4 Essential Characteristics Of Church Leaders


Here at Vanderbloemen Search Group, we are constantly challenged in one of our team's core values, “Stewardship of Life.” This staff value has had a huge impact on me - I even chose the word “healthy” as my theme for the year. One area that I would like to become healthier in is in my personal leadership.

I was recently researching what makes a great church leader and came across several insightful and challenging reminders on leading people well. Here are some things I will be working on to help me be a healthier leader. These attributes are essential to leading a church and church staff well.

1. Integrity  

In his book, What People Want, author Terry Bacon says, “90 percent of workers rank honesty, fairness, and trust as their top three needs.” Above all else, I believe people want leaders and pastors who keep their word and who are trustworthy. Think about your leadership: Have you been honest even in the little things? Have you told someone you would do something and you haven’t done it yet? It may be a little thing to you, but it is probably a big thing to your team. It is never too late to keep your word.  

Matthew 5:37 says, “Just say a simple, ‘Yes, I will,’ or ‘No, I won’t.'”

2. Appreciation

Your Church staff wants to know that what they do is being valued and appreciated. Tweet: Your staff wants to know that what they do is being valued and appreciated. https://bit.ly/1X5FKt9 via @VanderbloemenSG

A statement that I like to say and use in my leadership is, "What you value is what you praise!" As a church leader, you may say that you are valuing a particular person or area, but if you do not give praise to it, then it is not truly something you value. In your next few staff meetings, focus on what you naturally praise, and then you can gain a better sense of what you truly value. The amazing thing about praise is that it costs leaders nothing to execute but the returns are priceless.

Take the time to give value and appreciation to your church staff. Here are some simple ways to appreciate your team:  a simple word of thanks, a note, a phone call, a text message, or even a raise. At one of the churches where I served, we had what we called the “U-ROCK!” Award. Once a month, we’d give out a “U-ROCK!” award to someone who’d gone above and beyond the call of duty. This is just a simple way to recognize and appreciate your team.  

Colossians 3:15 says,“And always be thankful.”

3. Investment

No, I am not talking about money. I am talking about YOU investing in your team’s personal growth. Think about how are you investing your time and energy into making your team members successful. How are you growing their leadership? Jenny Floren, founder of Experience Inc., states that “18 to 30-year-olds are characterized by their desire to receive training, take on new challenges, expand their capabilities, and as a result, advance to new, more highly-compensated roles.” Ask yourself as a team leader, “Am I providing training opportunities to my team? Do I provide opportunities for growth? Am I, as their team leader, investing in their personal growth?" If you do not invest in their leadership growth, your team will eventually become stagnant and lose their effectiveness to lead in fresh and new ways. Here are some simple ways to invest in leadership growth: 

  • Have a “Blog Tour”
    • Take two weeks and challenge your team to read some new leadership blogs. At the end of the two weeks, have a “Blog Tour” Party. At the party, have your team share what new and creative ideas they learned from the new blogs that they have followed for the past two weeks. This can be fun but also very rewarding! Here are a few leadership blogs that I can recommend: Jud Wilhite, Jenni Catron, Pete Wilson, Dan Cathy, Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, and John Maxwell, and of course, our own blog.
  • Take a field trip.
    • Here is an article that will let you know the value of taking your team on a field trip to learn some new and creative ideas. 
    • If your budget allows, send your team to a conference. This will grow your team not only in their leadership, but it will also help your team grow in their relationships. If you are on the West Coast, check out Exponential West, where our team will be headed this year.
    • Schedule a yearly or quarterly leadership retreat. This can be done at someone’s home or a friend’s beach condo or mountain retreat. During the retreat, find a book or some leadership training DVDs for you and your team to study. Don’t make it all about the study; enjoy the time with your team by planning some activities and just having fun!

4. Care

“People don’t leave their personal lives at the door when they come to work,” says Lyn Freundlich, head of Human Resources at Third Sector New England.  

Yes, you should care about the personal ups and downs of your church staff members' lives, and yes, it does take time on your part; but again, it will bring huge dividends if you truly take time to care for your team members.  

Have a monthly one-on-one lunch or coffee break with each of your team members. Of course, if your team members are 10+, you may have to stretch it out to 1x a quarter or even a year, but it would mean so much if a leader sat down with team member and spent time building a relationship and actually knowing what is going on in their personal life.  

Leaders should never be too busy to care for their team. Tweet: Leaders should never be too busy to care for their team. http://bit.ly/1X5FKt9 via @VanderbloemenSG

Remember, the basis for all of this is found in Colossians 3:23,“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.”

How can you begin to better lead your team?

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