In his second article on 'The Three Cs' of leadership Ray Evans looks at Capability. Here he focuses on vision and organisation as he considers what a capable leader looks like.
Vision without organisational skills will mean a leader will run into problems. Under God, vision has to be turned into reality, otherwise it’s just a disappointing pipe-dream.
That’s where the second of our Three Cs comes in. Capability.
There are places in Scripture we could go: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” and , “Discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Tim 2:15; 4:5) being amongst the foremost.
But I want to focus on two leadership capabilities – vision and organisation.
Much is made of someone who gets labelled as ‘visionary’. But this can feel intimidating to the rest of us. Worse than that, it can feel pretty man-centred too.
I’m much happier if we talk about leaders who get the church excited about the Lord’s vision for his people, his gospel, and his world. It is him and his vision we want people to be gripped by. That means a number we can’t count, from every background, language and place, all amazed by grace and finding themselves in a transformed heavens and earth, with the Lord forever. That’s the proper vision (Revelation 5).
And that vision starts to become a reality as the gospel gets to more people and they become disciples. It is what’s commanded in the Great Commission – to make disciples of all nations. If we obey that, we can hear what’s next, the, ‘Behold!’ or ‘Look! I am with you to the very end of the age’. We need to obey that command too so that we realise who it is that really brings vision to reality, and so that we don’t get disheartened.
That is the vision and mission the King sets before us, and one day, on its completion, he will hand it over to the Father (1 Cor 15:26-28).
Leaders constantly need to cast this gospel vision – how wonderful it is to know such a Saviour and Lord, how unkind to keep such good news to ourselves, and just, ‘how beautiful are the feet of those who bring others good news’ (Rom 10:15).
But, ‘vision leaks’ as the saying goes. The values go cold, the urgency and priority slip down the ‘to do’ list. Churches become self-absorbed, and leaders become overly busy. That means we have to keep returning to this vision.
How do we do this?
Leaders need to use plenty of energy and initiative. Metaphors such as: ‘The church is a lifeboat not a cruise liner.’ Statistics such as: ‘There were more people in the obituary column of this week’s local paper than got baptised in our church in the whole of last year.’ Emotion: ‘I have unceasing anguish in my heart’ (Rom 9:2). Vision: ‘See the fields white for harvest’ (Matt 19:37). Goals: ‘to win as many as possible’ (1 Cor 9).
It will involve leading your church ‘from here to there’.
‘There’ is where we would love to be – seeing regular conversions, lives being fixed, and real hope coming to our community. ‘Here’ is where we are now.
Leaders have to show why we can’t stay ‘here’; ‘here’ is not a place that is good for the gospel. We have to begin that journey ‘from here to there.’ A leader’s vision skills are employed like this to point out how gospel-driven, God-honouring, Christ-exalting and Spirit-empowered change has to happen.
Not many seminaries or formal courses point out to would-be leaders just how easily vision ‘leaks’, nor how to restore it. If you don’t feel as if you’re very good at this get alongside leaders who are better. It is something that is better caught than taught.
This leadership strength on its own, however, can be a weakness. We also need organisational skills.
Some of these skills can be learned. How do we know? Because a great leader like Moses learnt later in life.
Exodus 18 shows us a mess – people are queueing up, getting fed up, and leaving a leader burnt out (Ex 18:14, 18). Organisational wisdom came in an unlikely form – the outsider (and father-in-law) called Jethro. He saw what Moses only felt. He analysed and diagnosed the problem that Moses was barely coping with.
Jethro actually problem-solved while Moses had resigned himself to working harder, to hit a receding target, and getting ever more exhausted in the process.
His solution is so obvious in hindsight. Organise around groups of 1000, 100, 50, and 10 – especially 10 we might add. And Moses listened and learnt.
Then he organised around, in effect, small groups, small ‘churches’, medium ‘churches’ and large ones. Love in practical reality came down to the level of the personal, the accountable, and the manageable. Care started in small groups. Serious difficulties got passed up. Everyone, including and especially Moses, got their lives back. And God was honoured.
The passage is not prescriptive for us; it’s a very different covenant context to say the least. But it is more than descriptive, it is highly suggestive. Not surprisingly the early church met in the temple courts and from house-to-house (Acts 2:46).
Leaders will need to learn how to organise good small-group structures (home groups and task teams – Acts 6:1-7) if the church is to be capable of adding converts and making them into disciples.
These passages are an indication of how good organisational skills can really make a difference. Have you ever tried to learn some, and put them into practice?
Senior leaders, sometimes called ‘leaders of leaders’, will need to especially help those who mobilise volunteers. Time will have to be given for training opportunities, and offering experience (See 1 Tim 3:10). Senior leaders have to make time for this. Without mobilising others, the capacity of even the best leader will limit growth. Good organisational skills can help with this.
Other areas that will require organisational capability often revolve around three practical constraints – we might call them the A, B, C of church life – the challenges of attendance/people/staff, of buildings/space/facilities, and of cash/resources/giving.
I am often amazed when I meet Pastors and Senior Leaders who have no real idea of the annual giving in their church. Yet deciding how money is spent is a vital issue (see the whole of 1 Tim 5).
These two leadership capabilities, vision and organisational skills, even on their own, are all a tall order aren’t they? Most of us learn the hard way through our relative failure.
But don’t be discouraged.
If you know these two areas are important, that is the first step in getting help from others. That in turn will make you a more effective leader of God’s people, in God’s cause.