Thoughts on Leadership

Posted by Jerry Roth on

This week I participated in a lunch-time webinar on leadership by John Maxwell’s organization. Maxwell may be the most prolific writer on leadership theory in history. I like his work because it is well written and presents simple, applicable strategies for being an effective leader in any organization. It is certainly applicable to church leadership.

Here are a few of the gems from this webinar:

  • People don’t care how much their leaders know until they know how much their leaders care. People want to feel that you value them. Through sincere feedback and praise, leaders need to share why their followers are special.
  • Organizations exist to make people’s strength effective and their weaknesses irrelevant. (Frances Hesselbein)
  • One of the greatest gifts you can give as a leader is attention. In meetings, be proactive about listening more than speaking. Seek out the thoughts, opinions and feelings of others.
  • To reach your potential, follow your passion. Leaders help others identify their giftedness and turn that into a meaningful purpose in life.


A teacher and author I have followed for many years is Lovett Weems. He has written extensively on leadership in the church. If you are looking for a good read on this topic, I would recommend his book, Church Leadership (revised edition), Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2010. His belief is that “Leadership becomes a channel of God’s grace as we help God’s people discern to what God is calling them and help them take that next faithful step.”

Another classic I would recommend is Max DePree’s Leadership Is An Art, Random House, New York, 2004. It is filled with wisdom for all organizations, including church leaders. Listen to these moving words, “What is it most of us really want from work? … We would like a work process and relationships that meet our personal needs for belonging, for contributing, for meaningful work, for the opportunity to make a commitment, for the opportunity to grow and be at least reasonably in control of our own destinies. Finally, we’d like someone to say ‘Thank you!’”. Amen

For consistent quality articles and information on church leadership, I highly recommend Leading Ideas , from the Lewis Center for Church Leadership. As noted on the site, “Delivered every Wednesday, our free e-newsletter Leading Ideas offers articles by thoughtful, cutting-edge leaders on subjects you care about — navigating change, reaching younger people, financing your ministry, communicating effectively — to help you be the leader God is calling you to be.”

Finally, if you are looking for a current website and e-zine on effective organizational management, I have been impressed with Kellogg Insight , a free e-zine from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. It is filled with interesting and relevant articles for all organizations and can easily be translated to fit the church organizational environment.

Maxwell believes that everything rises and falls on leadership. As church leaders, we need to take this challenge seriously. I encourage you to take advantage of the above resources, and others, as you seek to become the leader that God is calling you to be.

The Center for Parish Leadership can provide relevant consulting and training for your staff and leaders that is reflective of best practice church leadership knowledge and skills. Please contact us to explore how we can support you on this journey.


Jerry Roth

Research Analyst

The Center for Parish Leadership


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