We talk about leadership all the time. That’s what Children’s Ministry Leader is all about – equipping & developing leaders for Children’s & Family Ministry.
We often quote John Maxwell’s famous mantra:
Everything rises and falls on leadership.
And we believe it.
Leadership is talked about on numerous pastor/ministry blogs & websites. Magazines we read are full of leadership lessons. And new “must-read” leadership book seems to be published every week.
These are all great – and even necessary – resources that we all should be drawing from.
But sometimes, just maybe, immersing ourselves in all the great principles of leadership might leave us feeling the opposite of what’s intended. You see, it’s pretty easy to write about leadership. It’s not that hard to throw out lessons we’ve learned based on our experiences for others to read about.
It’s quite another thing to actually lead in the trenches.
Leadership is messy. It’s hard. It can be painful and very discouraging.
And, in spite of the step by step approaches we read all about, I’ve never met a perfect leader.
We all lead very IM-perfectly. And that can be frustrating, discouraging and disheartening.
It can leave us feeling very alone.
But I want to encourage you that you are not alone. You know the “great” leaders who speak at all the conferences? The ones who are writing the articles and the books?
They are imperfect leaders, just like you. Perhaps they are further down the road. And certainly we can (and should) learn from their experiences. But we all wrestle with hard decisions. We all make mistakes. We all are IM-perfect.
So keep reading the articles and applying the things you learn from the books – they are important! But as you lead imperfectly, try and remember these 3 keys:
1. It’s OK to be an IM-perfect leader. This is primarily because it’s impossible to be a perfect leader! You are going to make mistakes. You are going to look back at times and say “What was I thinking?!?”
2. Learn from your mistakes. The worst mistakes you ever make are the ones you don’t learn from. Do what you can to correct them. Change course or back track if necessary. But most of all, learn the lessons of IM-perfection.
3. Keep getting better. It’s ok to be an IM-perfect leader. It’s not ok to not be getting better as a leader. Read that last sentence again. Now, here’s 3 ideas on how to keep getting better as an IM-perfect leader:
- Focus on growing in the areas that matter. I would say this starts with your relationships – with God, your family and with others. Yes, the quality of your relationships really does affect the quality of your leadership.
- Create & follow a personal leadership development plan. Being intentional about growing as a leader is critical. It’s where all the articles, books and conferences come in. It’s where having a mentor becomes important. It’s where recording the lessons you learn comes in. If we were to sit down for coffee, could you tell me specifically what your plan is for personal leadership growth? Each of us should be able to do that very easily.
- Maintain your leadership priorities. Too often we, as leaders, get caught up in the “small things”. It’s easy to get distracted by these because they allow us to check things off our list, make us feel productive & keep us from dealing with the hard, messy things of real leadership. And that’s the problem. When we are not focused on the hard, messy things of leadership, we tend to make mistakes. Sometimes we have to deal with the little stuff, but as much as possible stay focused on what your real leadership priorities are.
Are you an IM-perfect leader? If so, welcome to the club! If we follow some of these ideas and continue to learn and grow, then it’s more than OK to be an IM-perfect leader.