I often find myself amazed that God would put me in a place of influence while I’m still so broken and flawed. My response is a feeling of urgency - to become a better leader each year that He has me here. Glancing back at 2015, I see moments I could have handled things more wisely, seen the big picture more clearly, and waited a bit longer to give responses; so, here are some tried and true pieces of advice I’ll be striving to follow in 2016.

1. Build Relationships

“Good relationships make influence possible…” - John Maxwell, The 360 Degree Leader, p. 176. Focus on building great relationships first - with your team, your peers in ministry, your supervisor(s), and hopefully everyone that God brings into your life! And you will experience greater favor when you need to make a change, implement a new idea, or have a tough conversation. 

Maxwell mentions that being able to connect one-on-one with people is a MORE important skill than being able to connect with a group or audience. (See his Oct 13, 2015 blog on JohnMaxwell.com). We can’t practice this skill too much.

One thing I want to improve this year is the ratio between relationship-based interactions and task-based interactions with the volunteers I oversee. It’s atrocious to me to think of only having conversations with someone about what days they can give their time. If I don’t have a pulse on what makes them tick, how their family is doing, where they work, or how I can help their serving experience improve, then I’m failing as a leader. Can you tell I feel strongly about this?? It’s the point of our Faith - RELATIONSHIP.

By the way, if you haven’t read any of John Maxwell’s amazing leadership material, I highly recommend “The 5 Levels of Leadership” and “Good Leaders Ask Great Questions.” Which has formed my next point...

2. Decide What Questions to Repeatedly Ask

Andy Stanley (as well as John Maxwell) is big on this one. He says that if you say you value something - genuine worship for example - but are always asking your team questions about something else - like musical talent for instance - they will actually believe your value system ranks musicality as most important, despite what you claim. The things you’re repeatedly asking reveal where your focus lies. 

“Questions reinforce values as well as reveal them… Leaders should be intentional about their questions.” - Andy Stanley, AndyStanley.com, “What Your Questions Reveal” Video. We can use our questions to remind people what matters most and what our mission is as a ministry.

Here are some questions I personally plan to ask more: 

  • How did Sunday go?
  • Were people worshipping?
  • How can we improve planning and communication on the team?

3. Live a Disciplined Life

In her book A Leader In The Making, Joyce Meyer wisely shares, “It concerns me that there are so many people today who want to occupy important positions but who don’t want to accept the duties and responsibilities that go with those positions.” (p. 28). 

If you’re in a leadership role, then God is trusting you to live well. Are there areas of your life where God is calling you to be more balanced, disciplined, excellent? It may be guarding your devotion times, feeding your body better, going to bed on time, or taking thoughts captive. Not only will living a life of godly discipline grow you as an individual, it will directly impact the quality of your influence on others, helping you meet your potential as a leader. 

I’ll end with another wise quote from Joyce: “I encourage you to start viewing discipline and self-control in a whole new way… as helpful keys to good health, peace, prosperity, great relationships, and the satisfaction of fulfilling your purpose.” - Joyce Meyer, JoyceMeyer.org, “Discipline is Not a Dirty Word” Article.

Let’s set our hearts toward growth in our areas of influence, and may God upgrade our leadership abilities this year!