Recently I heard Andy Stanley say,
Great leaders absorb. Mediocre leaders defend.
Learning this simple leadership principle will yield stunning results for any leader that commits to it. Absorbing criticism without being defensive seldom comes naturally for a leader. But learning to absorb rather than to defend is one of the marks of mature leadership. A mature leader listens and reflects. A novice leader argues and defends.
Why Absorb Rather than Defend?
1. There May Be Some Level of Truth in Criticism
Church Small Groups are notoriously difficult to do well. Small groups have various names – growth groups, city groups, d-groups, missional communities, gospel communities, etc. As church leaders, we continuously work to get people connected to small groups, train leaders well, and create successful small group environments. But church small groups are often mediocre at best. One of the primary reasons that church small groups do not thrive is our failure to put in place well trained and cared for leadership. Successful church small groups will not happen with mediocre leadership. Here are three components for effectiveness small group leadership:
1. Basic Training
If you lead a staff, one of the most valuable things you can do is to have each person on your team create an annual plan. An annual plan is foundational for everything else that your staff team will do over the next year. In fact, drop everything else that you are doing with your staff team and do this. This planning process is designed for those who lead a major ministry area such as children’s, groups, worship ministries, youth ministries, connect, etc. October is prime time to begin this because your staff can roll into 2016 knowing exactly where they are headed.
People love to talk about themselves. For many of us, “Me” is our favorite topic of discussion. We love to talk about our experiences, share what we know, and give other people advice. I often wonder if we realize that nobody is listening. Our words are falling on deaf ears. There is another way to interact with people that will build deep and lasting relationships.
Here are three practices for making a real impact on the lives of other people:
1. Stop Talking About Yourself and Your Interests
Someone on your team needs to go. Perhaps you hired him simply because he was there. Maybe you hired her early on but time has shown that she is not a good fit. Perhaps he doesn’t even want to be on your team but is not sure what else to do with his life. Perhaps he has consistently shown that he cannot do the job well. What has become clear is that he is not a good fit for the team. Most organizations (and churches) are carrying a person like this on the team. What should you do? How can you know if there is a person on your team that fits this description? Is it unkind to release a person because she is not a good fit for the team? What if it hurts your church or the person?