Today I want to talk about the value of study. If you’re like most people the word study sends cold chills down your spine. A simple online search shows that most people will never read another book after they graduate high school. That number goes up even more after college graduation. Simply put we don’t like to study unless we absolutely have to.
Sadly that trend sneaks into the ministry world too. Pastors are busy people. We have the responsibility of many people and situations that we deal with daily. There are meetings to attend and decisions to be made constantly and on top of everything else there is a sermon to be preached each week. Pastors definitely work more than an hour on a Sunday even if many people think otherwise.
I can understand the overwhelming temptation to handle the issues of the church and put personal development on the back burner. I’ve done that far too many times as a pastor. I’ll probably catch myself doing it again too. What I hope to do through this blog post is to inspire you to make time for personal development. When I first became a pastor an older minister said to me, “As you go so goes the church.” He was drawing on years of personal experience to tell this young up-and-coming leader to make sure that I am healthy if I ever have any hopes of leading a healthy church.
Paul told his young protégé Timothy to “do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Paul was encouraging Timothy to make the time to prepare himself personally. All of us would do well to remind ourselves of this verse as pastors. We should strive to do our best while rightly handling God’s word. In today’s world we need approved workers and not mere sermon deliverers.
Many of us find joy in the study of God’s word. Think of those times when you are laboring over a passage and you finally make that revelatory break through. In those moments it is as if the heavens have opened up and God is shining down on us. Those moments are great. Other times we seem to read the same passage over and over again only to feel lost. It is easy to go into Sunday morning feeling like you missed the bus and all you have is an empty outline. Study isn’t always the most fun part of our lives, but personal preparation makes all the difference.
There is another element of personal study that we overlook too often. This side of our development deals with our leadership development. Us pastors and leaders are called to influence people toward God’s agenda for their lives and without constant leadership growth it’s hard to do that. Many of us wing it and hope that we can use our position as “the pastor” to influence people. While that works to a certain extent we can increase our ability to lead by increasing our abilities as leaders.
What are you doing regularly to grow as a leader? Are you reading the right books? Are you listening to helpful podcasts? Are you seeking out healthy mentors? These are a few questions that I hope will push you to make the necessary changes in your leadership life to make an eternal impact for the rest of your life. When we read books that add value to our leadership we are ultimately making our ministries better. When we listen to good podcasts and implement things we’ve learned we are making our churches better. When we engage in mentoring relationships and allow others to challenge us to be better we are positioning our lives and leadership for greater impact.
Here are a 3 practical tips to help you in your leadership development and study:
Schedule Leadership Development Time
Either you will rule your schedule or your schedule will rule you. Take the time to sit down and schedule leadership development time. For me Mondays are “development days” where I take time to personally pour into myself as a leader. I read books and listen to podcasts that directly relate to my life as a leader and my stage as a pastor. I try to use Monday as a day that I get personal development and that I get organizational development for our church. Those are sacred times in my calendar that I guard vehemently. I have created 52 days for personal and organizational development. Over the long haul those days are making me a better leader and ultimately making our church a better church.
Use Quality Resources
This is extremely important to your development. Development is not about how much material you take in it is about what kind of material you take in. Find resources that are relevant to your stage as a leader. If you pastor a church of 150 people you don’t need to inundate yourself with resources that teach you how to break the 1,000 member barrier. While that is good information it isn’t pertinent information. If you are the 150 pastor find resources on how to break the 200 barrier and you’ll be better equipped for the stage you are in. The truth is all resources aren’t created equal. You have a limited amount of time for personal development and using quality resources will help your leadership grow exponentially. Find what you need now and let that inform you as a leader.
Find An Executable
How many times have we gone to a conference and heard great speakers that inspired us to be great leaders only to come home with tons of inspiration and little or no application? Inspiration doesn’t equal transformation. Your personal development is not complete until you’ve found an executable. What are you going to do with the information you’ve read? How are you going to implement it in your ministry? These questions will determine whether or not you grew as a leader or just learned a leadership principle. When finding an executable fight the temptation to do everything you’ve just learned. A simple step executed consistently will make more of a difference than multiple steps executed half-heartedly. Find an executable an develop a plan to put into practice what you’ve learned.
These are a few simple tips that I hope will help you as you develop your leadership. The important thing to remember is that everyone learns differently so find a plan to grow as a leader that speaks to your style of learning. If you are a reader then find the right books that will help you. If you are an auditory learner then find some good podcasts or teaching sessions that will help you. Find helpful resources that speak your learning language and put a personal growth plan in place. I would love to help you as you grow so feel free to contact me with any questions or areas that I may be of assistance to you.