Friday, June 23, 2017

Pass the Ball

Diana is a great leader who has a growing team at our church!

If you are a leader in some way, in your church, at work, in your neighborhood, good for you! I’m proud of you.  Leadership is hard! Easy to read a blog or book about it.  But when you try to accomplish a project THROUGH PEOPLE, it feels almost impossible!

So when the pressure is on to make something happen, as leaders, we tend to bear down and work hard.  Great people are willing to exert energy and invest their time to make the dream become a reality.  We know that as the leader, we are supposed to get out in front and lead.  That’s what leaders do.  They take charge.

So when we are feeling the pressure to perform, to create momentum and make something happen, our tendency is to get on stage and grab the microphone.  We start “preaching.” We sell.  We make our appeal.  After all, this is the image we know of great leaders.  The leader is the person up on a platform giving a rousing speech.  The locker room talk, the stump speech.  Inspire the troops!

Now...I love a great speech.  I love to hear great leaders and communicators inspire their team.  After a good speech, I am ready to charge the hill!

But here is what I am learning in my season of leading as a Pastor.  Sometimes the right move is to give the speech.  But sometimes the right move is to:

Pass the Ball

OK - basketball analogy coming.  I love the game of basketball.  I love watching great players do amazing things.  A slam dunk, an impossible shot.  But the most exciting thing to watch is a team win.  And how do teams win? By passing the ball.  The team that wins championships know they have to win consistently.  In order to win consistently, they cannot rely on one or two great players to make great plays.  That is not sustainable.  Great teams understand they must involve ALL of their players in the game.  They pass the ball.  

Pastor DJ showing our church family his beautiful new baby, Callie Ray!
I play basketball with some guys once a week, some of them leaders in my church.  One of those leaders is my friend and a Pastor, DJ Cabrera.  DJ is a great basketball player, having played at Martin County High School as a Point Guard years ago.  DJ has a great strategic mind, and it shows not just in his work at the church, but also on the court.  When I am playing on his team, and we are passing the ball, he sometimes shouts “one more pass!” What he is coaching us to do is to not settle for an average shot, but to keep passing the ball until one of us on the team gets an optimal shot.  He is trying to get us to play as a team, not just as a few individuals.  When we pass the ball to the open man and he makes the shot, we cheer! It’s awesome.  (DJ makes fun of me because I shout really loud with excitement - I can’t help it, I get excited!)

I have been attempting to apply this philosophy to my style of leadership.  As a Pastor at Christ Fellowship in South Florida, I have a lot I am responsible for -  a lot of people I care for.  How I endeavor to lead all that I am responsible for is through other leaders, other voices.  I realize that I need older voices, younger voices, female voices, different voices other than mine who are speaking the vision, giving the direction.  This doesn’t mean I abdicate my leadership, or that I cease from speaking vision.  Rather, I share the platform with others.  

I build a platform that others can stand on

Luiz and Jen are new to our church and have immediately started serving, helping others find their place - awesome people!

I have learned that leadership is not best played like golf, where you are a solo act.  Leadership is best played like a basketball game, as a team endeavor.  In basketball, you don’t win unless the team wins.  The leader doesn’t achieve success unless he or she can empower his or her teammates to be effective in their roles.

Here are some practical ways I attempt to pass the ball to our team at our church:

Lead without the microphone
I am challenging myself to find other avenues to earn influence with people so they will follow my lead.  While the platform is a powerful and visible place to speak directly to people, I am learning the power of serving with my teams off platform.  Recently, I have been serving with our Traffic Team by parking cars and welcoming people in to our church services.  

That's me!
This has been one of the BEST things I have EVER DONE as a leader.  People love seeing their Pastor out serving with the team.  I have enjoyed actually DOING ministry, not just LEADING ministry.  It has been good for my heart to serve in this way.  And, I get to spend lots of time interacting with our people - something that fills me up.  I caught this idea from my friend and fellow Campus Pastor, Travis O’Neal who often serves with his teams at the Port Saint Lucie Campus.  I highly recommend you get down from the platform and serve WITH your team!

Share the microphone
Many times, we are afraid that if we share our platform with someone, they will mess it up.  Or, even more scary, they might outshine us because they are more gifted at communication! It takes a very secure and big-minded leader to be willing to allow trusted leaders to share the platform with them.  
Jake is a great Worship Leader and a "Go-To" Team Player in our church
When you take a chance and share part of the platform with gifted and committed people,
it actually elevates your influence.  Here’s why: when others share your vision, it is an indication that you have effectively instilled your vision in them! Remember, the greatest communication does not come from your mouth; it is revealed by how well it is repeated by those around you.  

Hold the microphone for others
Secure Leaders are willing to share their microphone with other gifted Leaders.  Seasoned Leaders will go a step further by identifying potential leaders and helping them develop.  Many leaders can spot a gifted person quickly.  Most people struggle with seeing the potential in a person who is undeveloped or untested.  But because there is always such a great demand for gifted, committed, courageous people, we must look beyond the obvious choice to the risky choice.  As leaders of people, it is our job to help others develop their gifts and realize their dreams.  This means we have to adopt a process mentality with our people, realizing that they are going to need YEARS of development, not just WEEKS.

Many people comment about my beautiful daughter, Madison Pilot, how gifted she is in music and in ministry.  Now that she is seventeen years old, many leaders are seeking after her to sing or to lead.  My wife, Kellie and I love it.  We love seeing her getting many opportunities to use her gifts.  People will ask me “how did she get so good?” I tell them that it took 12 years of teaching her piano and singing.  12 Years of instilling in her healthy habits, learning life values, skills in learning to interact with people well.  What you see Madison doing now is a product of daily, weekly and monthly training, nurturing and challenging.  She did not develop just magically.  There is no secret formula or 30 day training that helped her.  She worked hard, she stayed committed to training and growing.  She paid the price and still pays the price today to develop.
(I am SO PROUD of her.  Can you tell?)

Pastor Ismael has more people serving on his team because he cares for people well!
There are people on your team that, if you evaluate them now, may not show signs of greatness or giftedness.  Let me challenge you: IT’S THERE - YOU JUST HAVE TO DRAW IT OUT OF THEM.  Like a hidden treasure deep within the earth, you must take the time to dig it out and help develop it.  This is like holding the microphone for them as they learn to develop their skill.  Whether it’s organizational, gift of hospitality, strategic gifts, public speaking, motivating people and recruiting, writing, the gift to start or build a business, etc.  Look for the hidden treasure in your people.  Begin to dig - keep digging - encourage, affirm.  Help them see a bigger vision for their life.  Show them what COULD BE and begin to give them small opportunities to develop their gift.  And when they step up to your challenge, hold the microphone for them until they can hold it for themselves.

Here's Asher walking next to his father, John.  Asher makes everyone around him feel valued and included

Pass the ball to others on your team.  Lead through others.  It’s harder, it’s riskier.  But, slowly, your people will begin to win championships.

When your team wins, you win!