Leadership Is … Strategy Or Character #318

As a Christian leader, you have a choice.

You may be a Pastor facing a leadership decision for your future or for your church. You may be a business leader facing a growth decline or staffing decision.  You may be a college student questioning course and career decisions. Or, let me illustrate a phrase from one of my mentors. You may be in the third, third of your life.

If you had to make a choice today between strategy and character, which would you choose?

Your strategy is a plan to accomplish your vision, mission or goals all based on defined values. You’ll want to utilize your resources effectively, building teams, all working together creating your future.

Your character starts in your moral values that distinguish you or your team, making you unique from others. Your ethical traits of honesty, personal and corporate values, with care and consistency all lead to a positive uplifting life of integrity.

“Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don’t be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.” (1 Timothy 4:15-16 MSG)

“…when it comes to the people who are responsible for making … organizations healthy, it’s all about character.  Yes, character” (Irwin & Lencioni).

“Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy” (Norman Schwarzkopf). 

We each have a choice. In fact as Christian leaders in ministry, business or college, we make the choice daily to live a life of strategy or character.

Leadership is … choosing character daily.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … Packing A Shoe Box #317

I believe in kids. I believe in service. I believe in working with a team. I also believe that we can and will make a difference as we work together with other cross-cultural teams world-wide.

In this spot, two years ago, we illustrated a fascinating small church (Raymond Fellowship Baptist) with an average attendance of 55 that collected and packed 1,092 shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. At that time, they were increasing their community presence and their annual shoe box donations by 300%.

Last year, 20,000 Canadians each volunteered a few hours. We prayed, worked, shared, packed and delivered shoe boxes. None of us can do it alone. Yet, together we can change our world for kids.

Here are some stats from Operation Christmas Child:

  • 11 million shoebox gifts are collected and distributed worldwide.
  • 167 million shoebox gifts have been delivered to children in over 160 countries since 1993.
  • 260,000 volunteers serve overseas.
  • Every 24 hours, more than 30,000 children hear the Gospel at shoebox outreach events.
  • For every 100 shoeboxes distributed, 16 children report decisions for Christ through the Greatest Journey.

These shoebox gifts are designed to bring a degree of hope to poverty stricken children around the world. Children living in war torn countries receive hygiene items, school supplies and toys. 

Here’s my annual challenge to the 17,000 of you in 75 countries who are connected to our weekly blog. Find an Operation Christmas Child location close to you, pack a shoe box, volunteer and be part of the solution. We can change our world. It may be with a shoe box.  It may be through volunteering. The key point is to pray and be involved.

Leadership is … packing a shoe box and praying for kids. 

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … Teachable #316

Rusty Foerger is one of my mentors, I value his guest blog today.

There is a proverb in the ancient book of Ecclesiastes that goes:

“Better a poor but wise youth than an old but foolish king who no longer knows how to heed warning.”

Here is a clear contrast between one who is poor to the one who is a king.  Or I might put it: the contrast is between a person with limited influence to a person with a lot of leadership authority. It is better, goes the proverb, to be poor but wise. This is distinguished from someone who has more authority, but who is foolish by virtue of no long knowing how to heed warning. 

This difference reveals what it means to be a wise leader – that is to say – the core of what it means to be wise means to be teachable: the ability to heed warning, to take correction, or to value the wisdom of others.

This difference exposes your need as a leader to be humble enough to know you don’t know it all.  It speaks to the awareness that you need people wise enough around you to question, warn, or otherwise offer different perspectives on your leadership.

Think about the times you’ve offered your insights to a person in a senior position, or to your pastor, or the times you sensed your input would not be welcomed. What did that do to your motivation, and how did that result in any decision?

Now think about the times someone tried to suggest a different point of view to you.  What was your reaction? How did you take it, or what did you think of the person who offered it? Believe it or not, you’re in a good position if you have people who can question your thinking while at the same time being committed to the same goals of your organization as you.  

You’re in a better position if you know how to listen to others and be teachable. This is what Leadership Is: being wise enough to be teachable.

Today’s guest blogger, R.H. (Rusty) Foerger is a retired senior officer of the Edmonton Fire Rescue Services. He continues to mentor, teach, and be engaged in the lives of men in his church. Check out his blogs at moreenigma.com and rhfoerger.wordpress.com

Leadership is … being wise enough to be teachable.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Praying For Your Pastor #315

Today we conclude our annual Pastor Appreciation focus.

Each of our churches has the potential to change our world for Christ. We can all agree on the Biblical intent here.  However, the health of your church is dependent on a unique and highly complex component. We call it the brains of the organization. Depending on this unique leadership engineering, your church will grow, drift into neutral or shrink. This marvelous component of leadership is so critical that its health mirrors that of your church. Without this unique component, your church thrives or dies.

 “Your job as a leader is to use your love of your own work to light the passion in others who share this love.” (Crossland & Clarke. The Leaders Voice)

Your Ministry team is the highly technical and complex component that keeps your church healthy.

