I was recently asked by a Bible and leadership school to present a teaching on church discipline and correction (of leaders and pastors). And as you could imagine in my preparation, it took me on journey through my personal feelings about the corrective situations I had been in either as the corrected or the corrector! The longer I'm in ministry and leadership, the reality seems to unfold that the fact is that as humans we really don't like being wrong or told what to do! I guess perhaps yet another attribute evidenced in the garden of Eden?
Throughout my years, seeing people come and go in church life and leadership, I'm convinced that if I conducted a poll for why young leaders left churches and sometimes the Christian faith, I believe firmly placed somewhere in the top 3 would be the pain caused by mishandling, misunderstanding and miscommunication of correction! Having to enter into confrontation is always delicate territory, but in order for things to progress healthily in church and ministry settings it is necessary to confront and correct things that are harmful to the church and the individual. But at all times we owe it to the kingdom to be skilful in the clarity and manner of which we deliver such useful development.
The Bible is full of wisdom about the subject of leadership growth and general keys to fruitful living. I find time and time again it references the issue of disciple and correction and how it is a matter of love and purpose as opposed to power and pride. In all cases, the primary lens that we should view this area with is that of loving redemption towards purpose. As I say this, I am very aware that every context is different, and so are people. Occurrences where correction and discipline are required are more often than not ones where significant pain has already been caused. It's such a difficult thing as a leader so often buoyed by passion for the cause, their team and their people to navigate a complex range of emotions when the proverbial waste matter hits the airflow management appliance (the fan). Luckily, the word of God never changes and is such a steadying influence in such times of anger, hurt and frustration. One of guiding scriptures I love on this matter is this:
Proverbs 29:18-19 [Amplified]
"Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish; but he who keeps the law [of God, which includes that of man]—blessed (happy, fortunate, and enviable) is he."
I also like how many other translations say "cast off restraint" instead of "people perish".
God has a plan, a vision for all of mankind AND also specifically for us as individuals. He very much wants us to fulfil these purposes regardless of our ignorance, arrogance, laziness, selfishness...you name it! But it's through the understanding of his vision and of his redemptive grace that equips us and shapes the lanes of destiny that we run in.
As an emerging leader, I had my fair share of receiving correction (of which most was completely deserved) but there was those few times where maybe a leader might have acted out of their own insecurities and frustrations resulting on it being taken out on me. Luckily, by the grace of God, I have been able to grasp the purpose and redemption (for both myself and theirs). God will ALWAYS use every situation to be the making of us. However, I have made a commitment to myself and whoever I will lead in the future that to best ability, the DESTINY OUTCOME is always the focus and not just casting the spotlight on behaviour modification alone.
In the verses (Proverbs 29:18-19), It is the vision (picture) created by God that is flowing though his chosen leaders which serves as the catalyst for people to be activated in their purpose. Anyone who has wanted to make a difference in the world is typically driven by a PICTURE of a better future. As leaders, our mandate is to lead people to places that could have never gone themselves and as fallen beings living in an imperfect world it is uncontrollably inevitable that mistakes and misappropriations will happen. But in order to make the journey worthwhile and to win with people, we always need to start with the end in mind! How narrow minded of us to attempt such a feat without remembering that all of this is only possible because of the cornerstone of God's redemptive nature!
When I started as a full time youth pastor, a wise leader once gave me a piece of leadership advice I'll never forget and rarely has it failed me in nurturing my own teams. That advice was to "CONNECT BEFORE YOU DIRECT". The level of connection you have with someone really determines and informs you about the best way to instil direction in someone's life. In the process of bringing correction and discipline to a person on my team i've endeavoured to make these 4 considerations:
1: CONNECT WITH THEM AS A PERSON.
Everyone on your team is valuable and worth your time. Validating someone's worth as a human being is vitally important for them to have a sense of value to you AND the team you are running. You will never win with people if they don't believe that you are committed to them and their wellbeing. Also, this helps you get a better gauge for maybe some dynamics that are occurring in someone's life before you address any situational specifics. For example, maybe recently they were diagnosed with depression and are struggling to communicate this to people around them? Or maybe the expectations of the role they are playing on your team hasn't been adequately communicated to them?
2: CONNECT THEM WITH PURPOSE.
Once you are in a place (this can take time) where you feel like there is a mutual connection. This is where you can speak into them the vision of team but also the scope of the individual's potential. If you are to spending time building something for the kingdom together, you can never address the purpose too much. Most of us wouldn't be in leadership today if someone hadn't created a space for us to step up and grow into, and importantly someone had to see what we often can't...our gifts, potential and calling! If you are asking someone to make changes in their life and attitude their minds will always be weighing up the ratio of cost versus value..."is this going to be worth it" and even more so if their corrective grow involves consequences.
3: CONNECT THEM WITH THE SOLUTION.
It's not mere talk that will enable and help people progress in their development journeys. We need to be prepared to give them some practical assistance in walking though challenges and development. Not only do you need to be specific about what EXACTLY you want them to change (in simple, accessible terms) but what options do they have in order to help them achieve success. IN ALL CASES, feedback is essential! Will they know if they are succeeding? When have they hit the goal? But also, does this require more time together? Walking through the mindsets and decision making required to lead at a better level is key and sometimes there is someone else with a particular journey, gifting or skill set in the right area to help them (especially if the situation is complex or specialised ie: addiction).
4: CONNECT THEM WITH REDEMPTION.
The point of "correction" is to make adjustments along the way to a desired destination. The aim of the game is not to force people into retirement or to switch codes, but to have the right team in the match pushing towards their goals. There is a reason why you chose them in the first place! The devil will always do his best to pile on guilt and condemnation when an error or injustice has happened. We as leaders have to be so wary of his schemes. God never wants us to live under condemnation but rather live a life of conviction. Salvation is only ever possible through a revelation of God's redemptive grace and he is the same yesterday, today and forever. Wherever and whenever possible we need to always keep in mind that although people make mistakes (as you and I do too) we all are, everyday in desperate need of God's redemption. Do all that you can to shake condemnation off your people when they fall or take a detour from purpose and commit yourself to more like Christ, lifting the heads of the broken hearted and fixing our eyes on the prize for which he paid the ultimate price for! Give them the chance to succeed again, re-instil confidence in their abilities, give them your trust again as their leader and most of all the opportunity to gain a greater revelation of God's purpose for their life.
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If you'd like to secure your place at either of the Lift Leaders Summits, head to www.liftleaders.com/summit2018
Some praise and prayer points I'd like to share with you:
- We are coming up towards the end of a successful first year of ministry, God has been good!
- Hearing great testimonies of leaders being encouraged and empowered.
- Many exciting open doors for more ministry impact throughout Europe.
- More lives transformed and believers activated as we travel and minister over the next month.
- For wisdom as we develop resources for Lift Leaders and plan 2018.
- Preparation for the Lift Leaders Summit in 2018
- Health, protection and provision for my family.
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