How do you lead up in NextGen ministry? Any idea on how you can get buy-in from leadership? How can you take charge when you’re not necessarily in charge?
One of the biggest challenges we face as NextGen leaders is gaining the buy-in from senior leadership without always having a position of influence in our church.
For those of you who have a plan and vision that exceeds your authority, here are five courageous challenges and related passages of Scripture to help you lead up in NextGen ministries.
1. Be faithful in the little things
“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’” (Matthew 25:23 NLT).
In Jesus’ parable of the three servants, He shows us what it means to faithfully steward what has been entrusted to us. Let’s remember to do what we can with what we’ve been given.
Whether you’re given leadership over a single budget line item or an entire department’s spending, the best way to influence the future decisions of the budget is to faithfully steward what you’ve been given.
When you control your spending, keep track of every receipt, and can show how you used the church’s money to do amazing ministry, you show how you can set the direction for future spending. That’s just one example of how to lead regardless of your span of leadership.
When we can show that we can manage a little, we may be entrusted with more influence.
2. Be loyal to the team
Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too (Philippians 2:4 NLT).
Are you leading for the benefit of others or yourself? In How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, Clay Scroggins asks, “Are you the type of leader that makes others better?”
Being a leader worth following means you lead out of your influence with others, not your position with others. When your actions inspire everyone around you to imagine more and to become more, you naturally begin to lead up.
In contrast, when you look out for yourself and your position, you push people away and extinguish joy in your workplace. Choose the team over yourself and people will naturally begin to follow.
3. Choose love
Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.
Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful (Colossians 3:12-15 NLT).
Your leader isn’t perfect. Your team isn’t perfect. And you aren’t perfect.
Choose today to accept those around you, flaws and all. Nothing stands out more in this broken world like someone who chooses love. When we treat those around us with understanding and compassion, we model the type of leadership that Jesus set for us.
4. Be dedicated to the mission
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up (Galatians 6:9 NLT).
Scroggins defines ambition as “that strong desire we have to make something or to achieve something, even when it takes great effort, focus, and determination.”
In other words, to lead up, you must not give up.
Focus on what you can control and make it great. Don’t allow unimportant things to wear you down and get in the way of what God has called you to accomplish. Consider even visually posting the mission where you and your team will daily see what you’re aiming towards.
5. Guard your heart
This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader, he desires an honorable position.” So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach.
He must be faithful to his wife. He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. He must not be a heavy drinker or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him.
For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT).
Nothing will make you lose influence or discredit your leadership faster than sin. You might not be in charge of the whole organization, but you are in charge of yourself.
What thoughts do you need to take captive to obey Christ? Where have you allowed yourself to drift and need to get yourself back on track? Repent and choose right now to walk in obedience. When you learn how to better lead yourself, you’ll become a better leader of others.