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Today we are going to continue our discussion of the difference between transactional leadership and relational leadership.

If you are a purely transactional leader, you will only see people for what they can contribute.  Every leader loves it when someone shows up with a smile and brings fresh commitment to their ministry.  We welcome them with open arms.  And, if you are a leader, you look beyond the pretty smile and you see all that they have to offer.

In a transactional environment, there will usually be high turnover.  No matter how inspiring the vision, if people are not personally valued they will become disillusioned and ultimately leave.  I would hope that we can create such healthy cultures that the people who work with us can’t imagine going someplace else.  And, that our people love coming to work and would authentically recommend that their friends apply for a position with our church.

One danger of a transactional mindset is that you can end up focusing on the ends and neglect the means.

This is one quality that should set apart churches from many secular companies.  We are not just people of the “ends”, we are people of the “means”.  We don’t just care about accomplishing a vision or achieving the desired end result.  We must care about “how” it gets done.  We must care about the “how” as much as the “what”.  

Jesus cares just as much about how we treat people along the path to fulfilling our vision as he does if we accomplish the vision.

Let me say it more clearly and directly.  It’s not OK to trample on people in the name of mission and vision. 

To be more personal than transactional we must authentically demonstrate to people that our highest concern is what we want “for” them not what we want “from” them.

And this will get tested.  It may come to the point where you need to ask people to take a leave of absence because it’s best for them or best for their marriage.  

I’m a pretty simple guy.  One of the things people often comment on when I preach is that my message is “simple”.  I think they mean it as a compliment but the truth is I’m not smart enough to preach over anybody’s head.

So, let me get real simple about being more personal than transactional.

When you go down and open a bank account with your local bank, you start with a zero balance.  And, so let’s say you make a $100 deposit.  Now, you’ve got a positive balance.  But then you go out and start writing checks from that account.  And in the first 2 weeks you write checks for $683. Now, you are desperately overdrawn.  And there are all kinds of additional costs for being overdrawn.

When it comes to the people who serve on our teams, some of us are desperately overdrawn.  We made an initial deposit when we were trying to get them on the team. We took them out for lunch or paid for their latte.  We told them we would love to have them on the team.  We said that we saw lots of potential in them and we want to do anything we can to help them succeed.  Then, they join the team and we stop making relational deposits.  But we have been making withdrawal after withdrawal with all the tasks and extra assignments and special project.

If you want to be a great BIBLICAL, CHRIST HONORING leader, always make sure you are making bigger relational deposits than transactional withdrawals.  

In one church I pastored, we had a couple volunteer to be small group leaders.  They were somewhat reserved and I was surprised that they had a desire to lead a group.  They didn’t have big personalities nor obvious leadership skills.  But they were one of the best small group leaders I have ever seen.  What they lacked in charisma they made up for in relational skills.  They authentically loved the people in their group and were in their lives.  They were consistently making relational deposits and the people in their group would have followed them anywhere.

By the way, making relational deposits is what earns you the right to give honest coaching.  When I know you authentically love me, it is much easier to receive coaching on the areas where I need to improve.  And, it’s much easier to receive correction.

One of my goals for these articles is to make them highly practical.  So, let me give you the top 5 ideas for making relational deposits in those you work with.

1. Take the time to listen to their life story

When you know someone’s story, it is a major relational deposit and it creates a bond between you.  And it is amazing what you can learn about someone just by having them share their story.

2. Slow down and be present

When you are talking with someone on your team, put down your phone, look them in the eye and give them your full and focused attention.

3. Pray with them and for them

Make it normal that you pray with those on your team.  And don’t just pray for their ministry, pray for them personally.

4. Be developmental

Care about the personal growth and development of those on your team.

5. Demonstrate care for their family

It might be simply asking how somebody’s kid is doing in soccer this year.  It might be visiting a family member in the hospital.  It could be sending a card for someone’s anniversary.  It could be giving someone the afternoon off so they can spend it with their family.  

Jack Herschend is a great example of a busy leader who consistently made relational deposits.  He was the CEO of an entertainment company that ran theme parks.  One day he was asked “how do you do it?  We’re all busy with conflicts and demands on our time, so how do you always seem to write the perfect note at the perfect time?”  Jack’s response was “I spend the first 20 minutes of my day reflecting on the day before.  I think about what behavior I saw that should be encouraged and then I write a note to reinforce it and say ‘thanks’”.

I hope that today you will commit to being a more relational leader. 

Lance is the founder of Replenish ministries and is often referred to as a Pastor’s Pastor.  He is also the author of the book Replenish, which is dedicated to helping leaders live and lead from a healthy soul.  Before launching Replenish, Lance served 20 years as a senior pastor and 6 years as an Executive/Teaching pastor at Saddleback Church. 

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Cece Tizz

commented on Jul 18, 2017

What a great reminder. This wisdom can be utilized in church, work AND at home. Thank you!

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