Leadership Longevity: Four Essential Practices – Lead (Part 4 of 5)

It might seem ridiculous to say, but one of the main reasons many leaders do not last in an organization, is they won’t lead; thus the organization declines or barely remains existent. If it has a mission, few people in the organization are aware of it and fewer still work towards it. A farmer MUST farm, or there is no food. A teacher MUST teach, or there is no education. A leader MUST lead, or there is no organizational success! Many years ago I heard General Norman Schwarzkopf say, “When placed in leadership, LEAD!” I faced this truth the hard way!

I was called to be the Lead Pastor of a fairly large church at the ripe old age of 24. I was not prepared for the task ahead of me. The church had over 2000 members, but had faced some obvious conflict, and consequently only 600 people attended. The church also had a large and reputable private school, but it was beginning to sink the church financially.

As the Lead Pastor of the church, I filled the office of President of the school. I was now responsible for a total employed staff of over 70 people and several hundred children. Within the first year I had to find a solution to a recurring monthly spending deficit of several thousand dollars, which included: assembling a team, hiring a consultant, meeting with parents, restructuring class sizes, reorganizing the lunch program, releasing several employees, and realigning others. It was a public relations nightmare for the church and school. It was the right decision and paid big dividends for the organization, but it came with a high price demanded from my emotional bank. The pain and scars from criticism and personal attacks from that journey is still with me today, but it had to be done.

During that transition I received little credit and much blame, but it taught me a valuable principle of leading the organization as a servant. Leadership exists because problems exist. If there are no problems, leadership is not needed. Anyone can park in a designated parking spot, wear a fancy title, or sit behind a desk for the privileged few. The problems that leaders complain about are the ONLY reasons leaders are needed! They are the servants who take the pain of problems so the people can succeed and the mission can be accomplished.

I had dreamed of being a pastor, but I had NEVER dreamed of leading a school, working with angry parents, or releasing good people from their jobs for no fault of their own! However, the fact remained that I was the leader and these things came with the territory. I had accepted the role. It was my responsibility to help find a solution and make the necessary decisions to help the organization accomplish its mission with excellence.

It is malpractice for a leader not to act and re-act to the various obstacles faced by the mission of their organization. Too often, leaders feel a sense of entitlement rather than servant hood. They cherish the “Top” spot, and refuse to take responsibility to actually lead and solve problems. They love their title, designated parking spot, and corner office; but they don’t see themselves as servants to the people and organization they were called to. Such leaders should be fired, or better yet, if they have any sense of integrity, they should resign.

It’s difficult and painful to lead, but a leader MUST! They MUST lead with integrity, courage, and humility. They MUST remove obstacles to the mission and help the people in the organization succeed. If there is any blame, the leader should be willing to take it, but NEVER give it! If there is any credit, the leader should deflect it, NEVER demand it! Such leaders are cherished commodities in every nation, organization, and church! “When placed in leadership, LEAD!”

5 thoughts on “Leadership Longevity: Four Essential Practices – Lead (Part 4 of 5)”

  1. Wow. Speechless. Very well said. I need to print this out and place it on my bathroom mirror. Thanks for being so candid and honest. I really appreciate your transparency!

    1. Thanks Tajakica,

      I provided the hard work, and God provided the seeds, rain, and sunshine! Leave out any one of these and it won’t happen! LOL!

  2. In 1979 I was serving as a youth pastor. One Monday after a particularly frustrating weekend I was talking with the pastor about the problems the youth department was facing. He looked at me and simply said, “If we didn’t have these problems, we wouldn’t need you.”

    I’ve never forgotten that. Thanks for the reminder.

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