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How do you define vision? Is it 20/20 eyesight or lack thereof?  Not in ministry! Vision is the answer to this simple question: Where are you going? The organization you lead will move forward toward one of two places: the destination of your planning or somewhere you did not intend.

The key to determining the right direction is vision. Vision is not a far-fetched, unattainable fantasy, but rather a realistic picture of what you want and need your organization to become. Vision is also a reflection of your values and the core reasons your ministry exists.

John Maxwell writes in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, “The truth is that nearly anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course…they see the whole trip in their minds before they leave the dock. They have a vision for their destination…”

The captain of the vessel won’t get his ship to port by himself – he needs a crew motivated to reach the destination as well. Teamwork! If vision is to be attained, then it must be shared by everyone within the organization. Leaders can write the vision on paper and even talk about it often, but unless he or she sways the staff to share the vision, the effort will not be enough. The captain must define the destination, inspire the crew to get there, and believe above all else they will reach the destination together. 

"Leaders can write the vision on paper and even talk about often, but unless he or she sways the staff to share the vision, the effort will not be enough." 

Here are four keys to do just that with your staff:

1. Chart The Course

Establishing your vision is the most important step in achieving it. You may not have all the details at first, but clearly identifying and communicating the ultimate goal with your team is paramount. This can be accomplished through meetings and other modes of communication so that everyone knows the course being charted. As a leader, set a realistic and attainable destination that is challenging and include a timeline for completion.

2. Connect With The Crew

While you may have a firm grasp on your vision, allow staff under your influence to give input and help fully develop the process. Impart your vision in such a way that it becomes their vision. Taking time to connect with your crew will provide ownership for everyone involved and will increase their drive to help the vision become reality. A vision will capture the big picture for your organization and it will take the combined efforts of many individuals to make it happen.

"Taking time to connect with your crew will provide ownership for everyone involved and will increase their drive to help the vision become reality."  3. Count The Significance Of The Voyage In the book Visioneering, Andy Stanley writes, “Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.” He uses the example of filling bags with dirt and how that can be an exercise in the mundane and boring. But if a person is filling the bags to save their family or town from a flood, it takes on incredible significance. Communicate to your team that whether you’re swabbing the deck or steering the ship, every effort contributes toward the vision and its significance.
4. Continue To Keep The Destination In Sight

Distractions and setbacks will abound and will try to thwart your efforts. It’s imperative to keep the vision before you with constant reminders. Have your staff consistently review their ministry to ensure it is moving them toward the desired destination. If not, then help them in a positive way to correct their course to get back on track.

Here are some questions for reflection: What vision am I casting for my organization? How am I casting that vision with my staff? How is my ministry striving to achieve its vision?

Similar: Why Your Church Staff Isn't Bought Into Your Vision

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The process of interviewing and vetting candidates is always challenging. It can be difficult to understand and interpret a resume to get an accurate sense of an individual's employment history and skillset; it can be even harder to get a candidate to transparently discuss his or her ministry path and past experiences.

One of the more frustrating situations organizations encounter during the interviewing process is having a top candidate receive a negative reference from a former employer after checking all of the boxes throughout the interview process.

Here are four things to keep in mind if a candidate receives a negative reference:

1. There Are Always Two Sides To The Story 

Did the candidate give you any advance notice of the potential negative situation? If so, how did the candidate communicate the situation they left? Was the reference’s account congruent with what the candidate said? If so, that’s positive.

We’ve all made a mistake in our job at some point. What’s most important is learning how the candidate has grown from the experience and how they have put in checks and balances to ensure the mistake doesn’t become a pattern.

"What’s most important is LEARNING how the candidate has grown from the experience and how they have put in checks and balances to ensure the MISTAKE doesn’t become a pattern."  2. Assess The Situation From Which They Came

Are they coming from an environment that has a reputation of being unhealthy? Does the individual reference have a reputation in the church community of being particularly difficult? It’s easy to jump to conclusions. However, as leaders, it’s important to be forgiving of certain reputations that you may come across during your search.

