The 11 Best Church Leadership Skills
I have the opportunity to speak with hundreds of Pastors each year. Some I develop relationships that last long beyond professional reasoning. It is one of perks of my job. One of the questions I’m most interested in is, why some pastors are successful and others are not?”
The most logical explanations might sounds something like one of the following:
- Excellent Communicator
- Better Location
- Big Donor
- Better Music
- Even Luck
But the real answer may be more predictable than that. James Allen once said, “You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” John Locke would add, “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.”
As I have studied the lives of countless leaders I have come to realize that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how they think.
Several years ago, I read a book called “Thinking For A Change” by John C. Maxwell. That book helped me realize that if a leader changes the way he/she thinks, they increase their odds for success. In the book Dr. Maxwell identifies 11 leadership skills that successful thinkers practice. Below I’ve adapted those principle to reflect critical Church Leadership Skills.
The 11 Best Church Leadership Skills
Church Leadership Skill#1
Think Big-Picture – Few things show the maturity of a church leader more than developing the leadership skills of thinking “big-picture.” Jack Welch, arguably the greatest business leader in history, used to teach GE employees to always value the relationship with the customer over an individual sale. Donald Trump would add, “You have to think anyway, so why not think big?” The Donald is right. You are going to think today. Why not think big?
Church Leadership Skill #2
The Ability To Focus – If a leader is not careful, they can be overwhelmed with clutter. Clutter is defined as a disorganized mess. It’s called a condition of disorderliness or overcrowding. Successful church leaders have the ability to remove all the clutter and focus their thinking on the task at hand.
Church Leadership Skill #3
Creative Thinking – Antony Jay once said, “The uncreative mind can spot answers, but it takes a creative mind to spot wrong questions.” Creative leaders know that real wisdom is found in great questions, not great answers. Here are three great questions leaders can ask to unleash their creative energies:
• Why must it be done this way?
• Is there a different perspective on this?
• What is the real issue we are dealing with?
Creativity isn’t a talent, it’s among those critical church leadership skills that must be developed.
Church Leadership Skill #4
Thinking Realistically – The fundamental role of leadership is to properly identify reality. The following are four realities every leader faces:
• There will be conflict. Press into it.
• People will resist change. No one likes change but a baby.
• People must be developed to be effective. They are your only appreciable asset.
• Tough calls must always be made. That is one the prices that leaders must pay.
Church Leadership Skill #5
Strategic Thinking – Great church leaders are people of vision. They have a picture imprinted on their mind of a preferred destination that is better than their current reality. It is a place they must go and take others with them. Strategic thinking with a solid plan is the bridge that links where you are with where you want to be.
Church Leadership Skill #6
Possibility Thinking – Great leaders are optimists. They point to a brighter tomorrow. The best church leaders dream and dream BIG. The questions each leader must then ask are “Do they own their dream” and “Are they willing to personally invest in seeing that dream become reality?”
Church Leadership Skill #7
Reflective Thinking – In “The 21 Irrefutable Laws Of Leadership”, Dr. Maxwell wrote that The Law Of Intuition teaches that leaders evaluate everything through a leadership bias. Do you reflect on your leadership daily? Do you set aside time to review your team’s performance? If not, here are five questions every leader can ask to begin thinking reflectively:
• What did I hear today?
• What did I see today?
• What did I feel today?
• What should I then share?
• What action should I then take?
Church Leadership Skill #8
Innovative Thinking – Nick Saban, head coach of the two-time defending BCS champion Alabama Crimson Tide, says, “There is no continuum to success.” He adds, “History can’t help us win the next game.” Great leaders must continually develop their leadership skills to grow. They must continually be looking outside-the-box for new and creative solutions. “Been there. Done that.” is not a leadership strategy. Going somewhere new. Doing something different. Looking at a problem a different way. That is how successful leaders think.
Church Leadership Skill #9
Participating In Shared Thinking – Great church leaders are incessant team builders. They can’t think of going on a successful journey without the company of others. And one of the many wonderful things a great team gives you are ideas that help you get to your destination faster and more efficiently. Shared thinking makes vision a reality.
Church Leadership Skill #10
10. Unselfish Thinking – Great leaders are others-focused. They know that there is no life as empty as the self-centered life. On the contrary, there is no life as centered as the self-empty life.
Church Leadership Skill #11
Bottom-Line Thinking – Dale Earnhardt once said, “2nd place is the first in a long line of losers.” The man known as “The Intimidator” never confused activity with accomplishment and neither should you. Results matter. There are two types of leaders. Those that bring home the bacon and those that belch out the bologna. Which one describes you?
Every pastor or church leader reading this post can be successful. It all starts with how you think. Then you just need a plan.