On paper I knew I wanted to start well by being proactive and not reactive. Rookie Pastors don’t operate on paper, we operate in a messy reality full of variables called people. People that are looking to influence (or force) you into a decision or preferred action.
It usually starts out innocent enough. You get invited over for dinner or they stop by your office to chat. Sometimes motives aren’t pure and sometimes it just comes across that way. This reality is why we are so familiar with cynicism.
Being reactionary can even feel right. What do you know? You are the new leader on the scene without much experience. Plus you were brought in to fix things, to change culture anyway, right?
Things get even more complicated and fuzzy when our fragile psyche is involved. I don’t like conflict. I don’t like it when people don’t like me. I don’t like it when people leave. And I am willing to bet that you don’t either.
However when we are reactionary we start chasing our own tail. And we don’t get anywhere.
It is so easy, so natural to simply react you have to set up some guiding principles that will help.
- Don’t just talk to one person. We react to the complainer. The person with the pet project they want defended. In the process the majority who feels otherwise or doesn’t care is now involved. Never take action on the opinions of one person, even if this is your Lead Pastor.
- Talk to outsiders. Part of being proactive is understanding your community and while you can learn a lot from observing those in your church and building relationships you are only seeing one part of the picture. Talk to other pastors and community leaders in the area. These relationships can be your best source of unbiased information and safe places for you to vent.
- Stick to the plan. You have goals. You have vision. If you don’t: pray, develop some and then stick to it. If God gives you a vision defend it with everything you have and share it with others. Never hoard vision.
- Don’t go it alone. Those hard conversations that are pushing you to be reactionary also push you to isolation. You start feeling like you are all alone in it. Share in broad strokes the details with friends and peers. Fill your boss and other staff in and get their feedback, chances are they can speak to the larger context. Copy your superiors on the emails and replies, when possible include them in one on one conversations.
- Don’t waver. After you make the decision you will be tempted to compromise. Stick to the decision and let you “no” be no.
Leadership is not reactive it is proactive. Ministry is the same with the addition of your vision coming from God and the urgency of salvation. This matters. Stick to what you know and stop chasing your tail.
What did I miss? How do you stay proactive and avoid reacting to everything?