By Bill Lighty, Next Step Guide, CO Baptists
Developing effective and spiritually mature leaders is tough. It seems that about the time you have all your leadership in place and volunteer positions filled, one fourth of them resign or move. Or you discover you have the wrong the people in the wrong places for all the wrong reasons and effectiveness is sabotaged. Here is one tool that might be helpful to keep this from happening.
Church Leadership Covenant
If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry. Having people commit and sign a leadership covenant will go a long way in protecting the unity of the church and discerning who is ready to move into leadership. Here are some things you might put into the Covenant.
1) Vow to maintain integrity
“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him”2 Peter 3:14
Integrity is at the root of leadership. Integrity takes time and commitment to spiritual growth and disciplines. You can coach someone to develop skills and competencies but you cannot coach integrity. Someone once said, “Integrity is who you are when no one is looking.”
2) Vow to forgive those who hurt you.
“Make every effort to live in peace with all men. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up.\”Hebrews 12:14-15
In leadership you will get hurt. Someone will disappoint you, misunderstand you, misinterpret what you are trying to say, and be jealous of you. Practicing forgiveness is vital for you personally, spiritually, and emotionally. You cannot control what people think about you or who will question your motives. Granted, there are times when you need to address these issues but more often than not it is simply a matter of forgiving someone who has offended you.
3) Vow to relax and trust God.
“Anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter into God’s rest.\”Hebrews 4:11
God is large and in charge. He is the one that administers justice, not you and me. In order to practice Sabbath rest we must learn to relax and trust God with all the things we can do nothing about. Granted, most of us pastors are competitive, type A, control freaks. That is partly how God has wired us but it cannot be used as an excuse to be belligerent and unloving to others. We must learn to rest in God’s provision, purpose, and process. Remember we are here to serve Him, His Kingdom, and His Bride, the church.
4) Vow to be an encourager.
“Let us make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”Romans 14:19
Being an encourager is a primary task for every pastor. People often come to us beaten, worn down, and weary. We have the privilege to lift them and be a “balcony person.” Most people have plenty of “basement people,” people who pull them down below ground level and beat them down. Balcony people pull people up, cheer them on, believe in them, and help them see their circumstances from a higher perspective.
5) Vow to be a peacemaker.
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.\”Ephesians 4:3
Peacemaking is a vital skill we must learn and practice as we lead our people well. Your leaders are looking for someone to come alongside them and coach them to become better leaders. Learning the skills of peacemaking will provide enormous dividends as we attempt to create a leadership culture. Oftentimes peacemaking begins with coming to the middle of a disagreement, acknowledging the other person’s perspective, and owning our part in the disagreement. I have often used the phrase, “Help me understand.” Be sure, when someone pushes back and disagrees with you, the discussion does not become a debate but rather a conversation. Acknowledge how someone is feeling and attempt to understand before you try to be understood.
6) Vow to never stop growing.
“Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive…\”2 Peter 1: 5-8
A leader is a lifelong learner. As you lead you must set the example of continual growth in your own life spiritually, physically, emotionally, relationally, and occupationally. People need to hear you talk about your learning processes and the impact they are making on you as a person and leader. Do not be afraid to share your areas of struggle and weakness. This should be expressed routinely and engaging other leaders in sharing what is working for them. None of us have all the answers and we are better together.
It is critical as you develop a Leadership Covenant that you utilize and incorporate your church’s core values. This will assist in maintaining clarity and unity in purpose. A church’s vision and core values are not so much taught as they are caught.