"It’s easy to jump to conclusions. however, as leaders, it’s important to be forgiving of certain reputations that YOU may come across DURING your search."  3. Analyze The Context

If candidates receive negative feedback, was the environment of their former church different from yours? Just because they weren’t a good fit at their former church doesn’t necessarily mean they will be a bad fit at your church. For example, take worship styles. No matter how great an individual may be personally, spiritually, or from a leadership standpoint, if they are a stylistically modern worship leader, they will struggle to get a positive reference from an ultra-traditional church.

4. Seek Opinions You Trust

If you get a negative reference for a candidate that doesn’t sit well with you, consider discussing the comments with strategic staff in your organization whom you trust. Does this person fit within the framework of your organization and the future of the company? Does the staff you currently have see any potential roadblocks to success in your organization? Your brightest subordinates may provide some invaluable insight on whether or not these potentials can fit with your culture.

At the end of the day, references may be a bit of “he said, she said” conversations, so it is important to take them with a grain of salt. There will always be underlying motives that may not be brought to light when you are speaking to just one person.

The most important thing to consider is how forthcoming the candidate was. Were you caught off guard when you spoke with a reference or were you informed beforehand? I like to tell candidates that “I can handle anything...except a surprise.”

When the candidate is forthcoming about an issue, make sure you ask what they learned and how they grew, and inquire about speaking with an unbiased third party about they handled it.

What are the best ways that you have learned on how to discern negative references?

Similar: 6 Tips To Being An Effective Reference For A Candidate

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Listen Now ON ITUNES | TUNEIN | STITCHER

On today’s Vandercast, Holly Tate talks with Ryan C. Bailey, founder, principal counselor, coach, and trainer of 1st Principle Group, which provides counseling and coaching services to Christian clients nationwide.

He and Holly talk about how pastors and church leaders can seek emotional, spiritual, and relational health so they can build high-performing teams.

About Ryan

Ryan is a graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary where he earned a Master of Arts in Christian Counseling. He has also completed World Harvest Mission’s Sonship and Sonship Apprentice courses and is certified in Prepare/Enrich.

Since 2004, Ryan has worked with over 800 private clients and facilitated 58 groups. Additionally, Ryan has joined forces with Access Christian Counseling in Decatur and Cumming, Georgia. In his practice of Pastoral/Biblical Counseling, Ryan works with individuals, couples, households, groups and organizations.

Guest Links: Quotes from Ryan:

“Think of counseling as healing. So it’s often like resolving something in the past to make the present better. Think of coaching as growth. So often it’s helping somebody who has a vision or something they want to achieve or helping somebody who’s stuck in an area of life and helping them move forward from there.” 

“A real common misconception is that counseling is just about truth telling and so it’s about giving someone the right information and then they change because you have this ‘special training.’ It’s much more about the relationship. It’s about two people being authentic and being real and letting each other in at a real depth.”

“I would highly encourage pastors to get into relationships and to invest in relationships. Not just with their wife and kids, but somebody outside the church. Just somebody completely different that they can just be real with.” 

The Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast brings you interviews from leaders across the theological spectrum of the global Church. Our goal is to bring you thought-provoking interviews that encourage you, challenge you, and help you build, run, and keep great teams.

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I spent a large portion of my ministry as a Student Pastor. Like many with a student ministry background, I remember many aspects of my experience fondly; others, I'd like to forget. Regardless, my years as a student pastor were foundational as I learned invaluable lessons that taught me how to lead well.

As I look back on my early years of ministry, however, I realize that there were areas in which nobody took the time to coach me. I was left, sometimes, to learn on my own.

If you’re currently a new leader in ministry or have one on your team, here are seven areas of leadership to focus on developing.

