How often do you look at your church team and wonder, what are they thinking?
Sometimes as a leader, it can feel like you are very far away from the people gathered around you, and you don’t quite know what words of encouragement they need at the time. In every ministry, whether youth group, an IT team, or an entire congregation, leaders need their own advice too sometimes.
Whether it’s declining attendance, strained budget, or struggles with faith, every problem that you face as a church leader has been faced by someone before you. You’re not in this alone.
Here are 10 church leadership quotes that can refocus you for the holidays and the coming year.
1. Don’t stress over numbers
Source: Kingsley Opuwari Manuel
You hear a lot about spiritual gifts in the church. But sometimes labeling congregants only marks them as a static object—rather than as someone who is in the process of change. Your job as a leader, someone with the vision to see gifts, is to take joy as you note personal changes occurring in your team.
2. It’s going to get messy
Source: Anne Graham Lotz
Here it’s interesting to note the word “obscene.” Oftentimes, leadership will bring you into situations that are just plain awful. Whether you embarrass yourself horribly stepping into a role that you shouldn’t fill, or an Easter service just goes haywire, remember that true leadership includes patience for terrible mistakes.
3. Take some time off
Source: A.A. Milne
This quote, from the writer of “Winnie the Pooh,” is one I know you’ve forgotten: take a break! God did not schedule 45 minutes for his commute home on the seventh day. He took the whole day off. If you are leading a team and find yourself constantly in their heads, rather than in your own, make sure to find that time away to reset so you can come back to leadership with a clear vision. Sometimes the best way to do this is to use tools like church management software to make certain tasks such as volunteer scheduling and donation management more efficient, so that more things get done with less worry from you.
4. Get involved
Source: Xun Kuang, aka Xunzi
This quote, commonly falsely attributed to Benjamin Franklin, actually comes from Chinese Confucian philosopher Xunzi. However, as predictable as it may be, I think this one is at the core of what it means to be a leader. As a leader in the church, you are not there to preside, you are there to mingle. This means that if you are directing a project, take some time to do some of the steps with your group. It is not enough to issue orders—make sure that your team knows you have a personal stake in them, and that their roles are indispensable.
5. Show a little love
Source: J.R.R. Tolkien
I managed to refrain from quoting C.S. Lewis, but I couldn’t leave you without a quote from Gandalf, could I? Sometimes being a leader is not just about knowing the right answer, or being extremely organized—although a good calendar is certainly important. When your group is dealing with the stress of a difficult season, for whatever reason, it is most important to let them know that you care about them. This can mean leaving a cupcake on someone’s desk when they look like they could really use it, but it also means building up a day-to-day culture of kindness—making compliments a part of the weekly meeting, or taking note of birthdays.
6. Maintain your groundwork
Source: Dorothy Day
This quote is from Dorothy Day, someone who learned to lead powerfully while working as a mid-century Christian activist for workers’ rights. However, this quote is less about how to inspire those beneath you as it is a reminder to build up habits that keep your own fire stoked every day. When you wake up every morning with a cup of coffee and the reading of the psalms, you will be that much more prepared for your role leading a larger team.
7. Don’t be discouraged by your limitations
This quote is an excerpt from the poem “A Future Not Our Own,” inspired by the Archbishop Oscar Romero (assassinated in 1980) and written by Bishop Ken Untener. This quote should serve as a reminder that one of the powers of a great leader is the ability to realize that where your leadership ends, God’s leadership begins. When you take stock at the end of the year andreview your ministry’s performance, be encouraged in knowing that this year is just a preparation for the next.
8. Remember you have a long way to go
Source: Ravi Zacharias
One of the most recently successful Christian apologists and a bestselling author, Ravi Zacharias has a double charge here, and not just for ministers! All types of young church leaders benefit from a position of humility, and seeking the wisdom of those who have occupied their position in the past. If you are a young leader, try reaching out to someone who has filled your shoes before and jot down some notes on what to work on in the coming year. Building up discipline for yourself and remembering that you still have a long way to go will help create genuine respect in the ministry you are starting to lead.
9. Walk a mile in their shoes
Source: David Bailey
This quote comes from David Bailey, founder of Arrabon, a ministry focused on racial reconciliation, a topic that is becoming more and more relevant to churches across America. It can be hard to know how to start addressing this topic, and how to integrate it into your personal ministry. It’s helpful to remember that the real work required to address this issue is just what you are already called to do—form relationships and learn about people. If you’re committed to stepping into the spaces that people different from you are occupying, you will be able to build trust in a more diverse team, and achieve better results as a bonus!
10. Rest and read
Source: John Piper
For those of you who are just looking for a bit of practical advice, here it is: try taking half the day off once a month just to create a space for yourself, and take notes on what you read. Better yet, read these specific books that John Piper recommends! And if you’re not into them, try the ones we suggest in this article from last Christmas. Resting, reading, and learning can go a long way to help you guide your ministry into the coming year.
What quotes inspire you?
Are there any quotes that you have found inspiring as you learn about leadership? Please share them below! And if you are hungry for more leadership advice, check out these other articles on Capterra’s church management blog:
- 8 Expert Tips: How Leadership In The Church Can Better Communicate With Their Congregation
- Dream Big: 8 Motivational Lessons to Try at Your Church This Fall
- Top 6 Takeaways From the Exponential Church Planting Conference
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