April 19, 2016

The Adaptive Challenge

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Many pastoral leaders are overwhelmed by operational leadership challenges – day to day activities to keep the “ship afloat.” Submitting to the tyranny of the urgent is a common malady. As a colleague/coach/consultant of pastors, I hear this complaint more often than any other. Therefore, when I suggest that at least twenty percent of the pastoral leader’s time should be devoted to adaptive leadership, many pastors think that I have lost my grasp of reality. By “adaptive leadership,” I mean thinking about the “big picture,” establishing clear mission/vision/values for the congregation, facing the facts of what is not working, creating a cohesive leadership team, taking risks and the like.

Since I believe that all congregations have only two options – slow death or deep change – all congregational leaders will need to lead change in the life of the Body. This requires attention to adaptive leadership. I believe the health and vitality of the congregation depends on the willingness of the leaders to devote at least twenty percent of their time to adaptive challenges.

Recently, a pastor whom I coach, and who has struggled with operational overload for many years, said to me, “Beyond acute pastoral care, I now spend nearly all of my time on preaching (including preparation) and investing in leaders.” May his tribe increase! What a monumental shift he has made over several years and is a more effective leader as a result.

Are you willing to accept the adaptive leadership challenge? If so, what is an action step that would help you move in that direction?

I am certain that you will need to create a “stop doing” list and then take some action with regard to it. I am also certain that you will trust God more, as you take these risks for the sake of more fruitful ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.

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