Pastoral leadership is one of the most difficult yet rewarding leadership positions available. On a daily basis, I have the opportunity to encourage people in their faith and exhort them to live according to Scripture. Yet, part of pastoral leadership is leading volunteers. Some say that leading volunteers is comparable to herding cats (If you are part of my staff, I don’t think this is true!) This makes it more difficult than leading a business because there is no financial incentive to encourage productivity.
Below are three leadership lessons YOU should apply today; ESPECIALLY if you lead in the business sector:
1. Lead with vision.
Most of the people I lead in The Rescue Church are volunteers. This requires visionary leadership which is sadly lacking in many organizations. In the rat race of life, it is tempting to dangle financial rewards in front of employees in order to get results. This obviously does not work with volunteers – You MUST exercise leadership that goes far beyond monetary reward.
Successful leadership implements vision in every meeting; failing leadership begrudgingly offers financial security to gain loyalty.
At EVERY opportunity you should bring your people back to the vision of your company. Do NOT assume that people automatically connect their positions to the larger goal of your organization. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to share your organization’s vision too frequently.
2. Lead with integrity and transparency.
Paul directs pastors to lead lives that are “above reproach”. The majority of leadership qualifications in Scripture have to do with inner characteristics instead of outer performance. Although Paul is speaking specifically to leaders in the church, it would be helpful to apply these characteristics to ALL forms of leadership.
According to 1 Timothy 3:2-7, leaders should have the following characteristics:
- Faithfulness to family
- Hospitable to strangers
- Not greedy
Hundreds of studies have shown that ethical businesses are more profitable over time than those that focus solely on generating profit. Therefore, lead the way by exercising integrity in all of your activities, even those that do not directly affect your company. You should invite men and women to hold you accountable to the standards you have set. As a leader, you should offer your way of life as a model for those who follow you.
3. Lead your staff relationally.
Pastors intentionally build culture within the people they lead. The relationships they build with their staff are organic and influential. Pastors truly desire to know and care for those that are under their leadership.
As a business leader, you should exercise shepherd leadership. Lead in such a way that your primary focus is on cultivating character rather than generating profit; if your staff grows in their character it is inevitable they will become more productive employees.
This can be as simple as taking a genuine interest in those you lead. If your organization allows it, ask if you can pray for the employee. Even non-Christians find this comforting and encouraging. Another way you can do this is by going out of your way to encourage your employees with occasional thank-you cards, free lunches, flexible schedules, etc.
YOU should lead with vision, integrity, and relationships. What other leadership lessons can be gained from leading volunteers? Let me know by leaving a comment!