Leadership 101


Recently, ESPN.com senior national columnist, Gene Wojciechowski, wrote an article called “One Guy Can Make All the Difference” about college football coaches and/or key players on a team (i.e.: Nick Saban and Robert Griffin III).

Gene writes that before Nick Saban became the head coach at Alabama, the school had not won a National Championship in 15 years. Since he became head coach, they have won three out of the past five National Championships.

But always remember the eternal truth of football: Sometimes it just takes one guy. And from that one guy comes a trickle-down effect that saturates a program or a franchise like a sprinkler system. L’s become W’s. Then W’s become championships. And championships become legacies.

Why am I writing about Nick Saban? I’m a UK fan for crying out loud! For that matter – why is this a topic on Church Music Today? Good question.

Today’s post is a leadership post which is geared to all leaders in ministry – not just church music folks. I am speaking to all the ministry leaders out there. You, the volunteer song-leader at your church. You, the new pastor. You, the veteran youth pastor. You, with the doctorate in theology who has been a pastor for 35 years…yeah, you too.


What is the definition of a leader? Webster’s defines the word “leader” as a person or thing that leads. So what does it mean to lead? The verb, lead, is to “go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort” via Webster’s.

No matter your position in the church – you are leading someone. Moreover, someone, somewhere is watching you, molding who they are around you, and learning from what you teach. Your poor habits and traits are being watched. Your excellent habits and traits are being mimicked.

So, how do you as a leader take your gifts and abilities and use them for God’s glory and be an excellent representative of Christ to those who are learning from how you lead? Or, as the B.B. McKinney hymn states how do you “Let Others See Jesus In You” (1924, Broadman Press)?


Leadership “guru” John Maxwell has developed five levels of leadership.

The five levels include:

1. Position – People follow because they have to.

2. Permission – People follow because they want to.

3. Production – People follow because of what you have done for the organization.

4. Person Development – People follow because of what you have done for them personally.

5. Pinnacle – People follow because of who you are and what you represent.

If you are a pastor in the church, does your staff follow you only because they have to? Do they follow you because they want to? Do they follow because you lead by example? Do they follow because you have invested in them? Do they follow because of who you are and what you represent?


In the article from ESPN.com, Gene Wojciechowski wrote about the “trickle-down” effect in coaching circles. The trickle-down effect works in good and bad examples. If you are a poor organizer, administrator, or planner and you do not attempt to be, there is a trickle-down effect with the people you are leading. You are saying organizing, administrating and planning isn’t important. If you stress the importance of organizing, administrating, and planning – by leading by example – then there is a trickle-down effect as well. Your staff will do as you are doing and value those traits.

The trickle-down effect is huge. HUGE.

If you want your staff to lead in a certain way – model that way of leadership. If you want your staff to be excited about your ministries – model that way of leadership. If you want your staff to run their ministries like a CEO would run a business – model that way of leadership.

It’s as easy as that.

Those you are leading are ready to be led. But if you do not live by example, that is when conflict occurs.


So, how do you get to the point where your staff meetings turn from arguments to delights? How do you get to the point where your team meetings turn from finger-pointing to joining hands in prayer? How can you transform deacon’s meetings from reports on what isn’t working in the church to praying through the ministry opportunities God has given you in your church and community?

It begins and ends with the leader. You are contagious. You are the one who molds the meeting and organizes its structure. You keep the meeting in control. You are the one working ahead of time to make sure there isn’t confusion, lack of structure and unanswered questions. It isn’t easy. It takes hard work, planning, prayer and courage.

If something doesn’t work the first time through, seek out why and then ask yourself if you need to possibly change your stance. Your way always isn’t right. Maybe to relate to a staff person better or a church member better you need to change your approach. The process to get where God is leading may be a long and winding road. Your attitude toward the issue at hand may need to change in order to gain a better perspective on the true problem before you can edit the problem.

Rick Warren wrote, “No amount of PR can cover up poor leadership indefinitely. It’s eventually obvious to all,even to those who can’t admit it.”

One guy can make all the difference. One guy can turn things around or sink the ship.

Which guy are you?


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