Posts tagged ‘church’

August 4, 2010

How to love your new pastor…..

by Rod Smith

Walk wisely with new leadership

Let’s talk about the part you play when the new pastor arrives. How do we intentionally love (really love) the new pastor? I am fully aware the new pastor could be a woman but I am gong to use the pronoun “he” and avoid the bulky “he/she” during the entire sermon.

Let’s read this Scripture from Philippians 2. It so alerts us to the need for the Spirit of humility within us all that is always helpful.

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! 9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Wow – what a challenge to us all. Remain who you are, keep your personal vision, and your individual calling and yet be united. Be like-minded. Avoid vain conceit. Such people would be a joy to lead and the leader who is Christ-like would be a joy to follow. Perhaps not!

Let’s talk about leadership:

Leading anything can be very lonely

Leadership, leading anything, is perhaps among the toughest of challenges any man or woman can face – I’d suggest the other tough challenges, and not in this order are being a stepparent, running a family business, grieving the death of a loved one. These are the true tests of life that stretch the full capacity of our humanity.

But let me stay with leadership: I am of the opinion that people often say they want a leader, a leader who will foster the organization into great growth and change, to paradigm shifts, and into a new era, but then immediately begin to behave in a manner that suggests they do not want any of the changes they hired the person to implement.

Even Jesus found leadership difficult. Study the Gospels and you will see him struggling to lead people – even his disciples. It seems that on one day he is enthroned, and the next day he is derailed, denied, and dismissed. Early in his ministry he gains enormous popularity, while also he is asked not to enter some towns. They don’t want him or want what they think he represents. We see him hailed as the one who would “say it like it is” – until he “says it like it is” is to the “wrong” people.

This is part of the difficulty of being a leader, there are always fans and followers, and there are always tough decisions to make, decisions that put the leader’s relationship with those very fans and followers in jeopardy.

While he is hailed as a leader people who knew him from his hometown question his qualifications, and some are cruel enough, as recorded in John 8, to try and put him in a spot about being born to unwed parents. At one point the crowds want to march him to Jerusalem and declare him King. At another point, people want to hoard together and kill him. Being a leader is a tough job. Putting yourself “out there” as a leader is always costly – and it will be to whomever comes on a permanent basis to serve this community as pastor. Ministry is costly business. Leadership is not easy. It’s messy.

Browse the mega-bookstore and there you will see hundreds of books on leadership of every kind and for every institution. The pitfalls are so many and it is quite common to blame the leader whenever anything in any organization goes wrong.

But the followers, or the co-workers, also have a role when it comes to leadership and to being led. People tend to visit their leaders, especially church leaders with all kinds of personal issues, and often will be as petulant and demanding with their pastors as they once were in their families as they were when children. In a manner similar to our political leaders, we elect them so that we can spend the next four years trying to get rid of them.

As we prepare ourselves for a new pastor, let’s be reminded that:

Prepare yourself for new leadership

1. We, the church, are employing the pastor, not his wife or his children. Let’s let the wife and children off the hook.
2. Be careful not to love him too much, too quickly. Any kind of love takes a long time to develop, and people who are quick to enthrone will usually be as quick to dethrone. Perhaps you have noticed this phenomenon already? And look at the kind of love you offer. We tend to want to take care of our pastors as if they are not quite capable of taking care of themselves. It is very subtle. I have seen people scurry to the pastor’s every need as if the church was the parent and the pastor was a spoiled child.
3. Give him a lot of room to be human and it is likely he will allow you similar latitude.
4. Don’t expect too much from your pastor. A lot has to occur for change to occur. And change just might not please you very much. It might be a little different than you predict. It might challenge your stereotypes of what makes a healthy and growing church.
5. Be fully responsible for your own spiritual health and wellbeing. It is unfair to place such a burden on anyone – and I have heard it so often and in so many places. “I am just not being fed. We are moving to the bigger better church. The one with the food court and the roller coasters for the young people.”
6. Try to be honest enough to allow God’s work within you to occur, without getting into a flurry because he doesn’t see eye-to-eye with you on the hot issues of the church. Look for purity in your own life before you test his theology on political or theological issues. There are more important matters in the Body of Christ than you getting your way.
7. Any person coming to be your pastor will be a cross-cultural experience, even if he is from your neighborhood. Every community has its own well-defined culture, its own set ways of thinking and seeing and doing things, and any person coming will have to take some time to understand you – as you will have to give them time to be understood. He might have different politics than you think any Christian could possible ever have, he might believe something you could never consider a Christian believing. This is a complex and diverse world and we all get to learn something new from the experience of calling a new pastor.

Leadership is fraught with perils as people almost naturally resist leadership that is good. Good leadership will challenge everything about who you are and what your faith is all about. This is no because he tries to fix you, or change you, or manipulate you (leadership never stoops to such ploys) but because he will be living fully in your midst and his living fully will shake you up. Become prayerful about the new pastor – not in a manner you have already been doing – but in a way that changes you and not him – and makes you ready for his (or her) arrival.

June 30, 2010

If you lead anything at all – take note……

by Rod Smith

Get involved in planning the future YOU want....1. Get your focus off those whom you lead and onto your own increased level of functioning. Your own level of functioning must become your primary focus. While you constantly monitor or micro-manage others, your anxieties and not your vision, will drive and shape your organization.
2. Articulate the vision of your organization as frequently, clearly, succinctly, and efficiently as possible. Perhaps the most essential part of what you do remains the repeated articulation of your vision.
3. Resist your inner urge or the outside pressure to grow in empathy or understanding, patience, or tolerance at the expense of presenting your people and organization with necessary challenges. Those who consistently call for more understanding, empathy, and more tolerance are usually trying to shift the focus off their own refusal to be responsible for themselves. It is the “kind people” (those who call for more understanding and empathy) who will do your organization more harm than those who willingly face and meet the challenges that come with every group of people who come together for a common purpose.
4. Leaders who really make a significant difference, bring the most helpful change to their organizations, seldom do so without significant resistance – usually from the most unexpected sources.