Paul encourages us to, “Honor those leaders who work so hard for you, who have been given the responsibility of urging and guiding you along in your obedience. Overwhelm them with appreciation and love!” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 MSG)

Here are two awesome but simple ideas to close with.

During Sunday morning service, smile, listen, be involved and really enjoy the service.

Ask your Ministry staff how you can pray for them.

Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know that you care for them.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach

ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Pastor Support #314

A three legged stool is strong, but less than helpful when missing a leg. In supporting our Pastors, I look for people who, like the three legged stool, consistently share three qualities. They are consistent in their prayer support, excited about volunteering within their giftedness and they go out of their way to encourage others.

“Being a Pastor is a tough, demanding job, one that is not always very well understood or appreciated. Pastoral work is more complex than that which transpires in the hour or two a week that many lay people see the pastor in action…” (Burns, Chapman and Guthrie, Resilient Ministry)

Returning to my church office one day I spotted $18,000 worth of Pastoral encouragement on the sidewalk. Blue suede color with chrome highlights, crossover dual exhaust, slash mufflers, two cylinder 3500 rpm achieving a clean 45 mpg. Our visiting Pastor told us with great enthusiasm how his church gave his Youth Pastor and himself matching Harley Davidson touring motorcycles on Pastor Appreciation Sunday. This church invested $36,000 in Ministry encouragement. Now, the point is not the money and not the motorcycles. The beautiful point is every time these two Pastors ride to work, take a weekend tour or re-tell the story, they are reminded how much they love and are loved by their people. 

I haven’t bought any of our Pastors a Hawg lately, but it is a dramatic illustration of what people working together can do to collectively show their Ministry staff their love and appreciation.

I have the privilege of meeting and praying with our Pastor every other Wednesday. We pray, share, laugh and sometimes and cry as we seek God’s plan for our church and community.

Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know that you care for them.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Loving Being A Pastor’s Wife #313

Guest blog from Bradyn Schellenberg.

“What’s it like being a pastor’s wife?”

On my best days, when I feel God’s love strongly and appreciate the blessings he’s given, I am so grateful for the privilege it is to be a pastor’s wife. However, life is not full of “best days”. In short, I’d say that being in ministry is difficult, demanding and draining BUT tremendously rewarding.

The long answer entails so much more. Being a pastor’s wife isn’t like anything I’ve ever experienced before. Like my entrance into motherhood, it started in a way that I could have never fully prepared myself for. As a mom-to-be, I read books, blogs and heard from other moms about the sleepless nights, the temper tantrums, the overwhelming love you feel when you meet your baby for the first time, but no amount of preparation, no amount of baby proofing the house or bulk diaper buying beforehand, could have prepared me for what was to come.  In the same way, I wasn’t prepared in advance to be a pastor’s wife. Jesse and I were a couple years into marriage. He was working in the business world and was very successful in climbing the corporate ladder. I was working full time as a teacher – loving the community I found among my teacher friends. This lasted for a time and then Jesse said to me one day that he wanted to start taking some seminary classes. The next thing we know, we’re invited to a church in another community where Jesse takes on his first job as a real life pastor. It all happened so fast and much of our experience was kind of unexpected, but God orchestrated it all and his timing is so perfect. Just like my entrance into motherhood, my step into life as a pastor’s wife is all about the learning along the way.

The work that my husband and I are in is more than an occupation, it’s a lifestyle. Some might read this and think, “Wait, isn’t it just your husband who works for the church?” To that question, I would answer, yes, Jesse works for the church, however we share a unique calling together. My husband, Jesse doesn’t exactly punch his time card at the end of the day and head for home, turning all areas of work out of his mind. No, in ministry you’re always on. Phone calls can come in all hours of the day. People still need help, direction, prayer, a listening ear. Jesse will jump back into his car after coming home and will head over to the hospital to be with people who are sick or dying. We open up our home regularly to people from all walks of life, some strong in the faith and others weary and with questions. Among all these circumstances, I have the joy of seeing my husband flourish in a calling he’s realized and followed.  The part I play in this calling is this: I have the responsibility and concern of helping hold up his weary arms when ministry is hard, to encourage him and be excited with him when ministry is bright, to listen, to love, to take care of our family, and to be his constant companion and helper in this ‘together calling’. 

The thing is, despite the busy and exhausting lifestyle we live, I thank God for the call that he has placed on our lives, and for the constant learning along the way. I’m proud of how hard Jesse works to serve the people God has entrusted to him to lead and shepherd. I love being a pastor’s wife and I am privileged to be a part of the ministry of the church.

Leadership is … the joy of sharing a calling

Yours in Service,

Bradyn Schellenberg
Guest Blogger
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Delivered Personally #312

I just hand delivered a letter to our Pastor. You may want to consider what you can and should give or share with your Pastor during this Ministry Appreciation month. Think about a letter, a gift card, a free evening of Child sitting, a car wash, a book, or something your Ministry leaders would appreciate.

“Interacting with many Pastors… has convinced me that the river they are crossing is often treacherous and the means are rather primitive.” (Glenn C. Taylor, Pastors in Transition) My personal experience counselling and working with Pastors confirmed their lives can be awesome or treacherous or at any point in between.

