I went to Darrin Patrick’s seminar on leadership this morning, and I enjoyed how he related all his points back to scripture in 1-2 Timothy. Coincidentally, Darrin is pastor of “The Journey” in St. Louis.
He spoke about three areas of leadership:
- Leadership pitfalls
- Leadership tensions
As far as self-leadership, he urged the room chock-full of church planters first of all to develop a Gospel identity. We must evaluate our motivations and ensure that they are directed and inspired by the Lord and not by selfish ideas of glory, notoriety, or simply to be “cool.” One sure way of doing this is to live a life of “gospel astonishment.” As long as we continue to submit ourselves to scripture and be astonished by the story of the Gospel, we will develop a Gospel identity.
He also spoke strongly about laziness in the lives of church planters. He commented that the church is unfortunately a safe place for lazy, rebellious people to assume positions of leadership.
In speaking of leadership pitfalls, he began by speaking about the important of developing new leaders. However, he said, “The problem with equipping new leaders is that you may be equipping your own assassin.” He spent several minutes urging us to develop eyes of discernment about potential “wolves” in our churches. He said Satan loves nothing more than to try to place problem people in leadership.
- Don’t be “wow-ed” by a person’s gifting. Make sure there is testing and time to allow you to see if the person has the character required for leadership and the commitment to the vision of the existing leaders. “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands…” (1 Timothy 5.22)
- Don’t give in to “age insecurity.” He used the passage in 1 Timothy 4.12, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity.”
- Don’t react because of pressure. Patrick said that under pressure, you rarely make good decisions. Stay true to your vision; be patient; pray and then respond.
- Don’t mistake scaffolding for structure. Basically, he said that it’s tempting to try to build your church or ministry around some key people that come on board, but that we need to remember that some of these folks are short-timers, sent to the church for only a season before moving on. They are more like “scaffolding” – equipment used to help renovate, and not part of the actual long-term structure.
In speaking about leadership tensions, he listed three:
- Change vs. stability. So much change happens in a church plant situation that you need to determine when you might even yourself, as the church planter, be resisting change just because you crave stability. He said it’s never easy to continue to plow ahead toward fulfilling the mission of why God called your church into being. However, he also urged us to always consider our church a “plant.” Stay a missionary force, he said. “You don’t want to become a ‘church’ but a movement.”
- Solitude vs. people. He urged us to prioritize time away from people. If your life is filled with relationships all the time, you will be unable to continue to perceive the overall vision God has given you. Balance the two tensions well, and people will be blessed as the vision is followed. In this, he also urged us to diligently “protect your family from the church.” You don’t want your spouse or kids becoming jaded because of the unkindness and unthoughtfulness of those in a young church plant. Many times, they never know or understand or stop to consider the level of sacrifice that a church planter must make on a daily basis.
- Shepherding vs. leadership. I think he was splitting hairs here, but he described “shepherding” as using ministry to get people “done” (or mature in Christ) and “leadership” as using people to get ministry done. I understood what he was saying but thought it was an unnecessary and unfair way to depict leadership. After all, leadership is described as a spiritual gift in Romans 12.8.
Overall, I found Patrick’s presentation to be imminently encouraging and rooted in the grind of daily church life as well in the soil of scripture.