In the 40 days leading up to Easter, many believers observe a season known as Lent. Lent is usually marked by abstinence or fasting from something that will allow us to disconnect from our usual lifestyle and reconnect with God.
It has often been said that it takes 40 days to change a habit, so perhaps this Lent, we can look at shedding some of the habits that stand in the way of being the leader that God intends for us to be. Here are some things that you can prayerfully consider giving up:
- Leaders Should Give Up Insisting on their Entitlement
As leaders, it is easy to feel like we are entitled to deference, respect or obedience by virtue of our leadership positions, and it is very easy to get very comfortable with that over time. During Lent, focus on serving your team rather than them serving you. Provide them with information, tools, training and support. Praise them publicly when they have done well. These few things will make your team respect you more than if you just demanded their deference because of your position.
- Leaders Should Give Up Being Selfish
Look for ways to bless your team this season instead of just keeping track of how well they are serving in your ministry. We sometimes get so caught up in the results that we produce through people, that we can also selfishly forget to take care of the people themselves. Meet your team often for a huddle, or one on one coffee, and make sure you are the one buying! Make sure you know what their struggles are and that you are praying for them regularly.
- Leaders Should Give Up Their Talent
One of our key objectives for this year is to release what we have to serve the world. Share your giftedness with the world rather than reserving it just for your family or workplace. Many of us have professional, organisational, hospitality and other talents that tend not to show up with our teams and groups. Try it out, see how this generosity will make you even more valuable.
- Leaders Should Give Up Being The Sole Decision Maker
We sometimes condition people, even when they are competent and clear about what should come next, to look to us as the final arbiter of what gets done. Allow your team to add to your thoughts. Trust us, their thoughts will make your thinking better. Granted, there are some decisions of importance for which our authority and wisdom are critical, but it’s easy to slip into a mode in which EVERY decision about EVERYTHING requires our sign-off. A team where everyone knows that they are trusted to make certain decisions is a much stronger team.
- Leaders Should Give Up Being Angry
Do not lead by fear. Negative comments and focusing on what went wrong instead of what went right makes our teams fearful to try new things, and you will lose the innovation and creativity that your team members could bring. Allow your team the freedom to make mistakes. This newfound freedom will take your team’s creativity to new heights. Try this next time you are going to react in anger or disapproval – acknowledge the error, use it as an opportunity to equip the whole team with a solution and remember to encourage the team to keep trying new things!
- Leaders Should Give Up Their Time
Give your time to your team. Don’t be afraid to “waste” time having fun together, take time to teach them small ways they can serve better, take time to appreciate people and the things they have done. It doesn’t always have to be a face to face meet up. Sending a text or commenting on a social media post doesn’t take up a lot of time but can mean the world to someone. Don’t only check in or schedule time when something is wrong, also take time to celebrate when everything is going well.
- Leaders Should Give Up Bad Habits
Are you often late for a meeting you called? Or do you often interrupt people when they are talking? Or perhaps you like to do everything yourself instead of delegating the work? These habits can slowly erode your influence and make you seem like an ineffective leader. It’s all too easy for a leader to unknowingly slip into these minor bad habits that can hinder your ability to lead well. Some of these habits may have short-term effects, like just the annoyance of your team, but keeping them up over the long term can decrease your influence as a leader and disrupt good working relationships with the people around you. One way to check if you have any bad habits is to simply ask your team for their honest feedback and make sure you act on it instead of getting defensive.
- Leaders Should Give Up Gossiping
The temptation to go to one of your team members or to another leader and talk about someone else can get really strong – we have all been there. We sometimes disguise it with words like “sharing” and “concern”, but we all know what it is. It is gossip, and it’s definitely something that we should give up. Proverbs 19:22 (MSG) says, “When a leader listens to malicious gossip, all the workers get infected with evil.” Gossip doesn’t just undermine your worth as a leader, but can leave your teams wondering how safe they really are with you, and can build distrust. If you must tell someone, take it to the Lord in private prayer and He will listen. But otherwise, let gossip be something we leave on this side of Lent this year.
- Leaders Should Give Up Making Jokes at the Expense of Others
This is often a subtle (maybe even passive aggressive) manner of making a negative comment about someone, couching it as a joke while making a scathing reproof. For instance, if the production team makes a mistake, don’t call them out with a joke (like “Oh, well, I guess the projectionist is watching TikTok during the service again” or something like that). It’s an understandable impulse, because it’s embarrassing if you are on stage and you are caught out uncomfortably because of someone else’s mistake, but we should never throw our team members under the bus. Our pastors and elders at FGA have a gracious way of using these moments when technical mistakes happen to get the congregation to applaud the 99% of the time when the team does an excellent job behind the scenes. This is great leadership.
- Leaders Should Give Up Deferring To Favourites
We all have them – people whom we really like, whose opinions we really value. They are the ones we turn to over and over. Too much of this can create a closed circle of “who’s in” and an alienating sense of “who’s out” that weakens ministry. It weakens the cohesiveness and shared purpose of the team, and it narrows the variety of ideas and perspectives that are allowed into a decision or a process. Therefore, during Lent, try actively demoting your favourites for a bit, and share with them that you are going to encourage and champion other members of the team.