Clarity and then Cleverness
The work of leadership is relationally complicated. However, that does not mean it must be systemically complex. In many instances, people have become distracted and the work of the leader is simple: Bring about focus. One of the fastest way to do that is by choosing clarity over cleverness.
Within our circles of church leadership, I’m convinced that too many leaders out-clever their own hopes for renewal. In a bid to be the most insightful person in the room, pastors are tempted to use complicated strategies and painfully nuanced language that sounds good but is hard for the laity to follow. We need to remember that struggling congregations are not filled with dull people but distracted people. Use cleverness where necessary but lead with clarity. Here are four ideas to help you.
Reminding. Much of our work in leading toward the future is reminding believers about what God has done in the past. It is a major emphasis throughout the Scriptures. Knowing how God has worked in the past sets up people to look for how He is working in the present. As you talk about strategy or doctrine, be a reminder of God’s faithfulness to His people.
Restating. Because pastors are communicators, we carry words around with us all the time. Knowing that the church members do not is not shocking but important to keep in mind. What is obvious to you about the past, present, and future of the church is unseen by them. Why? Because you are working in it and on it throughout all of your days. For many members, they visit these ideas, at best, once a week. You will need to state and restate the obvious points of ministry and mission to them to the point of feeling redundantly redundant.
Removing. If you drive on a road long enough, you naturally avoid the potholes and ruts in a road. You do so by habit and weave around them. In general, congregants do the same. They have lived with ministry obstacles for so long that it’s just part of the process. Clarity has the potential to remove the self-imposed obstacles. You cannot remove societal pressure or the personal cost associated with ministry, but you can help people walk away from poor behaviors and unnecessary burdens.
Reframing. Cleverness is not bad. In fact, you need to be clever in word choice, images designed, and all other points of the strategy. But when reframing mindsets, clarity cuts through old frameworks. Church members are living in the frameworks they have been given. Some are good and some are rotten. Find the balance of candor and creativity in deconstructing and reconstructing new systems. Guide people with the truth about how they are pursuing God’s mission. Reframe with truth and grace.
Leader: Self-awareness plays a key role. If you act like a hammer then everything will look like a nail. If you act like a poet then you’ll try to solve everything will a limerick. Use all that the Lord has given you for the good of His people.