written by Tim Peters
Life as a church leader is often filled with the expectations of others – be it first-time guests, regular attenders, or even your own staff. These expectations, often rooted in experience and personal need, carry a significant amount of weight, and generally speaking are not unreasonable. Yet, while their expectations are important, and perhaps even legitimate, you cannot meet every one of them, nor should you.
In any leadership position, we must strike a very positive balance between understanding people’s expectations and meeting them. As church leaders, if we aren’t both careful and thoughtful, we may find this balancing act a precarious one – either leaning wildly to the side of complete people pleasing or to the opposite side of the scale to complete disregard.
When it comes to meeting the expectations of others, I like to think of it this way; we should be predictable, but not boring. As a leader, your people want to know that they can trust you, depend upon you, and count on you to consistently be who you say you are going to be. That’s being predictable. And that’s an expectation that you should meet.
Learning to act upon reasonable expectations is an important tool in your leadership tool belt. But if you allow yourself to be completely driven by the expectations of others, you’ll quickly find yourself not only a predictable leader, but also a boring one.
Your message and creations will become focused on what you think people want to hear, leaving no room for originality, much less any movement of the Holy Spirit. You’ll find yourself second-guessing decisions on every level – “Does this creative piece work? Does this song work? Should we take the offering right now?”
So how do you stay predictable, but not boring? How do you avoid being swayed by every opinion?
- Stay connected to the One whose opinion counts the most. This should go without saying, but it also can’t go without saying. Because it’s critically important.
- Remember that understanding someone’s expectations is often more important than meeting them. People want to be heard and validated. They don’t necessarily want you to take action.
- Learn to say “no” well. People will want to feel you have a posture of yes, that you have their best interests at heart, and that you are really listening to their needs. Do those things well, and you’ll be surprised at how well your “no” is received.
- Ask yourself, “Will my people be surprised by this?” And if the answer is yes, ask yourself, “Is that a bad thing?”
- And finally, mix it up a little. Don’t feel like you have to do everything the same way all the time. Change the order of your service elements. Communicate events differently. Untuck your shirt. Just do something different and unexpected occasionally.
God is predictable. He’s responsible. But He never ceases to amaze us. He could have spoken to Moses in the form of a person, but he chose a burning bush. Be predictable, be responsible, but don’t be afraid to be surprising.
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