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  • Writer's picturesonnyholmes

5 leadership do overs

Even the briefest glance in the rear-view mirror is uncomfortable for me. By nature I tend to lean forward, so looking back is instinctively tough. If I needed a second excuse, it's even more basic and totally self-absorbed: when I look back, even for a moment, the slightest glance, I see so many things that I would do over. They weren't necessarily mistakes and didn't always affect mission or injure people. They're just missed turns or moments of delay or even slight detours that slowed progress or altered direction for even the briefest time. Of them all the leadership do overs seem to be most critical. Would I do them over? In a flash.

But, we all know, you can't go back there and you can't let that glance back become an anchor. So, what to do? Perhaps the most constructive, forward-thinking kingdom-minded move is to pass them on. As a leader, what would I do over if I could?

1. Pray more. Maybe it's just the mellowing of age, but Paul's instruction to "pray

without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17) seems so much more consuming and

critical than when I was working twelve hour days. It's not that I didn't pray, but

that my prayer life was often perfunctory and not the bedrock of our mission. OK,

we don't need a dissertation on prayer right here. But, I do believe something

special happens in us when we pray, and that the leaders prayer life is central to

the organization. Is there a recommend time or number of prayers? No. Just


2. Implement elder leadership. Ten years ago I was convicted that the biblical

model of church leadership involves a multiplicity of elders. Scripture is very clear

about the appointment or selection of elders and requirements for those serving

as church elders. More and more I am convinced that much of the drift in

main-line churches is because authority and leadership are obscure in most

churches. Without going into details, I would study elder leadership at the earliest

possible time and lead the church in including elder leadership in the governing

documents and leadership of the church.

3. Require submission to the church covenant. In 2008 our church

overwhelmingly voted for a new church covenant. It reflected the particular

vision and lifestyle issues reflected by the church family. In 2012, the church

family overwhelmingly voted to require annual submission to the church

covenant, in writing. It was my opinion then, and is my deep conviction now,

that there will be greater government control over the church in years to come

and a greater need for church membership to matter. Looking back, I would

have tackled this issue long before we did. It is a return to historic Baptist roots

and will be a defining issue for the church in years to come.

4. Study and implement a pastoral succession plan. With seventeen hundred

pastors leaving ministry every month, more than one hundred of them numbered

among Southern Baptists, and so many of our churches struggling, our traditional

systems of calling pastors and church staff seem inadequate for the times. Many

congregations are being blessed in a pastor succession process that insures

preparation for the task, smooth transition when changes occur, and consistency

in vision for long term mission. There are many succession models and I should

have appointed a study team years ago to begin that process.

5. Be more intentional mentoring spiritual leaders. You know the multiple hats

of a church pastor or staff member pull us in many directions. But, if I could go

back there in the distance, in each of my four pastorates, I would be more

intentional in mentoring spiritual leaders. I'm convinced it is biblically mandated

and a critical need of the times.

Which is all to say these are five leadership do overs I'm recommending to you. If you are a pastor, church staff member, elder, deacon, church member, encourage those in your church leadership to make note of these five things one of your geezer friends has acknowledged as do over material. Then press them to include them in the ministry plan of your church right now. Without delay.

As a result, they won't be on your leaders do over list too.

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