1. Understand The Bigger Picture

In life, and in ministry, it's often difficult to see the forest for the trees (or so the saying goes). You step into a new role or new church and you’re drowning in details, having to remember names, adopt to a new culture – the list goes on. Be mindful that your work is a part of something bigger. It’s often easy to lose sight of the fact that you and every other team member are commissioned to help push the entire organization forward, not just your role or area of expertise.

How can you adopt the vision of the organization and adapt it to your specific environment?

2. Carry Yourself With Professionalism

If you're a young leader in ministry, focus on maturing as a professional. For example, you might be a new Student Pastor. Student Pastors need to relate to teenagers and adults alike. However, I’ve seen numerous Student Pastors fail to understand that they themselves are no longer students. Relevance should not be an excuse for immaturity. Have fun creating an engaging culture for students to engage in a relationship with Christ, but carry yourself as a leader and not another eighteen year old.

How can you be mindful of when it’s appropriate to act like a student and when it’s time to show some maturity?

"Have fun and create an engaging culture for students to engage in a relationship with Christ, but carry yourself as a leader and not another eighteen year old."  3. Study

It is the perfect season for you to continue to grow and learn. Although it may not seem possible due to time constraints, you likely have more time now than you will later. Things only get more consuming as time goes on. Use your time wisely and invest in the leader you want to be in the future.

What are you reading and how are you currently growing yourself?

4. Know Who You Are & Who You Are Not

At Vanderbloemen Search Group, we are always asking candidates what type of leader they are. Typically, we find there are three areas that pastors operate in (some more than others).  

  • The teacher – those who love to study God's Word and prepare to engage a crowd with a message. These generally thrive on stage and enjoy communicating.
  • The pastor – those that truly love the one-on-one encounters and by nature are counselors, mentors, and listeners. Shepherding is what fuels this group.
  • The leader – those that thrive on systems and team building. Candidates that enjoy motivating people and spearheading initiatives.

In full-time ministry, we generally wear all these hats. However, as a young leader, you should begin to determine which area fuels you most and how you best operate. Know where you’re strong and where you’re weak. Self-awareness is a valuable commodity.

What type of leader are you and what areas do you thrive in?

5. Arrogance Will Get You Nowhere

Nobody likes arrogance. Don’t sink yourself before you’ve started. The best leaders live with open hands and humility. Jesus came to serve, not to be served. I’ve often heard it said that humility can be learned in public or in private but the choice is ours to make.

What are you doing to keep your pride in check?

6. Organize Your Time

We all have to choose how to use the same amount of hours each day. I’m a big believer in knowing exactly where that time goes. If you're not managing your time, then I can almost guarantee you that you are losing hours each day to pointless causes. This would have revolutionized my early ministry. Spend the next week logging each of your hours on a calendar and I can guarantee you’ll be more productive, or at least have more time to kill in the future.

What can you start putting on a regular schedule to streamline your time?

7. Replicate Yourself

Begin the succession process, even if you're not the Senior Pastor. Pinpoint two to three possible candidates that can do your job and begin to invest time into them. One of the worst things you can do is leave your role and the current team empty-handed. Your leadership will shine the brightest if, when you leave, your absence isn’t felt.

Can you name two to three key volunteers that you’re investing heavily into?

"One of the worst things you can do is leave your role and the current team empty-handed. Your leadership will shine the brightest if, when you leave, your absence isn’t felt." 

Ministry isn’t for the faint of heart. For example, the national average tenure of a Student Pastor is just 18 months. If you’re a current Student Pastor or a young leader, take these tips and begin to apply them. Seek out a coach or mentor to walk with you through these areas. If you’re a Senior Pastor or team leader that has young leaders on the team, spend some time investing in them. Help them become the leader and pastor God has called them to be.

Similar: 4 Qualities Of Exceptional Student Pastors

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LISTEN NOW ON ITUNES | TUNEIN | STITCHER

On today’s Vandercast, William talks with Dr. Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas.

