When a new leader comes to town, there are normally three different camps of people with whom you are dealing. One – the pioneers (30%) who are the quickest to jump on board, two – the stragglers (60%) who are curious but wait to see what you are really up to, and three – the stumps (10%) who will never really believe in you or take on your DNA of ministry.
Leadership can a lonely position because you cannot cater to any three of those groups, lest you lose the other two. Despite those frustrations, one must move forward with vision, cast it, and keep casting it with abandon. Below are a few ways to keep moving forward with your vision and philosophy without leaving strewn bodies everywhere while accomplishing it.
- Find the top five (5) people with leadership responsibilities (i.e. SS Director, staff member, division director, teacher) and cultivate relationships with them and between them. This act will begin to build not only a professional relationship with them, but also blossom friendships. Trust will begin to be formed in just weeks.
- Next, begin to cast vision and philosophy with the ministry group as a whole. It has been said that people don’t really understand what you are trying to convey until you have said the same thing seven times. I tend to believe it might be more than that. This action would be at a regularly schedule teacher meeting, or a quarterly training. Be consistent in your meeting times, present a strong agenda, purpose, and action items. If the group understands your vison, some of the “stragglers” will begin to fall in love with your leadership style and walk alongside you. Over the next six months begin investing in those that you see coming to grips with your vision.
- Ask your senior pastor to periodically come to your leadership meetings (SS, Small Groups, Discipleship Cohort) and support your vision and philosophy through key points of which you have already presented. This action is not a trick to get them on your side, but rather a foundation of strength though shared philosophy. At this point, more “stragglers” will come to grips with the reality of your ministry mindset.
- The next step with which to be consistent over time is your confidence in the forward progress of your ministry. After a year, re-evaluate where you are, meet back with the original five key leaders, tweak what is working, and scrap or change what is not. This move reinforces your philosophy because one size usually does not fit all.
- After that first year, you have either won the trust in ministry towards the rest of the “stragglers” and “stumps” or not. Now that you have been there for a significant period and time permits, begin meeting personally with those who still show resistance to your leadership style and philosophy. Don’t fight battles that you cannot win because that energy can never be regained. Then if they still won’t budge and come on board with you – be kind, love them as a brother or sister in Christ, then as my mentor said, “just mow around the stump.” You cannot stop just because of the few are never going to change.
Dr. Tim Turner,
Director of Evangelism and Discipleship
West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists