Are You A Patient Leader?

file9881272702167Leadership is a funny animal.  So much has been written about how to lead well, aspects of leadership, traits of leadership, how to grow as a leader, and more.  The goal of this blog is to contribute to this enormous corpus of material, but from the perspective of a local church pastor.  And patience is a non-negotiable for leaders, especially in the local church.

(Incidentally, I’ve been on a blogging hiatus for about a month as we prepare for our annual members meeting at Southview.  From October to mid-November is undoubtedly the busiest season of my year from an administrative perspective, and it’s good to be writing again!)

Patience is a virtue.  I think most everyone would agree with that. But for leaders, I believe it’s a non-negotiable, and I struggle with it as much as anything else.

By nature, leaders are always thinking ahead. They see what could be, the potential and the promise of the future, and they want to see that happen!  They work hard, cast vision, and lay framework for that preferred picture of the future to happen.  Sometimes, things seem to move quickly, but my experience has been that in the local church, that is not usually the case.  And slow movement means patience is required.

Have you ever seen a leader throw a tantrum because of the slow movement forward?  Yeah, I’m ashamed to admit I’ve been that guy on more than one occasion.  That’s terrible, isn’t it!  And yet I find that many leaders could identify.  Patience doesn’t come easy when you know what could be, how the mission and vision could advance, but it seems to be taking forever!

I had the opportunity this week to speak with someone from another church not too far from here.  They’re considering changing their governance structure from a congregational governance model to an elder governance model, and she wanted to gather some information about the process we went through when we made that change.  I so thoroughly enjoyed reminiscing about the lessons we learned, what we would and would not do again, and how we’ve seen that change benefit the church over the last 7 years.  And in sharing some of our story, I got the opportunity to see with some fresh eyes what God has done at Southview over the last 10 years.

Change never happens fast enough for a leader, but it’s incredibly valuable to look back and see what has happened.  I think of SO many conversations, so many baptisms, so many times when people understood God’s gift of love and accepted Christ, so many prayers, so many smiles.  And I am blown away in a fresh way at how much has truly changed, not just at Southview, but in me too.  And it all required patience.

True, lasting, great change doesn’t happen in a microwave – it happens in a crock pot.  And leaders have to not only be ok with that and develop patience themselves, but lead others to be patient as well.

Do you find that patience comes easy for you as a leader?  How are you intentionally working to make that a keystone of your leadership practice?