Dr. Floyd has been a pastor since he was twenty years of age and has served as the Senior Pastor of Cross Church since 1986. He is the author of more than 20 books on Christian prayer and discipleship. His most recent book, Living Fit: Make Your Life Count By Pursuing A Healthy You, was released June 1, 2018.

He and William talk about how to maintain a healthy, well-rounded, and purposeful life that honors God while being agents of change in the world.

About Dr. Floyd

Dr. Ronnie Floyd has been a pastor for 40+ years. His experience, wisdom, and passion for God make him a powerful proclaimer of God’s Word. He teaches principles from the Bible that encourages and uplifts thousands of people all over the world via TV, the Internet, podcasts, radio, speaking engagements, and books.

Since 1986, Pastor Floyd has served as the Senior Pastor of Cross Church, Northwest Arkansas. In June 2016, he completed a two-year elected term as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Floyd’s ministry as a local church pastor has been one of commitment to evangelism, discipleship, and the advancement of the Gospel to America and around the world. As well, he continues to lead in the advancement of racial unity in America and championing spiritual awakening in America.

In 2001, Dr. Floyd founded The Summit, the businesspersons’ luncheon of Northwest Arkansas, a weekly lunch seminar which hosts guest speakers from across the country. Each spring and fall, leaders share their insights on business, leadership, ethics, success, and life principles and values.

Dr. Floyd has been a strategic leader in the Southern Baptist Convention for decades, serving throughout the denomination he loves in keeping with his commitment to invest in others to win the world for Christ. Dr. Floyd served as the first and only General Editor of the relaunch of LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum series, assembling the advisory team that breathed fresh life into the most-used Bible study series in the world and consulting on its continued development.

Pastor Floyd has authored 20 books including The Power of Prayer and Fasting, 10 Things Every Minister Needs to Know, Our Last Great Hope: Awakening the Great Commission, and FORWARD: 7 Distinguishing Marks For Future. His most recent book Living Fit: Make Your Life Count By Pursuing A Healthy You was released in June 2018. In March of 2017, Dr. Floyd began a weekly podcast entitled, Ronnie Floyd on Life and Leadership Today.

Pastor Floyd’s proudest accomplishments stem from his personal life. He and his wife, Jeana, have been married for 40 years. They have two sons, Josh and Nick. Josh is married to Kate, and they have three sons, Peyton, Parker, and Jack. Nick is married to Meredith, and they have a son, Beckham and three daughters, Reese, Norah and Maya Faith.

Guest Links: Quotes from Dr. Floyd:

“We live in a very dysfunctional, busy, divided day and time in this country and, to me, if we're going to be able to be agents of influence and agents of change, we better have a healthy life encompassing all of these areas.” 

“God wants me to be functional and he wants me to be together so that whatever comes my way, I can respond in the Godly fashion and in the Biblically based fashion that will honor the Lord.” 

“God wants to use us until we take our last breath on this earth.” 

The Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast brings you interviews from leaders across the theological spectrum of the global Church. Our goal is to bring you thought-provoking interviews that encourage you, challenge you, and help you build, run, and keep great teams.

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I served as a Lead Pastor for well over two decades. In order to be the best I could be with the gifts I had been given, I relentlessly pursued outside activities and experiences that would sharpen my skills, from graduate school to continuing education, leadership conferences and seminars, I worked hard to achieve effective and transformative pastoral leadership.

In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul writes to a young, aspiring, and impressionable pastor named Timothy, and says these words:

"...I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage - with great patience and careful instruction...keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry" (2 Timothy 4:1-2, 5 (NIV)).

Good, great, got it, done! Who doesn’t want to follow Paul’s admonition? Who doesn’t want to be exceptional in what they do? As busy leaders, it would be easy to use a check list: today I study, on Sunday I teach, then I counsel, officiate at weddings and funerals, lead meetings with staff and elders, and on and on. Paul was one of the most motivating and inspiring leaders of all time. He was a theologian, author, public speaker, missionary, and apologist. Paul knew who he was, whose he was, and he had a purpose.

