Stop. Stop and pray. Too often we charge ahead without stopping to ask God for wisdom. The Bible promises, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him” (Jas. 1:5, HCSB). Stop and ask God for wisdom. Stop and ask God for strength to do what is right when He gives you wisdom. Leaders stop and pray.
Look. Look and see what God is doing. You’ve heard this expressed many ways. Henry Blackaby tells us to watch to see where God is working and join Him (Experiencing God, 15). Rick Warren tells us to be like experienced surfers—recognize the wave of God’s Spirit and ride it (The Purpose Driven Church, 14). However you describe it, your goal as a leader is to see what God is doing and lead your people to join Him in His mission. What is happening that can only be attributed to God? What is God blessing to transform lives? Leaders look and see what God is doing.
Listen. Listen to the counsel of others–both positive and negative. As a leader, you will receive constructive advice. Learn to listen to others, value their input, and adjust your plans. Leadership, especially in Sunday School, is a team sport. You’re not the only one with good ideas. You’ll also receive negative feedback—criticism. Early in my ministry I learned a useful strategy for dealing with criticism:
- Listen to it.
- Evaluate it.
- Act on it. (If it’s legitimate, change. If it’s unfounded, ignore it.)
- Keep on serving.
As a leader, others are always glad to give you advice. Leaders listen.
When you come to the crossing of decision-making, learn to “Stop, Look, and Listen.” It will help you to avoid train wrecks.
Bob Wood serves as Church Growth Ministries Team Leader for the Baptist State Convention of Michigan.