by Amanda Brady
Children’s Pastor, Amanda Brady is a guest writer for INCM.
Gary Lindsay has been in ministry to children for over 15 years. During that time, he has had the opportunity to work with many different groups in a variety of settings. During my conversation with him he talked about how dictatorial leadership style is a thing of the past. Individuals don’t want to be told what to do rather they want to know the why behind it. Effective leadership today requires collaboration, communication and celebration. He shared more specifics about this with me during our interview at CPC13 in Orlando.
Collaboration will help expand your ministry. When people are heard, they want to be involved, they feel valued, and they take ownership. Collaboration requires a team effort, so the first thing you must do is choose your team. It is important to know the specific gifts, talents and skills you need represented when choosing your team. You can determine these by using assessments such as Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath or spiritual gifts inventories that you can find online. Don’t just choose people who are like you. By doing this, others will ask questions or catch things you might miss. Make sure that the team realizes that the contributions of each player are valued. It is also important to determine who will make the final decision. Show people you value them by letting them lead. You should not always be the final decision maker.
An important tool in collaboration is brainstorming. Gary points out that when a group brainstorms they will usually come up with 10 or 15 ideas and think that is enough. However, it often takes 50-60 ideas before you get a good one. Defer making judgment during the brainstorming process. Do not criticize or evaluate any of the ideas at this point, instead focus on quantity. Also, don’t be afraid to mention wild ideas. It is okay if they are outrageous! The team should also feel free to move off of ideas given. After brainstorming ideas, you need to evaluate to determine which is the best idea. Focus on what you want to accomplish instead of getting caught up in why certain ideas won’t work.
Being a great communicator is essential if you want to be an effective leader. Determine how best to convey or express your thought and feelings. This includes determining the best mode of communication – whether via face to face contact, email, etc. Customize your communication to your audience and adjust it so they can best understand. Make sure your message is clear and that you deliver it in a way they can understand. Active listening is an important component of communicating. Clear away any distractions, including cell phones and other things that turn your attention away from the speaker. Make eye contact with the person speaking. Acknowledge that you heard by repeating what the person said. Don’t respond emotionally or jump to conclusions.
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate! Celebrations shouldn’t be reserved only for the big successes. Instead, make sure you acknowledge and celebrate the little wins along the way. It can be something as simple as taking a picture or video to share of individuals caught in the act of doing something great. The demeanor of your team changes when there is an attitude of celebration.
Leadership isn’t always easy, especially when you are working as a team. It is important to set boundaries and rules from the very beginning. Make it clear how conflicts will be handled and who will be the final decision maker. There may be times when you have to ask someone to change a role. It takes grace and courage to do the right thing sometimes. When you have to ask people to step down or change roles, avoid making it about them personally. Never point out or degrade areas of their personality. Instead, it is about the strengths that are needed on that particular team. When you find yourself in difficult situations like this, seek out the wisdom and advice of other leaders who have been on this journey before you. Most of them are willing to share and help you along the way.
Gary Lindsay is currently the Children’s Pastor at Irving Bible Church. He presents training for conferences worldwide and is a contributing writer for Children’s Ministry Magazine.