Paul’s extraordinary ministry however, was not through his heritage, education, or ambitions. He was passionate about being internally focused on his relationship with God. He knew and understood that leadership is an inside job, meaning the fruit of our leadership is in direct correlation to the condition of our inner person.

Inspired by the ministry of Paul, here are three keys for effective, spiritually charged leadership:

1. Be Authentic

Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not. Often, when I’m working with a church about finding their next staff person, the search team will share names with me of popular, well-known individuals who lead nationally recognized ministries. It’s always a tongue-in-cheek conversation, but they offer up these names up so that we can find someone “just like that” for them. I get it, we all have people that we look to, aspire to be a little more like, or they have qualities that attract our attention. I’m confident that some of us, at some point, secretly want to be someone we’re not and never will be. That’s a problem, it’s self-defeating, and it grieves our Creator.

To acknowledge and accept that God has made you as you are, with your personality, gifting, strengths and even weaknesses is a powerful self-awareness and catalyst that will serve you well. Don’t hide behind a facade…be who you are and embrace it. To say I look like Brad Pitt is a wild stretch of the imagination and won’t make it so! To say I want to reflect the image of Christ by being authentic and humble is a powerful weapon in your tool belt. Be you…be authentic.

"To acknowledge and accept that God has made you as you are, with your personality, gifting, strengths and even weaknesses is a powerful self-awareness and catalyst that will serve you well."  2. Embrace Integrity

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines integrity as "firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values, an unimpaired condition, the quality or state of being complete or undivided."

I like the idea of being complete and undivided. You see, leadership rises and falls on integrity. We see and hear daily examples of leaders who are in positions of power and influence who give in to the temptation to twist truth, open the door to moral gray zones, and side step practical concerns to overrule ethical standards. When that happens, effective leadership is compromised and there will be a trail of devastation and remorse to follow.  

Proverbs 10:9 (NIV) says, "Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but whoever takes crooked paths will be found out."

We must realize that integrity speaks volumes about our character and when we don’t protect our hearts, our integrity is eroded, character is tarnished, and we sacrifice moral high ground. Embrace integrity and guard your heart with all diligence.

3. Live Your Mission

Nothing is more exhilarating (and at times, exhausting) than to live on point with the mission that you have been given. Nothing is more rewarding.

The Apostle Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 15:58, "So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless."

Rabbi Howard Kushner, a prominent American rabbi and author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, writes these words: "The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and to share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people's lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them."

Living your mission boils down to knowing how God has intrinsically wired you on the inside – to love God and serve others. At the end of the day, your leadership and ministry will not be about your calendar, daily activities, your achievements, or the accolades you receive. It’s about leading, loving, and serving from the inside out. It’s about allowing God to continue His work in you, in any way He chooses, in all kinds of ways, and in His time. It’s about you leading and living from authenticity, integrity, and staying on point and living the mission.

"When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought into other people's lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them." 

What is spiritually-charged leadership to you? What qualities do you value in an effective leader?

Similar: 4 Questions Great Leaders Ask Themselves

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I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review about how Private Equity Firms hire CEOs for companies that quickly need to be turned around. It got me thinking about churches in decline and in need of a new pastor to help lead them into a new season of growth.

Here are six lessons churches can learn from businesses and other organizations about finding a new leader to navigate a season of transition.

1. Experience is overrated

When I’m brought in to help a church find a new Senior Pastor, it’s often after a season of decline. When I ask what they are looking for, they often talk about their hope of finding someone with a significant amount of experience leading a church – someone who has led as a Senior Pastor.

However, the skills needed to turnaround a declining church are not always those built through long-term leadership in another church. Often, the best leaders for a season of transition are leaders who think outside the box and are willing to try new things.

Yes, they should have a track record of driving growth in some setting, but it doesn’t need to be as a Senior Pastor. If you are looking for a new pastor to help turnaround your church, look for someone younger with fresh ideas, but with the emotional intelligence to navigate your unique situation.

