are no shepherd.
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52. Never Hesitate to Challenge People to Greatness
Like Christ, let us never hesitate to call people out of death to life, out of complacency to commitment, from the partial to the complete, and from the comfortable to the sacrificial.
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53. Someone Has to Ride Drag
Select faithful, mature people to share the burdens of church leadership.
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54. Avoid the Disconnect Trap
The preacher who fails to see the connection between his Sunday ministry and the life he leads during the week will bring great shame, embarrassment and disappointment to God and those nearest him.
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55. Vision: Don’t Leave Home Without It
One can have a vision but no leadership, but real leadership requires a vision.
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56. Moral Courage, True Leadership
Moral courage does not act rashly but considers the cost, speaking truth to power and refusing to stand idly by while others engage in wrong or hurtful acts.
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57. Leadership Has Secrets?
Courage is not the absence of fear—it's inspiring others to move beyond it. Nothing is black or white. Quitting is leading too.
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Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at JoeMckeever.com.

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