Daily Archives: November 29, 2007

Baptist General Convention of Texas: Embrace Our Future Together (Part 4a Team Work)

One of the dangers we face in the BGCT today is putting too much hope and confidence in the next CEO of our convention. It is so easy to fall into the trap of believing that the right leader will make all the difference. If one steps back and looks at the size and scope of the BGCT one must be confronted with the reality that this in not a “one man” job. The BGCT done right is a “God-sized” task. So let’s choose to not live in fantasy world and let’s realize that our future rests not with a “hero” who will ride in and save the day, but rather it rests with a “team” of leaders who will help us unleash the tremendous potential and influence of our convention on the state of Texas and to the ends of the earth.

Jim Collins in Good to Great notes that great corporations start with the “who” question not the “what” question. He points out that “Level 5” leaders get the “right people on the bus” and work to get them in the “right seats”. Jesus started His master plan to advance His Kingdom by prayerfully calling to His side twelve men, who appeared to be common and ordinary, but who proved to be the “core” of the greatest spiritual movement the world has even known.

The BGCT staff puts a face to the vision and mission of our convention. We need men and women who passionately love the Lord, love His people, and have the character, leadership skills, gifts, and talents to embrace our future. Those who have the honor of knowing personally our staff have found them to be some of the finest leaders in the Kingdom. If we are going to claim our future we cannot compromise in the quality of those called to lead us.

Leith Anderson in Leadership That Works noted of large churches that ministry no longer depends on one leader but “depends on a team”. This team approach will be critical to our success. If that is true of a large church its truth is multiplied for the BGCT many times over.

Let me suggest some marks of “team leadership”:

1. Influence: Team leaders have the ability to influence the lives and ministries of those who follow them. John Maxwell says “Leadership is influence–nothing more, nothing less”. One of his favorite leadership proverbs states “He who thinks he leads, but has no followers, is only taking a walk” (John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership).

2. Trust: Team leaders lay the foundation of their leadership upon trust. John Maxwell states that leaders earn the trust of their followers by exemplifying the qualities of “competence, connection, and character”. You would think in the area of leadership and ministry this would be a “no brainer.” Trust is the currency of relationships and getting things done. People follow people they trust. We earn trust by knowing what we do, building healthy relationships, and keeping our word and promises.

3. Relationships: Team leaders are masters at building healthy relationships with others and especially with their followers. John Maxwell points out that team leaders never underestimate the “power of building relationships with people before asking them to follow”. Maxwell calls this the “law of connection”–“you first have to touch people’s hearts before you ask them for a hand” (John Maxwell, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership). The life blood of the BGCT and practically any large complex organization is relationships. Jesus was a master at building relationships especially with that tight band of followers He commissioned to change the world.

4. Decisiveness: Team leaders make decisions. Leith Anderson notes that leaders are “active, not passive people. They initiate. They do. They risk” (Anderson, Leadership That Works).

On D-Day one of the critical reasons the Allied forces won the field was the leadership of the officers on the front lines. The Germans could not move without orders from Hitler. At any point they could have pushed us back into the English Channel, but Hitler was sleeping and no one wanted to wake him up with bad news. Meanwhile our officers under heavy enemy fire, and often cut of from communication from headquarters knew their mission and made command decisions to get the job done.

The BGCT is too big for one man or a small group of leaders to make all the day to day decisions. We need a professional team of leaders who know and fully understand our vision and mission who can make good decisions on the front lines. Mistakes are going to be made, but our leaders cannot sit around waiting on a word from on high when lives are at sake. I would rather have a team of leaders who we need to forgive from time to time for being too aggressive or making a bonehead decision than a team of leaders who hide in their offices waiting for someone to tell them what to do.

In terms of making decisions Hall of Fame Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi described his philosophy of leadership this way: “I hold it more important to have the players’ confidence than their affection”. We need leaders willing to make hard command decisions and to help us move forward. Leith Anderson gives a simple plan for making decisions: “(a) define the issue, (b) get the facts, (c) consider the alternatives, (d) make the decision, and (e) do it”. The only thing I would add would be to do it all in an attitude of prayer, and out of a sense of God’s direction, but for spiritual leaders these qualities should be assumed.

5. Spirituality: Team leaders are led by the Spirit. They do not try to over power people, but lead by example as servant leaders. Henri Nouwen pointed out that spiritual leaders see leadership as constantly abandoning power “in favor of love”. As Jesus said, “not lording over them like the Gentiles.”

The kind of leaders we need are not power brokers. Good leaders do not lead by intimidation, but rather out of relationships and character. We need leaders who clearly walk with God which is revealed by how they relate to others. Even though the Baptist Building must function like a corporation at times the spirit in the building needs to remind someone of the “presence of the Lord” rather than the “presence of power”.

Spiritual leaders also have an unusual sense of timing. Like Henry Blackaby noted in Experiencing God that leaders need to learn to let the Holy Spirit be the “convincer”. If our work is truly Kingdom work then we should be able see God’s finger prints all over our actions. It is important that we are not trying to get God to advance “our kingdom” and programs, but rather that we join Him in His work. That was how Jesus filled His day He did what He saw His Father doing. I recently saw a cartoon by Joe McKeever that pictured a man in a committee meeting standing up and exclaiming “Say, Guys, I just had a revolutionary idea that could change the way we do business–why don’t we ask God what He wants and do that?!!”

6. Performance: Team leaders produce. Leaders understand there is a mission to accomplish and it takes hard work. When I begin my ministry years ago my father gave me this sage advice, he said, “David, pray hard, love the people, work hard and trust the results to God.” My dad reminded me that effectiveness in the Kingdom is not all that complicated.

I realize in Kingdom work we cannot produce the results…but we clear the ground, sow the seeds, water and weed, and trust the Lord of the harvest for the miracle. Like farming the harvest is not immediate, but there will be no harvest without the hard work of the farmer. In this day of cutbacks and increasing demand our leadership team at the BGCT must be men and women who work hard and effectively. They must be able to tell the difference between the “good” and the “best” in terms of their daily work.

I trust no one will take these comments as being negative toward our current staff at the BGCT. We have a good team. I am simply pointing out that we will not be able to get the job done without teamwork. This is not a “one man” show. The mission of the BGCT demands cooperation and teamwork at the highest levels. I believe the effectiveness of our staff can rival any corporation in America, because we have the greatest mission on earth–the Great Commission.

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