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10 Leadership Lessons Learned in the First 5 Years

I’ve been the Lead Pastor at Chapel Pointe and living in Michigan for 5 years now. There has been a lot of growth in the church. It’s a privilege to be a part of what is happening here and I’m grateful to be a part of the team. Five years in and here’s my quick list of some of my greatest leadership lessons learned.

  1. Map out the destination

If you cannot clearly communicate the role, purpose, and destination of your organization, you are cheating your organization. People can’t be led well if they don’t know where they are going. The desired destination should be determined by how you believe your organization can influence others. Even at Chapel Pointe our vision statement is hugely important. It is said often to staff and the congregation while also displayed in huge letters in the most central and prominent area of our building.

  1. Set clear expectations

A church is unique in that there are various teams of volunteers and still those that are part of paid staff. Healthy expectations allow for greater clarity, leading to more consistent productivity and a higher sense of ownership whether they are volunteer or paid staff. A leader in the macro (organization as a whole) and micro (smaller teams) must communicate clear expectations in order for others to perform at their best.

  1. Sharpen and Encourage

It’s similar to parenting. People will only be receptive to sharpening if you are also encouraging them. If you constantly nag your kids they’re going to eventually tune you out and carry a bad attitude. Look for ways to encourage and build into others. Some sharpening may come with resistance, but it is appreciated in the long run.

  1. Determine your default settings that help build a healthy culture

What are those areas that your team or your organization falls back on? They are of huge importance to affecting culture. For some organizations gossiping and complaining is a default setting breeding a negative culture. Don’t allow it. Building culture won’t happen overnight, but being intentional in your efforts will eventually pay off. Leaders drive culture. If you don’t like what is happening in your organization take a look in the mirror.

  1. Don’t be afraid to hit the reset button

Are things moving in the wrong direction? Take a step back and restart. It starts with leadership. Hitting the reset button means releasing the old and chasing the new. Too often we hold onto proverbial doorframes in our lives, not wanting to leave what is behind and enter what lies before us. Let go and when needed, start anew.

  1. Be who God has called you to be, rather than who others expect you to be

I’ve always been drawn to business. Before going to seminary I actually got a business degree from the University of Georgia. I’ve renovated homes and found myself constantly giving advice to business people within the church. In the last couple of years I started a leadership consulting business where I get to pour into leaders in various businesses in our area. It may seem counter cultural to the normal pastor role, but what I’ve found is that it not only sharpens me as a pastor but it increases my voice in the community. To me, this is a huge win-win and I’m grateful for my church leadership team that allows me to have greater influence in this way.

  1. Love people with God’s love, when they least expect it, and least deserve it

We all have weaknesses, insecurities, and we are all sinners. But, God’s love is free and undeserved. Let’s love each other like that. Love in a way that is proactive, not reactive. It’s not reciprocal love; it’s unconditional love.

  1. Being a Christian isn’t about being comfortable

This is huge. Too often our comfort level determines our decisions. Think of the impact and influence you can have when you actually get comfortable being uncomfortable.

  1. Comparisons do nothing but lower your own standards

We often mock others and compare them to our own standards of right and wrong. We need greater conviction and resolve to not be better than others, but to be who God has called us to be. Again, be who God has called you to be, rather than who others expect you to be (and pray to know the difference).

  1. See people for who they can become in Christ, rather than who they are in themselves

In other words, assume the best in people. Over the years of serving God’s church, I have continually been reminded that the greatest discouragement and criticism of the church is often already in the church. Within businesses I find that true as well, which only hinders the team as a whole. Set aside pride and look for the best in others and watch your team thrive.

The Next 5 Years

Growth is vital but it can be uncomfortable, uncertain, and it takes intentional determination. Reflect on what you’re holding on to and what’s holding you back. God’s plans are greater than you could hope or imagine (Ephesians 3:20-21). Here’s to the next 5 years!


– Joel Wayne


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