Experiments in Transformational Leadership

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This post contains both a confession and a vision. Over the past three or four years, I have been facilitating pastor peer groups for one of our conference programs. The objective of the groups are that each pastor can become the transformational leader he or she is called to be.

A few times, after reading the objective with the group, I’ve commented that when I became a pastor over twenty years ago being a transformational leader was not part of my agreement. When I became a pastor I had visions of preaching, teaching, visiting, and helping people grow in their relationship with God. Seminary taught me how to exegete a passage, different theologies, and the doctrine of my denomination. We had one class about leadership, but it was mostly reading and focused on different types of leaders; autocratic, benevolent, etc. Transformational leadership was not on the syllabus.

If I were to define transformational leadership, I would say transformational leadership focuses on change whether the change encompasses transition, spiritual formation, organizational vision and values, cultural interaction, or some other kind of shift. The world has changed, is changing, and will continue to change. Transformational leadership equips pastors to address current challenges so that they can be effective and fruitful in pursing God’s mission.

About five years ago I had an epiphany concerning leadership and the church. For most of my ministry, I didn’t have too much of room for anything regarding leadership. My focus was spiritual formation, preaching, and visitation. I left leadership development to businesses. As an example, it was just tonight, for this post, that I added “leadership” as one of the categories! Slowly my attitude has shifted as I realized how much and quickly culture changes.

Along with cultural transitions, the work of pastors has shifted as well. In the past decade or two, pastoral tasks have added email, websites, social media, presentation software, and that’s just the technological tasks. Some would say pastors should delegate these tasks to others, but the reality is, most pastors, have to take on these roles because those in the congregation who could, are too busy, and others just don’t have the skills. Without these tasks being addressed, the church finds itself on the sidelines of communication.

Over the past few years, I have been stretched, learned much, and feel that I am a much better leader. Through many books, podcasts, and blog postings, my understanding organizational health, management, and leadership, I’m learning what I wish I would have learned many years ago. I regret neglecting leadership training for so long. Now, I have about fifteen or so years left until retirement. My hope, and prayer, is that those years are filled with fruitful and effective ministry because I’m learning to lead in a healthy and effective way.

So far, I’ve made my confession. Now for my vision! The past year has seen quite a few changes in my life. I moved last year from a small town church, to a church in a large college town. I went from having almost no staff, to having multiple staff. Transformational leadership has become much more important as I see the changes in culture and churches. My vision is to share my journey with you.

If you, like me, recognize all the changes happening and feel a bit overwhelmed, I invite you to journey with me as I share what has helped me and is helping me. I plan on posting once a week on becoming a transformational leader for God’s glory.

My journey toward transformational leadership started with a book In my next post, I will share how that book changed the direction of my life.