“The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17 NIV)

Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.” (Hebrews 13: 7-9 MSG)

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 NIV)

Pastor, we are thankful for you and your family. We pray for you daily.

Leadership is … ensuring your Ministry staff know they are loved and cared for.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is… Pastor Appreciation #311

Jethro Group recognizes October as Pastor Appreciation Month

I love working with Pastors. Every Pastor I know needs prayer, encouragement and team support. My daily prayer is that our Pastors, Churches and leaders are healthy, growing in their relationship with our Heavenly Father and working to demonstrate God’s love to our world.

We need to care for our Ministry staff on a continual basis. We’ve hired them and we trust them to lead and care for us.

Char and I have had the very unique privilege of leading Home Bible Studies for many years. Each week we would read scripture, follow a devotional book, pray for each other and work to be active supporters of our church and community. A couple of times each year, the topic of supporting our Pastor would come up for discussion. Someone would ask how our Pastor and family were doing.  Others would illustrate or comment on how they were blessed, encouraged or challenged by something shared on Sunday. Others would share a recent church meeting, a hospital or shut in visit. We’d talk, pray for our Ministry staff and their families. I would typically end the discussion by pointing out that it is great to share our appreciation and to pray. However, it would be awesome if everyone in our group would make a card, send a letter or email just to encourage our Pastor.

Fascinating, our Pastor would call or email me the next week.  In his words, “it was an amazing coincidence to get 10 cards of appreciation in three days”. We made his day and whole week.

Now, just imagine the impact if every Home Bible study would pick a week to encourage each of their Ministry staff.

Your church demonstrates your love for God and His bride (the church) by how you care for and support your Ministry staff.

I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will lead you with knowledge and understanding.” (Jeremiah 3:15 NIV)

Leadership is … appreciating your Pastor and confirming it with a note.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … A Serious and Prayerful Conversation on Church Health #310

My prayerful dream for today is to challenge our status quo and stimulate serious conversations in homes and churches worldwide.

Over the last year, I’ve asked one specific question to every Christian Business owner and manager that I’ve met. Here is the question.

What year over year percentage increase in sales or customers would constitute a healthy and successful business?

My research is casual, only designed to stimulate a conversation with you and your Leaders.

The average response to my question is that a Business should grow by 6.5% in terms of increased customers, clients or product sales every year to be considered healthy. Here’s the fascinating point. These same men and women, including you and I, are the leaders in our churches. We pray, share, discuss, set direction, encourage and lead our churches. Yet, the average growth rate in our churches is dismal compared to the business community. A quick look at church Annual Report stats suggests that the average growth rate of churches is 1% – 2% a year.

“Nation wide research suggests that poor to fair growth in churches is between 2-5% a year.” (Gary L. McIntosh)

Anyone want their church to be known as poor to fair?

Church health research and Pastors themselves suggest a healthy church should have an annual attendance growth rate of 6% in worship services each year. This positive growth is a result of prayer, scripturally sound teaching and consistency in vision, mission and values. I concur Ministry is different from the business world of enterprise. But, our goal in church is unmeasurably greater. Your church is, or should be, a living organism. Just like the human body, it is designed to grow and heal itself.

So, here is my question that I’d love each of you to prayerfully share and converse with your Pastor or Leadership Board.  Why is it we expect and aim for our businesses to have a 6.5% increase every year yet we, the same leaders, are satisfied with a 1% growth in our churches?

Leadership is … prayerfully seeking healthy churches.

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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Leadership Is … Authority or Freedom #309

How do you lead? Do you and your staff work together to achieve and excel? Is your place of work enjoyable?  Your leadership style has a dramatic influence on whether you achieve your goals and whether your staff and volunteers love to come to work. Your style and that felt by your people likely sits in a balance between the two opposing leadership styles of authority and freedom.

Many leaders want complete control and authority. They choose to make most of the decisions and they direct the organization independently. Staff and volunteers are discouraged or not allowed to make financial, organizational or in extreme cases any decisions at all. Volunteers and committee leaders are committed and expected to be motivated and ready to be involved and work hard. There is little or no freedom for innovation, creativity or input. The bottom line is the boss is always right! This leadership style is centered on the leader.

Now consider the volunteer or staff centered leadership. The leader and staff set the vision and direction. Staff are encouraged to find and implement the best method of achieving the goal. The leader takes a keen interest, while playing a hands off yet supportive role. The employees are responsible to schedule, plan and accomplish the task. They set high work standards, will share, likely work in teams and will innovate and utilize their creativity to the fullest. The key factor in both of these styles is the boss encourages the direction and vision, but the use of that authority and the area of freedom for the employee changes as you move from style to style.

As the leader, you don’t need to adopt either extreme, but you will find the balance based on your God given skill. The drive to excel whether in Ministry or Secular is to move the decision making as close to the front line as possible.

You and your people need to prayerfully work together to find God’s role for you and your team.

Leadership is … seeking God’s direction in your daily leadership style

Yours in Service,

Laurie D. Kennedy
Leadership Coach
ldkjethrogroup@gmail.com

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