Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Everything rises and falls on leadership

Yesterday's blog article looked at the impact leadership has on the life of a church or other organization. Several years ago John Maxwell wrote one of the best leadership books ever written, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (10th Anniversary Edition). If you've never read this book, you should. In the book he makes the statement, "Everything rises and falls on leadership."

This statement is in the first chapter titled "The Law of the Lid." This law says that the lid of any organization is found in its leadership. If the leaders have a leadership ability of a three, the organization can never rise above a two in effectiveness. If that lid can be raised to an eight, the organization can then rise to a seven in effectiveness. This is a powerful law that demonstrates that the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of any organization is directly related to the leadership abilities of its leaders.

I heard Maxwell speak to this before I read the book. I attended a conference he was doing to promote the book, and when he began talking about the Law of the Lid I became angry. The church I pastored was not doing well at the time. The small business we owned, and I managed, was also not doing well. I was frustrated with both and was convinced if people would just do what they were supposed to do both the church and the business would do better. Now, Maxwell is saying that these problems were my fault!

I was the leader of both organizations, and if the organizations were not doing well it was a direct reflection on my leadership. I didn't like what he was saying, and I don't think I remember him talking about the next two laws as I processed his comments on the law of the lid. I finally realized he was right. It was my fault.

If I wanted the church to do better, I had to be a better pastor and leader. If I wanted our business to do better, I had to do a better job of providing leadership to that business. I was the lid holding both organizations down.

About that same time I read another book on turning around troubled churches. The author of that book stated that it required new leadership in order to turn around a troubled church. As I wrestled with that I wondered if this was all an indication I needed to leave the church. Eventually, I decided that I could become a different pastor and learn to lead in a new way.

The next Sunday I shared with our congregation some of my frustrations with the church and my leadership. I told them that according to one author our church could not change without new leadership and how I had considered that perhaps my time there was finished. Some became concerned I was about to resign (others were hopeful!) until I told them that I had decided to be the different leader the church needed. That began a transition time as I had to learn new ways of leading and serving, but it also became a springboard from which our church began to move forward in positive ways.

The pastoral and lay leadership in every church determines the level of that church's effectiveness. If you are frustrated at how things are in your church, take a long look at the leadership you are providing. For some reason, the people are not responding to that leadership, and it is the height of arrogance to assume that they are all wrong. If your church or business is going in the wrong direction, and you can't turn that around, you have to change something in the way you are leading that church. You could be in a church that will never change regardless of what you do. In that case you may need to leave them to their dysfunction, but don't assume that until you attempt to make some changes in your leadership first.

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