1st October 2015
‘Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.’ Oscar Wilde
Last week, I was fortunate to spend a few days at our ‘learning community’ in which leaders from several churches in the UK, the USA and elsewhere gathered for teaching and to spend time together as teams to reflect and plan for next steps. I particularly enjoyed hearing one of the guest speakers, Michael Fletcher. He leads a church of some 5000 people in North Carolina, USA, and I was eager to hear his insights on leadership. What would his advice be for taking your church to the next level? Powerful preaching? An effective outreach programme? Whilst all those are clearly important elements, it was reassuring that his first point was that good leaders know themselves.
The importance of knowing who I am is something I have been aware of for many years now. Of course, on first hearing it can sound a little like navel-gazing. Aren’t we in danger of becoming too self-absorbed, too introspective? Isn’t there a danger that spending too much time thinking about ourselves could prevent us from getting on with the real work of spreading the gospel and building God’s church? Naturally, if all you do is talk about yourself with others, you will soon turn your audience off. But I would argue that having a realistic awareness of who you are, your strengths and weaknesses, will make you a more effective leader in the long term. If spending time understanding yourself is part of an ongoing reflection on how you experience life and how others experience you, then it can lead to significant personal growth.
Recently, another leader came to talk to me about the options for his future. He shared some thoughts and possible paths for ministry and then asked for my comments. I paused for a while, wanting to give good counsel and then answered that at this stage in the process, self-awareness was crucial. To ensure a good fit wherever he ended up, he needed to consider who he is. These are some of the questions I suggested he ask himself: What season of life and ministry am I in? How do I process life? How do other people experience me? What are my primary and secondary gifts? What is my personality type? Having an understanding of all these aspects can ensure that we place ourselves where we are most likely to be effective for God and his church.
Perhaps you also have a sense of call on your life and would like to grow as a leader. Perhaps, like my friend who came to talk to me, you find yourself in a position where you are considering your future. If that is you, then why not think about applying for one of our trainee pastor roles? All details can be found here.
Image: Self Portrait in Vienna by Luca Sartoni, used under CC
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.