Practicing Ministry Leadership

It has been over 11 years since I made the transition from practicing leadership in a corporate environment to begin learning what it takes to be an effective leader in a ministry environment. I knew then that it would be different, I just did not know how different. I had hoped that there would be enough similarities that I would be more of an asset than a drain for the church plants where I volunteered. 

I must admit that there were many weeks when I was sure I had the drain part down to a science and the asset hopes were no where to be found. Fortunately guys like Philip Thurman, Greg Miller, Israel Cox, Jeff Simmons and John Woodward were patient with me and my mistakes. Eventually I began to see hope for actually helping a ministry leader some day.

Having a steep learning curve also had the advantage of challenging me to watch for the differences between good ministry leaders and corporate leaders. It required a lot more reading and study as well. I had to find the practitioners who invested the time required to develop an in-depth understanding of what was needed to become an effective ministry leader. What became even more important was finding the experienced leaders who actually learned how to develop other people into effective ministry leaders.

A critical part of both secular and ministry leadership is that a leader does not become a leader until they are reproducing other leaders. To become a very good leader, that reproduction has to occur at the mastery level, which means that they are able to work with almost any kind of person and significantly improve their ability to lead others. I believe this ability to reproduce is the essence of “Practicing Leadership.”

Over the next few posts, I will offer some thoughts about what this practice looks like for leaders in a ministry setting. I will comment on how leaders know what to do and when to do it to really practice reproducing leaders. I also want to provide some thoughts on how to measure a leader’s reproduction results, the clear indicators that they are effective in their practice.

I clearly believe that like the medical arts, leadership is something that a leader must always be learning about and always exercising with others. We don’t say a doctor “does” medicine. We say they practice it. 

A ministry leader also must practice their art of leading others. I find it interesting that lives are at stake for both the doctor and the ministry leader. The ministry leader has the added pressure of the lives they impact are facing an eternity of living with a ministry leaders practice results. -Johnny Ervin