"If you are looking for a new Pastor to help turnaround your church, look for someone younger with fresh ideas, but with the emotional intelligence to navigate your unique situation."  2. Team-building skills are paramount

More than top-down leadership or even a big vision, turnaround pastors need to be able to build teams – both within the church and within the community. They can build trust, leverage talent, and find creative ways to mobilize teams in ways that prepare the church for growth. Rather than look for someone with a big vision, find someone with the ability to build effective teams.

3. Resilience is a must

Most organizations – but especially churches – are resistant to change. Even in the face of steep decline when it’s evident that continuing down the current path may lead to a church closing its doors for good, most churches will opt for a leader who will keep doing the same things the church has already been doing, only better.

So when a new leader steps in and starts making the necessary changes that could potentially lead to growth, all kinds of resistance crops up. To navigate this resistance, the turnaround leader will need to be resilient. They need to listen. They need to find ways to continue to cast their vision, but they also need to hold the course in the face of opposition so that the organization can make a turnaround.

"They need to find ways to continue to cast their vision, but they also need to hold the course in the face of opposition so that the organization can make a turnaround."  4. Authenticity is key

Great turnaround leaders are ruthlessly honest about how things are going. They identify problems. They admit failures. They speak plainly and sometimes bluntly about the challenges that the organization faces. Turnaround churches do not need a politician or even a pastor who makes people feel better about how slowly their ship is going down. Nor do they need a mad scientist who works out a secret plan with a few other leaders. They are leaders who are open, honest, and real.

5. Urgency must be balanced with empathy

The Harvard Business Review article suggests that in turnaround situations in companies, urgency is often much more important than empathy. When it comes to turnaround churches, I disagree. For a church in decline, there is a negative momentum that not only needs to be stemmed, but reversed. That will require quick and urgent action. Sometimes it involves re-aligning staff or budgets, starting new programs and/or restructuring old programs or sometimes eliminating them altogether. While the conventional wisdom says don’t change for a year, declining churches can’t wait that long and the right leader will understand that instinctively. But unlike a business, churches are about people. The effective leader will know how to balance urgency with empathy for those who are struggling with change.

"BUT unlike a business, churches are about people. the effective leader will know how to balance urgency with empathy for those who are struggling with change."  6. Don’t expect them to stay forever

It's worth stating: the turnaround pastor will likely not end up being your long term leader. Their unique skill will be in identifying problems and then implementing creative solutions. They will bring a new culture and vision, and with it, a new identity that will set the table for long-term sustained growth. The skills that are needed in a turnaround church are not the skills you will need for your next season. The type of leaders who are good at turning things around will probably want to find a new opportunity to do what they’ve done with you. Don’t despair about it. Celebrate it. And then find the pastor who can take you to the next season of growth.

What lessons have you learned about leadership in your seasons of transition? What qualities of a transitional leader do you feel are most important?

Similar: 6 Ways To Prepare For A Pastoral Transition 

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One of the core values of Vanderbloemen Search Group is: "Ever-Increasing Agility." As a company, we strive for agility to serve our clients and candidates with excellence in an ever-changing marketplace.

Whether it’s societal or cultural norms, our personal lives, our jobs, our communities, our nation, or our world, change is all around us. As Christian leaders and thinkers, we have to be able to navigate, grow, and even thrive in that tension.

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church says, "Irrelevance happens when the speed of change outside an organization is greater than speed of change inside an organization."

Here are 3 key reminders on how to strive for agility in a changing environment:

1. Be open and keep growing

A few years ago, my parents bought their first iPhone. They went from a simple flip-phone to a ‘smart’ phone. I remember talking to my mom a few days after the purchase and she told me that she and my dad unwittingly skipped dinner the first night they had the phones because they were so fascinated by this new technology – of course my mom was most impressed with all the puzzle apps available to purchase. The point? My parents still want to be relevant. They are still inquisitive and willing to learn new things and for the most part, they are adaptable to change.

