Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Everybody Has an Opinion

Dear Pastors,
Okay, I know that my title is an overstatement. Most people have opinions. Especially about your church. They have a vision and a direction that they think your church should go. Whenever you get two visions in the house, you ultimately get di-vision. Now, I don't want to give the impression that I think leaders get it right all the time. We need to stay teachable and humble before God recognizing that we might not get it right all the time. But, vision flows from God into the heart of a leader and then is fleshed out in the context of a team who resonates and embraces the vision.

But, I'm learning something about leadership and vision. Five years ago when I met with someone from our church who had a different vision than the one God had already given, I would listen to their ideas and lead them to believe that the church would become more of what they wanted it to become. (*There is that evil people pleasing side of me that wants to be liked.)

So, I would have that conversation and then 3 months later the person would come back to me and they would be frustrated. They'd say, "I thought this was going to change!" In essence, I ended up wasting their time and my time. They were disappointed and I was angry. So now, I've found a solution that is more biblical and still teachable.

When someone comes to me with a point where they think I/we might be a little off with the vision, I acknowledge that it's possible that I might be off. I take good notes... then, I honestly acknowledge that I will spend time in prayer and seek God about this. At the same time, I want to make sure that this person understands the vision of our church. I clarify that they should expect that our vision is not going to change. The direction of our church, the values God has given and our mission is not going to change... And our strategy will continue to unfold as we move forward. If they are going to stay at our church they must understand this and not feel the need to come back with the same issue over and over. If they make the assessment that this church is not heading the direction they want to go... they have 3 options... stay and be frustrated, find a church where they agree with the vision or start a church of their own.

I hope you understand. I'm not at all bitter. I am hungry to keep learning and growing. I am no where near perfect. I have flaws and don't get it right 100% of the time. At the same time, I am honestly seeking God. I am striving to follow Christ with radical obedience in my marriage, in my parenting and in my leadership. I believe I have heard him from Him regarding the vision of South Bay Church. I believe He is confirming that in our team, I believe He is rewarding that with genuine fruit and evidence of His approval.

What I am saying to you leaders is this:

Be teachable and moldable, but be firm in the vision God is giving you. This is the tension. Let God speak to you about advice/counsel. If it is from him, repent... If it's not keep on trucking my friend. At the same time, do not have multiple meetings with people about the same thing. I have done this... It never solved the problem. This is called, "distraction." Just like Nehemiah you have to stay on the wall. There are people to be reached, a kingdom that must be advanced, and a vision that must be executed. Your church, your staff, your family, your community, they all need you stay focused leader!!