The most difficult person you and I will ever have to lead is ourselves. Sure, there may be others who frustrate us and drive us crazy, but you and I are the real problem. I believe the apostle Paul summed it up best when he said, the things I should be doing I don’t do, and the things I shouldn’t I find myself doing. That is often all too true in my own life. But, if you’re going to be a leader worth following, it starts with leading yourself first. Here’s some of the best ways you can do that.
- Learn how to manage your time. Aside from being a person of great character, I’m not sure anything adds more value to your leadership than time management. Everyone has the same amount of hours in a day, but those who learn to manage their time well get a lot more done than those who don’t. If you struggle in this area, I highly recommend you pick up Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Productive People.
- Learn how to build relationships. Early in ministry this was an area that I wasn’t very good at. I often valued accomplishing tasks over building relationships. I quickly learned this was a big mistake. If I was ever going to be a good leader, I needed to slow down and get to know people. John Maxwell says it this way, “Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand.”
- Learn to set goals. Did you know that people who write down their goals are much more likely to accomplish them? Setting SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable and be more productive. When you don’t set goals, you never know if you’re winning or losing.
- Learn how to handle conflict. Every leader deals with conflict at some point, and that’s especially true for ministry leaders. Leaders have to make tough decisions that can often be unpopular or seen as unfair. If you have a hard time with conflict, you’re going to be stressed out in ministry. Marshall Shelley wrote a great book on this topic, Ministering to Problem People in Your Church: What to Do with Well-Intentioned Dragons.
- Learn to be teachable. There’s nothing more frustrating than someone with a ton of potential who thinks they have nothing else to learn. Leaders are constant learners. There’s always someone who knows more than you, so use the opportunity to learn from them.
- Learn to submit to authority. Even when you think you’re in charge, chances are there’s someone you have to answer to. You’re almost always going to have a boss. So, you have a choice to either reject that authority or embrace it. If you can’t learn to embrace it, you’re going to have a really hard time leading, especially in a church.
What have I left out? What would you add to this list? Leave a comment and let us know. While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get more tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.