I believe leaders need to be clear as to what they are all about. They need clarity as to what they should be primarily focused on. There are too many distractions that pull leaders off mission doing what they should not be spending time and energy on. Justin Anderson (Director of church planing for Acts 29) gives us some helpful and provocative  thoughts on this issue.

Guest post by Justin Anderson-team@contextstaffing.com

I spend a lot of time with pastors and ministry leaders. I coach, consult and help lead a ministry to church planters. The time I spend with those leaders is both invigorating and mind-numbingly repetitive. Let me explain.

I love leaders and leadership. I believe in the inherent power of good leadership to bring about real change and true transformation. If anything, I probably credit and blame leaders too much. In my opinion, the success or failure of every organization or group of people hinges almost completely on leadership.

And as much as people want to talk about a plurality of leadership and the need for leadership teams (which I agree with), you cannot get away from the reality that there has to be a leader who is leading that team.

Every failed church is a failure of leadership. Every cratering organization is a failure of leadership. Every movement that loses steam or drifts from its mission is a failure of leadership.

That may sound harsh, but I believe it to my core. Let me be clear, we all fail in our leadership, sometimes daily. No one is immune. Every leader has failed at times to properly prioritize, communicate clearly, or choose the people around themselves wisely. So if you have led an organization that has endured serious struggles or even failure, take heart, you are not alone.

One consistent mistake I see point leaders make is that they lose sight of their primary roles in the organization. They get distracted and take their eyes off the job that only they can do. Some leaders are micromanagers and get distracted by details they have no business attending to. Some leaders are constant ideators and get distracted by new initiatives and novel ideas. Others are hyper-relational and get distracted by people management.

Details, new initiatives, and people management are not the job of the point leader in any organization.

Of course, leaders have to attend to details and think of new visionary ideas and manage people. It’s not that the role requires none of those things.

But, the job of the point leader should not primarily be made up of that kind of work. Every point leader has the same three priorities.

  1. Guard the Vision

  2. Lead the leadership team

  3. Communicate the values

Those three things – in no particular order – are the most important things a point leader can do and those three things should make up 80% of the time and energy they spend.

In a Church, this means that the Lead Pastor has to make sure that everyone is crystal clear about why the church exists. This goes beyond the biblical call to make disciples, it includes whatever visionary elements make the church uniquely equipped to reach their city.

It means that the pastor should have 3-4 direct reports at a maximum. I know many of you don’t even have that many staff people total, so you have to use your imagination a little bit. The Lead Pastor has to invest his time in the major stakeholders and leaders of the church, who may be staff members or lay people.

Lastly, it means the Pastor should be the primary communicator. I know there are examples of great churches led by phenomenal leaders who aren’t the primary communicators. Those are the exceptions, not the rule. Keeping everyone on the same page when it comes to the values of the organization is so critically important, it has to be done by the point leader.

Most, if not all, of the leadership failures I see happen in churches, nonprofits, and businesses because the point leader took his or her eye off one or more of these primary tasks. Some of you need to redo your schedule to better reflect these priorities. I’m convinced there is nothing more important that you could do.