How are you staying on the cutting edge of ministry? How well are you leading your church through change? How teachable are you? Are you leading strong, taking risks, and leading by example? You cannot be effective in our ever-changing world until you’re committed to personal growth and to staying agile.

"You cannot be effective in our ever-changing world, until you’re committed to personal growth and to staying agile."  2. Don’t be surprised by resistance

Understanding and embracing change is an art. As a visionary and a leader, you live with the thought of what could be instead of "it’s always been this way." That’s the beauty and the angst of leadership. It’s a practiced discipline that not everyone practices. Instead, most leaders need time to process and are not early adopters when it comes to having their space and comfort zone violated.

Throughout my career as a pastor, it was normal for me and the leadership team to introduce a new ministry or initiative after lengthy conversations and planning sessions. We knew that not implementing change would, over time, have a negative impact on ministry effectiveness. Not everybody saw it that way. Surprised? How many times have I heard, “but that’s not the way we’ve always done it”? Too many. Human nature suggests that dragging our feet, procrastinating, or being overly protective and resistant to change is normal. It’s almost a learned reflexive action. Don’t be surprised by resistance to change, but learn to be agile, patient, and steady. You may have to plant and water some seeds at first, but know that in time, you will see good things happen and change will come. Embracing an "Ever-Increasing Agility" will take patience and fortitude, but it will happen.  

"Don’t be surprised by resistance to change, but learn to be agile, patient, and steady. You may have to plant and water some seeds at first, but know that in time, you will see good things happen and change will come."  3. Learn to Celebrate the Wins

I have a couple of friends and family members that had either a joint replacement or reconstructive surgery. Each time, some form of physical therapy was required to restore and increase muscle movement and physical agility. Through many hours of vigorous therapy and exercise, they got stronger and were eventually back to normal.

You learn during the process of recovery, to celebrate the small steps that we sometimes take for granted – even the smallest improvement was called for a party!

When it comes to change in your leadership arena, you may need to start small and slow. If you are communicating why change is necessary, implementing that change well, and exercising your faith muscles, eventually the speed and scope of that adjustment or modification will begin to gain momentum. Acceptance and agility will increase and become more natural and even anticipated over time. Remember to take time to step back and enjoy what God is doing. Celebrate the wins!

The Bible tells us God’s mercies are new every morning. This suggests, that no matter what happens around us today, we have hope for a new tomorrow. Nothing stays the same. Change is inevitable and it’s not going away. As leaders, we have the sacred privilege of helping those we lead to embrace and accept change. That doesn’t mean lowering the bar or disobeying the Word. Instead, it means that as we learn to lean into Him, we find new strength, fresh wind, and an "Ever-Increasing Agility" to serve those around us.  

What are some of the core values your team has implemented to establish and reinforce the staff's culture?

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In today's Vandercast, William Vanderbloemen, founder and CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group, talks with Derek Harden, lead pastor at Christ Fellowship in Kingsport, Tennessee. A former college football player at The Ohio State University, Derek felt a call to share the transforming power of Jesus with others, which led him to leave the corporate world to pursue a job in ministry. He and William talk about the importance of establishing trust when transitioning into a position held by a long-tenured leader.

About Derek

Derek is an authentic and relatable communicator who passionately engages people to grow in awareness of God and to embrace their God-given identity and purpose. He strives to boldly preach the truth of God in a way that is practical and applicable in the real world. Derek believes that the Church is purposed to partner with God to redeem individuals, families, workplaces, and communities.

The former Teaching Pastor of Bayou City Fellowship Church in Houston, TX, Derek is a dynamic leader with a heart to develop people and to see them become all God designed them to be. A former wide receiver and special team’s member of The Ohio State University varsity football team (2004-2007), Derek obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from OSU in 2007. His previous career in corporate America enables him to uniquely relate to a broad audience both inside and outside of the church.

