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They Probably Told Me…But, I Wasn’t Listening

I took the reins of the First Apostolic Church in 1983 after a thirty year term by the former pastor.  I had been there as his assistant for ten years.  One can only guess at the number of talks we had over those years.  Some of it pooled up in my brain via osmosis, but I suspect that much of his distilled wisdom took the proverbial route between my ears and out into space.  I had other mentors as well, but their sage advice met the same fate.  In order help the next generation, here are some things I remember, along with some things I had to learn on my own, thanks to my preoccupied mind.

Strategic planning is vitally important.  The reason I dread planning so much is that I am either up to my ears in today’s happenings or recuperating from yesterday’s events.  If the trees are just budding, it’s hard to think about autumn.  What do you mean Thanksgiving?  We just got through Easter!  Sorry, but leaders have to think about tomorrow’s challenges even though it seems to ruin today’s fun.  I don’t mean to shock you but you should stretch out a two to five year plan before you and think about revivals, seminars, celebrations, workshops, conferences and even vacations.  Heads of ministries need to submit to you their plans so you can coordinate everything in one master plan.  You will often have to alter these early plans, but that’s much better than cobbling something together at the last minute.  Take another look at the lead sentence of this paragraph.  I’m not kidding.  Ignore it at your own peril.

Pay close attention to details.  If you’re like me, you’re always in a hurry, sometimes too rushed to bother with little details of a matter.  Slow down.  Take the time to plod through the boring little facts now.  You may very well pay dearly for overlooking something you thought was insignificant. The finer points you missed because you were focused on the bigger picture will be exactly what some bureaucrat, inspector, bank official or attorney wants to know.  Better to be forewarned and forearmed than waltz unwittingly into a situation that turns out to be disastrous.

Always know exactly where the church is legally and financially.  You cannot claim to be too busy with the spiritual program to take care of the church’s business.  Corporation papers, mortgage and balloon payments, insurance coverage, tax assessments, fire and safety regulations, vehicle inspections and licensing are just a few things that demand promptness.  Deadlines for filing papers, making payments or signing contracts can slip up on you faster than you can imagine. Penalties, loss of privileges and a damaged reputation may result from being inattentive to duty.  Even if you can delegate these tasks to an assistant, the burden still falls on your shoulders.  Your responsibility runs the gamut from A to Z, and the only thing people will remember will be that you weren’t doing your job. 

Dream big with your feet firmly planted on the ground.  Vision casting belongs to the pastor, and dreaming about the future is probably the most exciting and energizing role you will play.  Unrealistic goals, however, can destroy your dreams.  Get a good idea where you are and understand the path the church has to take to reach stage ten.  If you are at stage three of your master plan, don’t get so engrossed with stage ten that you forget about four through nine.  The bigger the dream, the more important the intermediate stages become.  Your dreams will dissipate without concrete, visible, doable steps to get you there. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”  Luke 14:28-30 (NIV).

Listen to critics without being affected by their spirit.  Learn the difference between responding and reacting.  It is a huge mistake to react to the claims of critics without examining them for elements of truth.  While some may be driven by pessimism, don’t cut them off without hearing them out.  As they say, “just because you are paranoid doesn’t mean that people aren’t out to get you!”  Nothing is worse than your critics turning out to be right. Emotions like anger, annoyance or resentment can skew your perception of reality.  Remember, a critic may be willing to tell you the same news that a friend may not share because he doesn’t want to hurt your feelings.

End of part one.  More to come.

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Reader Comments (1)

Very good blog post! I'll send it around! Follow me on twitter-- Jenny103143.

August 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenny Teets

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