Essential Leadership Lessons (Part 1)

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Bryan Mowrey is the Lead Pastor of Jubilee Church in Saint Louis, Missouri — a position he has held, by God’s grace, for just over a decade. Here are some of the biggest leadership lessons he has learned along the way.

1. God’s power to save people is undeniable. 

In college, God came to me in a supernatural way and his power changed my life. At the time, I thought I was unique. I thought that church and following Jesus was something that people decided one day that they wanted to do. I didn’t realize that God comes in power to people all the time. The greatest joy in ministry over the past ten years is baptizing hundreds of people because God broke into their life in powerful ways.

2. God’s power to change people is undeniable. 

Those who are parents know about the joy of watching children grow and develop. One day they couldn’t walk and now they can. One day they couldn’t talk, and now they talk back. They grow taller, stronger, and smarter. A close second to the joy of watching God save people is watching God change people. I love the people at my church and like a proud pop, I love watching them grow by the power of God.

3. It’s easy to become a professional. 

After a while, it becomes pretty easy to know what to say, when to say it and how to say it separate from any inspiration from God.  I am so thankful for the leadership wineskin that has been handed down to me through John Lanferman and other Newfrontiers leaders. A wineskin that says leaders are to be amongst the people and not separate; one that works in team and not isolation; and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s one of the reasons why we don’t have parking spots and insist that we be addressed as “pastor ________”. Those practices are not inherently evil, but they do seem to affirm that somehow I am different or special. We are the same. I’m just the loud mouth one with a grace to lead.

4. We have all the money and the time to do what God wants us to do, but we don’t always have the desire. 

I used to think that what held the church or an individual Christian back was a lack of resources — that if we just had more money, or if we just had more time, then we would really steam forward as individuals, and collectively as a church. I am realizing, however, that it’s not true. One of the areas of faith that God has developed in me over these past 10 years is the conviction that he has given us everything we need to do what he’s asked us to do (2 Cor 9:8, 2 Peter 1:3). It’s not that we lack the resources (time, money, etc), it’s that we lack the desire. Therefore, now my leadership focus isn’t on acquiring resource or helping people “find the time,” but it’s playing my part to help cultivate the desire.

5. Having my weaknesses on display can be embarrassing but hiding them is exhausting and off-putting.

The natural, human instinct is to protect and hide weaknesses, and I am no different. Early on as a pastor, my goal was to hide my weaknesses so that people would think that I had none (or at least no glaring ones). My belief was that people don’t want to follow a leader with flaws. But over time, I came to realize that hiding my weaknesses created a wall with people and not the bridge that I hoped it would. I’m already a bit introverted, but never being vulnerable made me even less approachable. And whether I realized it or not, my weaknesses were glaring so not admitting them gave people the impression that I was not self-aware and, therefore, less trustworthy. Moreover, pretending to be something you’re not is exhausting. However, in more recent years, as embarrassing as it is sometimes, I have found it refreshing and more effective just to let people know the real me. To my surprise, people are OK to have a leader with flaws. What they don’t want is a leader who pretends as though he has none.

This was edited from the original, posted on the Gospel Relevance blog.

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Confluence is a place where the reformed, the charismatic, and the mission-minded converge to equip and serve the church to transform communities. Our authors are mostly leaders in the Newfrontiers family of churches.