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Leader Newsletter January 2018 Part 1

Negative feedback

Negative feedback isn’t the problem. You are the problem. How you react to a statement, critique and negative feedback, says a lot about who you are. General negative reactions to negative feedback include arguing, feeling as if you are being attacked, taking it personal, making excuses, denying everything and shifting the blame.

Negative reactions to negative feedback delays growth, destroys progress and you lose people’s respect. You should focus on your reaction to negative feedback. Accepting corrections is vital for your leadership.

Positive reactions to negative feedback include:

1. Gratitude

Don’t pretend that the feedback didn’t hurt. Just say thank you.

2. Questions

Don’t make statements before asking for clarification.

3. Repeat the statements in the feedback.

‘I hear you say ...’

4. Solutions

Ask for possible solutions – one or two will be enough. Keep it simple. Does the solution make sense? If the road ahead doesn’t seem appealing, rather move in another direction.

5. Initiate

Don’t wait – ask for a follow-up session. Meet again after two weeks for a progress report. Don’t wait too long – negative feedback requires swift action.

6. Time

No reaction is better than overreaction. Corrections are difficult to listen to. Listen and, if necessary, ask for time to consider what you’ve heard.

7. Transparency

Include those who are affected by your negative behaviour. Explain what you are working on. You’ll know better than others what you are busy with. After a few days, ask them how you are doing. Open up; don’t push people away. Ask for confirmation when you reach your goal.

If you react well to negative feedback, it builds your character, it increases your influence, and it strengthens your relationships.

The biggest mistakes that experienced leaders make

Here are seven possible mistakes:

  1. Forgetting who serves whom. Leaders serve others so that they can serve in turn. It is very easy to think the people around you are there to serve you. Say to yourself: “I am here to bring out the best in others.”

  2. Blaming rather than accepting responsibility. What do leader do when others under-perform? They ask themselves: “What can I do to improve their achievement?”

  3. Thinking self-perception is accurate. Only a third of us see ourselves as others see us. Find a mentor/coach to do a 360-degree evaluation.

  4. Clinging to poor performers. If someone constantly under-performs, ask yourself: “Would I have appointed this person if I knew what I know now?” If the answer is “No”, should you use them elsewhere, retrain them, redesign their tasks, or should you manage their exit from the organisation?

  5. Giving preference to tasks and neglected people. You should give more feedback to your team. Only the weakest team members don’t want to know how they perform.

  6. Expecting more from others than from yourself. You should challenge your team members, but never stop pushing yourself. Challenge yourself more than you challenge others.

  7. Getting lost in the weeds. Daily pressure can hide the bigger picture for leaders, which can lead to frustration and fatigue.

At the beginning of each day, ask yourself: “What are we really doing here?”

Core issues that congregations should take note of

There are certain core issues that prevent congregations from being what they want to be and going where God has called them. If they identify these issues, they can make plans to overcome them and move forward once again.

Here are five important core issues that many congregations experience:

1. Discipleship

Congregations struggle to create a simple, solid path for discipleship. This path should help regular church-goers as well as newcomers to take the next step with Jesus. Most congregations have a number of programmes, but no overarching path to show people which step to take when.

2. Leadership development

In most congregations this isn’t a priority. But if congregations want to grow, it should be near the top of the list. This shouldn’t be handled as a programme – it is a fundamental aspect of the growth and health of the congregation.

3. Vision

If you agree on a clear vision, it empowers others to lead and to serve. Congregations struggle to decide on their path towards reaching their vision. Some congregations even adopt the visions of other successful congregations instead of having their own.

4. Communication

Few congregations have a professional, relevant communication strategy. It provides internal clarity about what people should do and what the church is really about. For a new person, clear communication defines the congregation’s mission and vision.

5. Lack of volunteers

Many congregations struggle to find and empower enough volunteers.

Meetings don’t equal planning

It feels as if there are never enough hours in a day. An important life lesson for leaders: without a plan, nothing of value will ever be completed. Before a meeting with your team, ask the following questions:

  • Are you honest about where things currently stand?

  • Does the team have a clear calling, vision and core values?

  • Are there clear priorities for the team?

  • Is accountability created by setting target dates and steps for each priority?

Most congregations approach their annual planning with good intentions, but no strategy. Desire without knowledge is not good — how much more will hasty feet miss the way! (Proverbs 19:2). Therefore: get all the facts, plan ahead.

Congregations should formulate a plan to reach more churchless people.

Groups in the church

New Christians often find the church confusing, while they are also trying to make sense of a book that consists of many smaller books. People sing songs that you don’t know and don’t necessarily like. People pray in unusual words, and they seem to know their way around the Bible.

It is upsetting to realise how much acquired knowledge is taken for granted by believers who know the culture of the church. How we talk in the church and address people depend on how you group people. You have to talk in a way that will help your disciples grow, a way that will lead the lost sheep back to the light, a way that will help the seekers understand the gospel and a way that will help those who give resistance to see God.

Some congregations deliberately limit their conversations to Christians over weekends and avoid other groups. The church service is for Christians – insiders who have mastered the language and culture of the congregation. They are motivated to worship and serve God. Other congregations use services to reach those who aren’t Christians yet. In the process they may neglect those believers who want to learn and grow.

This is not a new problem. In Corinth believers were very impressed by dramatic, supernatural gifts – especially speaking in tongues. Paul warned them – rather use prophesy (SPEAK God’s word) than speaking in tongues. The reason for his warning is interesting. So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” (1 Corinthians 14:23 – 25).

There are clearly two groups in this congregation, and the presence and needs of the second group (the non-believers) should modify the behaviour and practices of the first group (the believers).

In order to divide people into groups, we should ask two questions:

  1. Does this person believe?

  2. Is this person interested? Is he/she interested in God/spiritual issues?

Now we can group people who come to a church service into four groups:

1. The disciple: They believe and are interested

Being a disciple is the normal everyday life of believers. Disciples are motivated. They want to learn more about God and His word; they are focused on growth. They accept their calling and purpose in God’s kingdom. These persons should be given the opportunity to see and worship God during the service. Their faith should be challenged by practically implementing God’s word.

2. They believe, but aren’t interested

This is not an unusual stage in the Christian’s life, but still an unhealthy state: But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. (2 Peter 1:9). These people’s priorities and beliefs should be challenged. Focus on the bigger picture for them: the inevitability of the end of life, the emptiness of life without God, the purpose and calling of believers and the grace and mercy of God.

3. The seeker: doesn’t believe yet but is interested

These people are interested in spiritual issues and are motivated to get answers, but don’t understand and accept the gospel yet. They haven’t acted decisively on the gospel yet. They should hear the gospel in a clear, convincing way. They should hear that Jesus died in their place to pay for their sins and that He has risen from the dead as Lord; They should understand what is at stake: forgiveness of sin and a new life – and how you should react – through conversion and faith.

4. Those who give resistance: they don’t believe and aren’t interested.

They usually come to church services in the holidays and at Christmas. Very often their family dragged them there. They can’t wait for the service to end. The message should surprise them with the truth and stir their curiosity, so that they will want to know more.

Not everything said during a service will touch every person’s heart, but the service should have something for every group.

It is very important not to assume anything. Explain all concepts clearly and as simply as possible. Avoid technical jargon as far as possible. Define words not used in everyday speech. If we assume that people will understand the language of insiders, we can’t serve those who don’t know the language. We should pray that we include all the groups and that we speak in a way that will help them: disciples should grow, the lost should be brought back; the seekers must understand and believe the gospel and those to give resistance should turn to God.

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