Who do you like to learn leadership from? Perhaps the best people to learn from are those special leaders who can lead leaders.
It was my privilege to sit down with just such a person at the Orange leaders conference. Carey Nieuwhof is a leader in the Orange organization, which attracts some of the best minds anywhere. He also leads a highly successful church in the Toronto area. He is an outstanding speaker, connector, doer and visionary. Nieuwhof is a leader of leaders . . . and I asked him for his most practical leadership advice.
HOW TO MANAGE TIME
Deciding what you are not going to do is as important as deciding what you are going to do. The genius is in knowing what you are skilled and gifted at. Only say “yes” to those things you do well. Say “no” to everything else, especially those things at which you aren’t very good. Become excellent at saying “no” graciously. Your spouse and your assistant can help you in saying “no”. They may be able to decline some opportunities for you. Eliminate 90% of the opportunities that come your way so that you can focus on the 10% of opportunities for which you are gifted.
HOW TO STAY PRODUCTIVE AND ENERGETIC
Being a morning person helps. Get up early for your quiet time, writing and social media posts. Have them done by 8am.
Have a good assistant.
Be very careful what you say “yes” to and focus on what you are good at (as noted above).
Productivity varies with life stage. A driven person in a life stage where there are no kids at home may have one capacity level. A leader in a life stage where there are heavy family demands may have a different capacity, in that specific season. It’s good to be aware of your personal life circumstance and adjust your priorities/expectations/time accordingly.
Cultivate your heart. Your interior journey determines your external journey. Guard your heart with great friendships. Gather wise people around you. Maintain good relationships with Jesus and your spouse. Get enough sleep. Do the things that energize you.
Nieuwhof does not regularly watch TV or play golf. He enjoys cycling and uses the time cycling to think and create outlines for his writing.
A note for senior pastors. Pastors are expected to create sermons and give their church vision. In essence, pastors create “something out of nothing.” This means setting aside meaningful time to think and create message series/church vision. Nieuwhof limits doing church business functions to a maximum of three days each week in order to preserve enough margin to create.
WHAT DO YOU KNOW NOW THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN AS A LEADER IN YOUR 20s?
It is character, not competency, that determines your capacity. As you grow your character you grow your capacity as a leader. It’s relatively easy to develop your skill set, especially in the areas in which you are gifted. However, character issues such as humility and submission were the things Nieuwhof wrestled with as a younger leader.
Having a mentor is important throughout life, but it’s especially valuable in your 20s.
Learning to work with a team is critical. A team can bring out the best in you and in others. Learn this skill as early as you can.
LEADERS LEARN FROM BLOGGING
Nieuwhof writes one of the most helpful and practical leadership blogs on the internet (CareyNieuwhof.com).
Writing blog posts help leaders process thoughts. You can become a better thinker by writing.
A blog teaches you what resonates and connects with people. If you write a book you will wait a year for feedback. A blog post allows you to receive immediate feedback. It can be surprising what ideas resonate and get shared. . . and which ones don’t.
Social media allows you to float trial balloons. Nieuwhof notices when one of his tweets gets a lot of response. He will build that idea into a blog post or a sermon.
TOP BOOKS FOR CHURCH LEADERS
Zombies, Football and the Gospel by Reggie Joiner
Deep and Wide by Andy Stanley
The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni
Love Works by Joel Manby
THE GREATEST OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FOR THE CHURCH
The greatest challenge the church faces is creeping irrelevance. We are more irrelevant than we think we are. This is a major blind spot for the church. The best place to see this is in the Millennial Generation.
There is a lack of next generation leaders. Where are the 20-something leaders? We have not seen enough emerge. We need to ensure there are enough young leaders to fill the leadership tank.
There is too much of a divide between business and the church. 100 years ago the best and brightest went into ministry. Now they go into business or elsewhere. This is creating a brain drain for the church.
People and families are looking for answers. However they don’t think the church can help.
The church has a great opportunity to reach people. There has never been more unchurched people. The fields are ready for the harvest.
The church also can leverage billions of dollars in under-used real estate (church buildings).
LEARN BY FOLLOWING NIEUWHOF
Nieuwhof is generous when it comes to sharing his leadership experience and wisdom.