There is no greater leadership laboratory than the local church. No other environment will stretch you in as many different ways, give you as many transferable skills or give you as great a sense of satisfaction. So, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ looking to grow as a leader, you should plunge as deep as possible into the life of a local church. It’s not just pastors who learn to lead in churches. It’s all of us.
Here’s why I will always point to the local church as the ultimate leadership lab:
- High Stakes. You’ll never fight for anything that matters more than someone’s soul. Church isn’t about making a program run. It’s about restoration for dying souls, broken homes, shattered communities and a faltering world. We’re not trying to accomplish small things through the church. We’re participating with God in the biggest things.
- High Standards. If our mission really is that important, mediocrity doesn’t seem appropriate. The local church isn’t the place for weak leadership where people are just happy you’re willing to suit up for the game. There’s too much at stake for that. You should expect to be pushed at your church to do more, achieve more and believe more than you ever thought posssible.
- High Opposition. As vital as the mission of the church is, there are many who oppose our work. The Bible even warns us of spiritual opposition. So, don’t expect a cakewalk where everything’s easy. You’ll hit obstacles, encounter challenges and develop your ability to problem solve.
You should find all three of those things in a local church. But, I’m not naive enough to think they only exist in a local church. The military easily offers all three as do other forms of public service and many private sector companies. Here’s where the church makes her unique contributions:
- High Volunteerism. The work of the church is accomplished through people who never receive a paycheck. Yes, I mean that even though I receive a paycheck from a church. But my job isn’t to do the work of the church. My job is to equip the saints for the work of the church(Eph. 4:12). The real work of Restoration City Church is done through our non-paid volunteers. Want to learn to lead? Then figure out how to motivate, deploy and inspire people without depositing one dollar into their checking account. In all honesty, it’s not just that we don’t pay our volunteers, we actually expect them to give to the church! But here’s what I know – if you can lead volunteers, leading employees will be easy. Nothing will explode your leadership capability like volunteering to lead other volunteers!
- High Grace. It’s okay to fail in the church. It’s okay to take risks and get it wrong. It’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s okay to make a mess. We’ve got a theology for that. We call it grace. God loves us despite all of our brokenness. He redeems and restores us. He does more through our weakness than we could ever dream of accomplishing in our strength. Imagine a space where you were free to fail, learn from your mistakes and keep growing. If you don’t experience that kind of grace as a volunteer at church, you’ve probably stumbled into a church that doesn’t understand the gospel.
Want to be a better leader? Then bust down the door of a local church that will develop, value and empower you and jump on board with God’s mission.