I apologise for the blogging irregularity. These days, I’ve written many drafts but struggled to finish them. August looks demanding – I preach three out of four weeks and facilitate two iJourney sessions. My DYLM cell also coincides with my preaching weekends which leads to a double preparation of teaching materials. It’s also the vision-casting, planning and budgeting month. R-AGE @ GII is also growing with some steady momentum… Basically, everything is coming together all at once – I had better spend more time seeking God.
I do delight in developing my gifts though. I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and my hands clasped in prayer) on a potential ministry opportunity; if that takes off, 2011 looks set to be the most defining year of my (ministry) life thus far. I await with bated breath. Oh God, baptise me in wisdom!
You know, it’s easy to lead when everything’s smooth-sailing. I remember being inspired by DZ’s testimony when I (visited Sydney for the first time and) attended Hillsong Conference 2007. She shared about how she continued leading worship despite her miscarriage; it must have been a tough time for her and the church to experience the loss of a life – that’s transparent leadership for you.
Needless to say, I believe that all regular leaders and mentors (around me) had to lead through tough times too. I often wondered how much inspiration and perspiration they needed to draw from and produce respectively to pull through a rough patch. Here are the ten things I’d recommend for a leader to do when he doesn’t feel like leading, or adequate enough to be a leader, or simply when the chips are down.
1. Share only what’s necessary. You don’t need to give the details of your drought(s) and disaster(s) if you don’t have to. Employ discernment and choose with care whom you share life with. My recommendation – your family, partner, leaders/mentors, cell group, closest friends.
2. Remember that troubles are tempory. Bad times will pass – they usually do not last forever. Often, you end up doubling the pain because you choose to inflict blame on yourself for things beyond your control. Remember, God uses trials and tests to bring out the best in you.
3. Re-create your self-confidence. This is personal because I thrive on confidence. Surround yourself not just with people who love you but also those who desire God’s best for you – they usually have the right words. Let them put the pat on your back that pushes out your chest.
4. Do not dramatise. When you go through a terrible season, you don’t need to convince yourself that it’s worse than what it already is. Healthy pessimism can be helpful, but an overdose could leave you in the trail of destruction. When you are, learn to leave the bad news in the middle.
5. Avoid all loose talk. The last thing you want is to get embroiled in someone else’s misfortunes or to gloat about others to make yourself feel good. Don’t justify your situation and don’t discuss it. Cut off all gossip and secret conversations for they won’t improve your situation anyway.
6. Always remain loyal. As a leader, the biggest mistake you can make is to sell out your team of subordinates, peers and superiors. Teams are accepting of a leader who acknowledges his faults and makes a genuine attempt to atone himself. In your failures, they are still your team.
7. Continue to teach high standards. When the going gets tough, don’t compromise all that you’ve held on to and advocated. Conversely speaking, you should persist and insist high moral standards for those around you. Know that they are observing for your integrity in action.
8. Expect people’s manipulation. Look, it’s a dog-eat-dog world and there will be people who will want to capitalise on your weaknesses to gain an unfair advantage for themselves. Be innocent as doves and shrewd as serpents; don’t allow others to use you like a tool.
9. Be mindful of your speech. Know that everything you say can be quoted; the higher your public profile, the more you will be quoted. In times like these you must exercise restraint. Most leaders have an opinion about everything but it doesn’t mean they need to share every thought.
10. Raise your own bar. In this recovery period, as you consolidate, ask yourself this question – “Would you be fulfilled if you were to keep following someone like you?” Don’t ever shortchange yourself. Your appetite to improve skills and develop character should remain insatiable.
Hope that was helpful for you. For me, I’ll try to pick up my blogging momentum.
It seems that blame-shifting and responsibility-shirking has become ingrained in our systems. Time and again when something goes wrong, we never fail to push the blame to someone else and absolve ourselves of all fault. It happens everywhere – home, school, work, ministry and with friends. We are always reluctant to believe that we can be at fault, or at least, we have too much pride to admit that it might just be our mistake.
For instance, I’ve seen many people join and leave their church. More often than not, when they exit, they will find a pastor to crucify, a preaching style to criticise or a leader to cuss. I managed to do this of course, but in a less violent way. When I decided to leave my former church for Grace, I politely gave reasons like “you need to be 18 before you can serve”, “when the pastor preaches it’s like he’s scolding us” and of course the timeless classic of “it’s a family church that’s too cliquish”.
Surely we are familiar with these “justifications” when we considered leaving our church:
“Oh I prefer a more expository style of preaching.”
“The leaders are too demanding.”
“The youth group has too many rules.”
“I feel that I can’t grow anymore because the teaching is too basic.”
I think I recall BH (who happens to be one of my favourite speakers) saying something like this before, “If there was a perfect church, you wouldn’t be in it“.
Well, what is my point then? I think it’s always easier to change ourselves than to change other people.
- Before you complain about your imperfect church, ask if you’ve been a good member.
- Before you lament about your nagging mother, ask if you’ve been a good child.
- Before you carp about your boring job, ask if you’ve been excellent in all your tasks.
- Before you grumble about your substandard school, ask if you’ve been a good student.
- Before you whine about your unsatisfactory grades, ask if you’ve been studying hard enough.
- Before you grouse about your small allowance, ask if you’ve been a good steward of money.
- Before you mutter about your weird cell, ask if you’ve been putting effort to unify everyone.
- Before you kvetch about your disloyal friends, ask if you’ve been a reliable buddy.
So I urge everyone to do some self-scrunity once in a while. It may do you more good than harm.
“Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)