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Leier Newsletters: June 2017: Part 2

Questions that spiritual leaders should ask to avoid burnout

Research by Barna Research and Lifeway Research points to four questions that every spiritual leader should ask himself every year to avoid burnout. If we don't give attention to these, our passion for our ministry can drain away. Here they are:

  1. Do you have a safe person to discuss the problems and pain of your ministry with?

  2. Have you done deep introspection to determine what about your ministry bothers you?

  3. If people who see how you react to your ministry's problems were asked to tell you what they think, would they advise you to make big changes?

  4. To whom and how should you communicate your frustrations?

Socrates gave excellent advice when he said: 'Know thyself.'

Emotional Intelligence (EI)

The primary source is of course Daniel Coleman's book Emotional Intelligence, Why it can matter more than IQ. Leaders on all levels should improve their interpersonal skills. EI is even more important for church leaders than for leaders outside the church.

What is the most important pastoral skill? It isn't the ability to talk in public or time management or theological knowledge – it is social intelligence (also called interpersonal skills). How can you improve your EI? Coleman and others believe that EI is pliable and can be changed. How?

  • Change self-deception into self-awareness

  • Change focusing on yourself into focusing on others

  • Control your temper tantrums

  • Be humble

Habits of people with high EI:

  • They focus on the positive

  • They surround themselves with positive people

  • They set boundaries and can be assertive when necessary

  • They plan ahead and they are willing to forget the past

  • They look for ways to make life more interesting and fulfilling

  • They use their energy wisely

  • They learn continuously and grow towards independence

Studies show that people with vast experience and high IQ fail as leaders more than 25% of the time. Only 3–4% of leaders with high EI plus experience or a high IQ fail. EI coupled with a high IQ or relevant experience is therefore a good predictor of success as a leader.

People are hired for IQ and experience and fired for failing to manage themselves and others well.

How can I determine EI during an interview? By asking the right questions:

  • Who inspires you, and why?

  • If you had to start an organisation tomorrow, what would your three most important values be?

  • If the environment changed, how would you help your team members understand and reach the new goals?

  • Did you continue any friendships from your previous workplace?

  • Which skill would you like to develop further?

  • What are the three most important factors that contributed to your success?

Why is EI so important for leaders?

  • You take better decisions.

  • You handle others better.

  • You become reliable.

  • You will probably succeed more.

  • You will be sorry less often.

Why is EI one of the fastest-growing skills?

  • They handle pressure in a healthy way.

  • They understand and work with others.

  • They are good listeners.

  • They are open to feedback.

  • They are emphatic.

  • They set an example for others to follow.

  • Their decisions are more thorough.

If leaders leave the congregation

It hurts leaders if people leave the congregation. There are many reasons for this. Sometimes it is caused by circumstances. Sometimes it is the natural path of growth and development. According to Forbes Magazine, these are the most common reasons:

  1. We don't lead with vision anymore. Vision is important. It creates momentum and excitement. Vision leads to passion.

  2. We don't allow people to live out their passion. It is important to keep people involved and to bring their passion and opportunities in line with each other. If people are passionate about something, they should simply do it.

  3. We control, rather than trust. Good leaders want to be trusted. Growth – for those in the congregation – means that the responsibility and authority should be shared. The result is leaders learning from you, and then helping to lead and teach other leaders.

  4. No creative involvement. Creative work wants to make things better; our best people want to add value to the congregation. They enjoy challenges and questions. They seek out opportunities to participate and to innovate. We should allow our best people to do their best work.

  5. We don't coach. Leaders are learners. We are all on a journey to improve. Creating a culture of coaching and learning is important.

  6. We don't challenge them anymore. We are responsible for challenging our best people. If people become bored and unmotivated, they go elsewhere.

  7. We don't create safe spaces for them to be heard. We should create spaces in which our best people can be heard. Leaders can't take good decisions if they have only one opinion or set of data. Our best people have valuable information and opinions to share. If we don't listen, good information goes to waste.

  8. We care more about the result than the people. People are important. Once people feel we care more about the product than about them, we will lose them. Put people first and we don't have to worry about the product anymore.

  9. We never share the love. Don't take all the credit; but always take the responsibility. Sharing the credit and praising the team builds value and trust. If we use people for our own agenda, we destroy their morale. If things go well, it's because of the team. If things don't go well, it's because of the leader.

  10. We promise too much and do too little. It helps people to feel that they are winning, but it they don't have the necessary authority, they will disappear. People who feel empowered to lead, want to take on challenges.

We don't have to give attention to these issues, but someone else will. If we look around us and find all our talented people elsewhere, enjoying their lives, gaining momentum, changing the world in another congregation, we shouldn't be surprised.

Fool’s Talk – Os Guinness (2015)

Subtitle: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion


The era of the Internet is the era of the self and the 'selfie'. The world is full of people who are full of themselves. Connections between people are globally characterised by staggering speed and reach. Anyone can communicate with everyone at any time – immediately and inexpensively. Active and interactive communication are both common.

These days, everyone is in the business of self-promotion – showing off themselves, promoting themselves, defending themselves, selling themselves or sharing their innermost thoughts and emotions as never before in history. We are now apologetics, even if only of ourselves. Our purpose in life is to draw as much public attention as possible and to reach as far as we can with our products. And our biggest product is called ... ME.

Are Christians ready for this new era? We are spokespersons for the Lord – His advocates. Despite all the new media, many of us are yet to discover apologetics as profound as the good news that we are preaching – as deep as the heart of a human being, as subtle as human thought, as powerful as the series of people that we meet every day in our extraordinary lives where everyone is everywhere.

Our time is the biggest opportunity for Christian testimony since the time of the apostles. We should snatch up this opportunity with courage and creativity. At the same time, we should be able to handle the challenges of this new communication in a realistic way. Unfortunately, the global era has exposed certain weaknesses in our current approach to faith. The Christian testimony has become unpopular and we have lost the art of Christian persuasion. We now have to work in a world that is becoming increasingly post-Christian and pluralistic. Many churches don't do evangelisation anymore. Others put their trust in a formula and one-size-fits-all evangelisation.

The church stopped appreciating the diversity of humankind – and as a result, our efforts at evangelisation have failed. The Christian testimony has become unpopular and unconvincing. The church has fallen silent and often hides behind a mask of social justice. The problem is that many people are eager to spread the good news, but they are ineffective against people who aren't interested – they just don't care.

Persuasion is the art of persuading disinterested or resistant people to listen to what we have to say. They don't agree with us and aren't open to what we want to say. The problem is that apologetics is all about arguments – about winning arguments rather than winning hearts. Our best arguments should be aimed at winning people, not arguments.

This is so typical of Os Guinness: easy to understand and practical. The art of persuasion is something that everyone should learn.

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