Derek and his wife, Kate, have 3 beautiful children who bring lots of fun to their home.

Guest Links: Quotes from Derek:

"When people know the ‘why’, and they don’t see you trying to do everything at once and make these wholesale adjustments, I think they appreciate and it builds trust." 

“If we see conflict, we see negative things happen as a problem to get through. Versus, this could be the thing that accelerates our team to be one. And that changes how we approach it.” 

"I knew I had to build trust and that wasn’t going to happen overnight. And so for me, to put money in the bank or put deposits in a trust – that’s going to take time." 

The Vanderbloemen Leadership Podcast brings you interviews from leaders across the theological spectrum of the global Church. Our goal is to bring you thought-provoking interviews that encourage you, challenge you, and help you build, run, and keep great teams.

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Too much is on the line for church leaders to fail to be transparent to staff. From a moral and ethical standpoint, the role of pastor mandates a duty to lead beyond the responsibilities of a “typical” businessman. One way this is accomplished is through clear and transparent communication. Too often, however, church leaders struggle with communicating feedback and taking steps toward conflict resolution.

Time and time again, I've heard the story of Youth Pastor Jake who is rocking along in his first ministry position. Because he’s new to ministry, he’s likely seen minimal-to-moderate growth in terms of attendance, spiritual depth, events, and programming, yet he feels pretty good about the job and all that he has been doing in his role.

However, right before Christmas he gets blindsided when he sits down with his pastor for the first time and has a negative review. All along, he had received minimal feedback from his pastor – if any at all – along with little-to-no direction. Now, he's completely deflated and likely even questioning his role in the church, worrying if he is going to be able to support his family as his job may now be in jeopardy.

This situation is not his fault. His pastor and all senior leaders have too much on the line to wait until a review to provide their feedback and criticism to a staff member. Pastors not only have a duty to the Kingdom but also a duty to the families that faithfully serve alongside of them to help them grow and develop in their vocation.

Here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, we have a collaborative and open environment. We have weekly meetings with all our staff where we celebrate our wins, work on big projects, and build vision and culture. Additionally, we have monthly departmental meetings in which our team leaders check in with staff, encourage teamwork and collaboration, and see how our daily work is helping meet both team and individual goals.

These meetings are regular check-ins that serve as a way to hold people responsible and increase transparency in order to bring the best out of each employee. While there is always a clear “leader” of a conversation, we never try and limit the voice and input of staff. Collaboration is key in all that we do. We don’t value “yes,” we value the truth. Real shaping and leadership development occurs within that truth.

Collaboration is key in all that we do. We don’t value “yes,” we value the truth and real shaping and leadership development occurs within that truth. 

Even with regular meetings and staff development times, we still hold two to three reviews throughout the year for each staff member. Due to the clear and consistent communication throughout the year, there are hardly ever any surprises during these reviews.

If Youth Pastor Jake had regular meetings and opportunities to receive feedback, he could have had a much better sense of the direction of his work and would not have been blindsided by the feedback from his review.

I still maintain that official reviews are an important part of a healthy church or organizational structure. However, “review times” should be seen as check-ins in which you take a break from the regular day and reassess where you are headed as an employee and what you have to do to meet the goals for the year. Staff reviews allow us to take a brief step back from working in the organization to work on the organization. The common denominators of any official review should always ask and answer the following based on clear, measurable goals. 

  • What has the individual done to advance the goal?
  • What has the individual lacked in when accomplishing the goal?
  • What has changed since the last time you talked about this goal and is the goal still relevant?
  • What can you, as the reviewer, do to empower the reviewee to better accomplish said goal? 

I'm reminded of what Paul cautions us in Ephesians 4:26, "Do not let the sun go down on your anger." This carries over to how we should lead our teams by doing our best to communicate transparently and address conflict on a regular basis.

What would happen if the church pushed a culture of regular, constructive criticism? What is your process for conducting staff reviews?

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