Caring for our leaders

Key priority #5: Invest in leaders

Investing in the care of leaders

‘Jesus said, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”’ – Mark 10:45

As we continue our series exploring our seven key objectives during 2016, I want to spend a few moments looking together at the really important subject of investing in the care of our leaders.

At Life Church we are blessed to have so many tremendously gifted and servant-hearted leaders; people who, week in, week out, pour their lives, creativity, energy, gifts and talents into serving others and making different aspects of who we are as a church grow and develop. To each one of our leaders I want to say a huge thank you! If we’ve not said it enough then, let today be just a small step, underscoring how valued you really are by us. However, as one of the elders, I want Life Church to be a fertile and exciting place to be as a leader. I want it to be a place where you have the maximum opportunity to grow and flourish into a Christ-like servant leader. Please note, that does not necessarily always mean an easy place, but a lush pasture for growth and maturity.

Over this coming year, we want to work more intentionally on creating spaces where our leaders are able to grow and flourish. But how? Here are just six important steps, amongst many:

  1. Nurturing inner lives
    At the heart of the gospel is the belief that we are transformed from the inside out. As a result, caring for leaders must focus on what is going on in their inner worlds, which are made up of memories, world views, emotions, thought patterns and much more. Really getting to grips with what is going on inside can be tough at times, and so this requires contexts where this can be explored in a safe and secure environment. We’ve seen over the last few years how our leadership dinner table discipleship groups have created a safe environment for this to start to happen. We’ve also taken sizeable steps forward through our Going Deep course. But there is much more we can do in this realm, and so over this coming year we want to explore further how we can nurture the inner lives of our leaders.
  2. The investment of kindness
    God has been so wonderfully kind to us as individuals. The culture of care must start with an attitude of kindness towards our leaders. This means creating spaces to listen and to really understand where people are at. It means timely and thoughtful expressions of kindness such as cards, thank-you notes and words of encouragement. The gift of kindness in a busy and frantic world can so easily be lost, but if we’re going to care for our leaders, then this needs to be centre stage.
  3. Helping our leaders to think and feel the gospel
    As a church that loves and prizes the Word and the Spirit, we need to help our leaders to learn how to think deeply and feel consistently in a way that is shaped by the gospel. This means stretching people! This means providing resources and books and videos to watch. It also means helping to move information down into the heart where affection can be shaped and moulded, allowing God’s wonderful truths and his words to impact us at an emotional level. Both are key if we are going to care for our leaders well.
  4. Focusing on potential
    Recently the Generate Team spent a whole day working through the StrengthsFinderassessment. The basic premise of this development tool is to help people really understand what their unique strengths and contributions are to a team. Over the course of the day I saw so many lightbulbs going on as people understood better how they could use their potential to greatest effect as part of the team! My hope and dream is that over this coming season we can get much much better at releasing people into their God-given potential.
  5. Let people lead, fail and learn
    Leadership, until tested, is not really leadership! It’s only as we have a go, realise how much more difficult something is than we thought, revise and adapt and slowly grow that leadership really gets legs. However, in order for loads and loads of people to experience this we need to create a culture where people can have a go, fail (yes!) and learn and grow through the experience. This is an exciting but challenging context to be in. My ambition over this coming season is that we create many more opportunities for this to happen.
  6. Seeing all of life as important (and not just the bits relating to Life Church)
    I know from personal experience that when issues arise in my personal life they have a massive impact on how I lead. Perhaps a relative is unwell, your job is uncertain, or you’ve been struggling to know how to handle an issue with one of your children? These things are important to us and they influence our leadership, so I want us to learn how we can care for our leaders when they’re facing such issues, so that we better care for the whole person.

So what about you? How does this all impact you? I hope this has encouraged you and given you a flavour of the sort of church culture we’re trying to build. Please do pray for all of the leaders at Life Church, that together we will grow in how we care for other leaders (and for the whole church community as a result). Please also pray for us as elders, that over this coming season that we will know specifically how to push this forward.

Adam Bradley

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