December 8, 2007

Habits of Highly Annoying Adults (with respect, Mr. Covey)

by Rod Smith

Dedicated to Younger Readers (From my book: A SHORT COURSE IN GOOD MANNERS for Middle School and All other Humans)

I would love to speak at your event...

I would love to speak at your event…

I will not apologize for adults who treat you with less than good manners, but I will try to articulate a few things that I know annoy younger people about some adults. When dealing with annoying adults, be patient. It might be your opportunity to better equip the adult concerned to understand people who are younger. Keep in mind it is only a matter of time before you will find yourself committing many of the same atrocities toward young people who are, at this point of course, yet to be born.

1. I know you find it annoying when adults try to sound younger than they are. When adults employ your colloquialisms, they are frequently at least a generation or three off, and almost always get the meaning quite wrong. It jars, I know. If you’ve not met it already, you will meet it somewhere in the next handful of years. When I hear it I can hardly disguise my cringe, and so I can only imagine what it does to you. Please, be patient. When I visited Korea this past summer, even my bumbling attempts at “hello” in Korean were appreciated. In fact they were much appreciated. I’d suggest you do the “Korean thing” and accept that at least the adult is trying (no pun intended) to identify with you in some, albeit odd, manner. I’d suggest you mask your amusement and respond with openness and grace. When an adult says, and it is usually quite loudly I’ve noticed, “WAY KHOOL; NO WAY. YES WAY. Oh Grooooovy! Let’s sit around and hang-out and gas, HUH!” in an attempt to “relate” to you, a little bow and a smile from you will go a long way to bridge the gap, which is clearly wider than three or four football fields.

2. I know you find it annoying when adults change their voices – usually into a higher-pitch with an added singsong lilt – in order to talk to you. This is somewhat the equivalent of a waiter asking a sixteen year old if he or she wants a kid’s menu or “carding” your mother or father – although some parents might enjoy being carded. I do not know the reasons some adults do this but I’d suggest you resist all impulses to kick the offender in the shins and then run in the other direction. Talking to you as if you were a newborn puppy is certainly bad manners. Kicking the offender in the shins, while offering you a brief moment of joy, would not solve the problem. A simple, “It is difficult for me to understand you when you sing to me in a baby voice. Will you please assume your normal voice and vocabulary,” will probably assist both parties.

3. I know you find it annoying when adults don’t take your emotional (your feelings) life very seriously. I have heard adults say things like, “She thinks she’s in love at 14!” and similarly insensitive things. While your love at 14 might not be fully developed (as I hope it will be when you are 40) you are apparently feeling feelings that feel like love to you. These feelings are the feelings of love of which you are capable at this time of your life. Yes. I’d suggest that you are as much in love as you might ever be at 14. Enjoy it. It is sad that some adults do not take your love very seriously. My only hope is that you will not close down when it comes to talking about such matters simply because on occasion your feelings were discounted. Again, do the gracious thing. Teach the adults around you about just how authentic your emotional life really is. Be careful. All the adults closest to you will have little doubt about the volatility and the strength of your emotions. It is this very volatility that helps adults feel that all of your feelings cannot possibly always be completely valid or accurate. Learning to govern your behavior and your emotions is both possible and necessary if you are going to be a successful adult. Learn to do both now while you have a lot of “room” to get it right (and wrong).

4. I know you find it annoying when some adults treat you as if you are much younger than you are. Perhaps it is a direct result of wanting to be much younger than they really are. Be patient. Resist the urge to employ your best baby talk or to dribble or urinate on the spot. Being treated like a baby does not mean you get to act like one. A simple, “Please don’t pat my head or squeeze my cheeks or coo at me – I am not a hamster,” will usually do the trick.

5. I know you find it annoying when some adults talk about you as if you are invisible – or at least as if you cannot hear or understand what they are saying about you, and so every private matter of your life is paraded for all the known world to hear while you are standing right in the midst of the discussion feeling as if you are looking in on yourself. The flip side of this is the adult who is suddenly silent when you enter a room and so it is clear you were the topic of conversation or the conversation was about something you are considered too young or too sensitive to understand. Another strand of this virus is the adult who spells words or suddenly switches to Spanish phrases in the belief you will therefore be shielded from whatever it is you are not supposed to hear. Be polite. Little is ever gained by being as poorly mannered in your response to the ignorance of others.

6. I know you find it annoying when some adults turn everything into a race. “Is your grade the highest in the class, the school, the city, the universe?” asks your favorite uncle about your Math score. Before you hit reply he goes on with, “Did you know I have the fastest, and biggest, and most economical car on the block and I was a full partner with my company before your dad graduated from middle school and I own the fastest and most efficient coffee bean grinder in my apartment building which is by the way the largest and tallest one in the largest city in Texas which is by the way the biggest state in the world.” And when you mention that Alaska cut in half is bigger than Texas he tells you not to be a competitive smarty-pants. Be kind to adults who regard life as one big and endless egg-and-spoon race. You might be the first. Enough said.

7. I know you find it annoying when some adults habitually comment on how much you have grown (or changed) since the last time they saw you. First, it is probably true. You are, as you know, growing at a phenomenal rate and while the day to day changes are not quite so noticeable to you, when Aunt Betty drives in annually from Toledo for Thanksgiving, be patient when she sings the same “My how you have grown,” song because you have grown and it gives her a lot of joy to notice and to say she notices. Being patient with an aunt who loves to point out how you have grown or changed – the benefits will be more helpful to you than resisting her joy.