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Leader Newsletter September 2017 | Part II

Shortcuts that leaders should avoid

We live in an instant culture: we can't wait. So shortcuts are everywhere. Some shortcuts are helpful and beneficial, especially when it doesn't lead to loss of quality. There are some shortcuts that leaders should never use. Efficient leadership is often time-consuming. Here are three areas where leaders should rather take the long road:

1. Developing credibility

Leaders can plan their own image while planning their own development. Credibility is the result of sustained integrity over a long period of time. Attempts to take shortcuts on the road to credibility inevitably lead to people behaving in ways that clash with reality.

2. Explaining the vision

Leaders know that organisations and ministries need a clear vision to define them and guide what they do. Explaining and communicating this vision requires time and effort. Leaders need time to listen, to learn the culture, to explore opportunities and to show the way. A photocopied vision, something that the leader read elsewhere, won't reach people's hearts because it was taken out of its intended context. Leaders should never take shortcuts when developing, explaining and defending a vision.

3. Developing others

Leadership development is a long, complicated process. Developing others is one of the leader's most important tasks, but the fruits of his efforts will only be seen years later. Even so, you should never even consider shortcuts here.

Diagnostic decision-taking

We are often uncertain when we must decide between two legal life options. This is part of what it means to be a limited creature in 'n fenced-in world ruled by an unlimited God. For most people, decision-taking is synonymous with some anxiety in our hearts and minds. Of course, we should always turn to God in prayer and ask Him to open the right door for us. Sinclair Ferguson (Discovering God's Will) gives the following diagnostic questions that you should ask when confronted with various life decisions:

  • Is it legal? No action that disagrees with God's word, can ever be legal. We can't claim Christian freedom – it can never justify what is ethically wrong. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

  • Is it beneficial? As far as I can tell, will it strengthen my relationship with Jesus Christ? Will it draw me closer to Him? People may give different answers to this question. Actions that have a neutral influence on one person, may harm someone else. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time, each will receive their praise from God. (1 Corinthians 4:4–5)

  • Is it addictive? The Christian should always be master of himself through the grace of the Spirit. We can take decisions that will exhaust our spiritual energy and commit ourselves to things that will eventually dominate us and become the driving force in our lives. “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

  • Is it in agreement with the rule of Christ? Sometimes people say that the fundamental question is whether you can invite Christ to a go with you. Paul says we have no choice. A Christian cannot decide when to leave Christ at home. The correct question is: 'Can I take Christ with without feeling ashamed in front of Him?' Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honour God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19–20)

  • Will it help others? I can't be satisfied if my conduct benefits only myself. Will it have a positive influence on others? Am I serving and helping them? Christians should balance their freedom against people's strengths and weaknesses.

  • Does it correspond with the Bible's example? What would Jesus do? Are there any incidents or teachings in the Bible that I can apply to my situation? Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. (Philippians 3:17)

  • Is it to the glory of God? So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This challenge applies to us too. It is the unnegotiable norm of Christian life.

If I want to do something, it might not always be easy to answer these questions truthfully. It may help to discuss it with a spiritual mentor.

Social media mistakes that congregations should avoid

Social media is often a source of frustration for congregations. Most congregations don't have the funds to appoint someone to manage their social media on their behalf. But most congregations understand that social media is a necessity and they also have one or more accounts. During the learning process, many mistakes are made. Three mistakes stand out:

Mistake #1: Discrepancies

Messages without discrepancies are necessary in building relationships. Consistent communication is vital. It applies to both personal and online communication. We should fight against discrepancies – it means that you should visit your social media pages every day.

Mistake #2: Going too wide instead of deep

Most congregations have limited resources. Don't spread your resources too thinly. Focus on one social media platform at a time. This will help you to master one platform before moving on to the next. You will know when you are ready to add a second platform. Facebook, with its 2 billion users, is still the most popular platform. Go deep with one platform at a time.

Mistake #3: Make the congregation the heroes

If you only talk about the congregation, you will lose. People are on social media to be social. The media is important for each user, but for different reasons. Ask yourselves: 'What matters to the people that I'm trying to reach, and how can I help?' Everyone, in one way or another, is interested in these three topics. The Bible often talks about these three topics. What wisdom does the Bible supply? How does the Gospel give hope to people struggling with one of these problems? You should continuously seek topics that your audience value and that can help the congregation.

If you've made one of these mistakes, change and fight the pressure to be present on every social media platform.

I want people to like me

Research shows that leaders who prefer acceptance over decisive action can hurt their organisations. The desire to be accepted can creep into a leader's heart and undermine his efficiency. How can we recognise this desire to be accepted in our leadership?

1. Your beliefs change depending on the company you find yourself in

If this happens, your beliefs aren't strong enough

2. One negative conversation can turn your whole day upside down

Leaders sometimes have to take decisions that will upset or disappoint people. They will inevitably be criticised. No one likes to be criticised. A leader that allows one negative conversation to ruin his whole day, is clearly worried about whether he is accepted.

3. You hope that conflict will simply disappear.

Conflict doesn't disappear on its own. Not seeing conflict doesn't mean it is resolved. Leaders who ignore conflict often do it because they are afraid of the difficult conversations that are often needed to resolve the conflict.

4 You spread your resources a bit too thinly

Resources that are spread too thinly will inevitably lead to inefficiency. It happens when you try to divide your resources between too many projects – too many priorities. Why? You are afraid of hurting people and you fund projects in an effort to make and keep people happy.

Good news for Christians. If our desire to be accepted is controlling us, we should remember that Christ already accepted us because of His great love and His sacrifice for us.

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