Thursday, February 15, 2007

Gaining organizational leadership experience

Awhile back, I blogged about how future Pastors need to build skills in leadership, management, and administration.  I ended that post with a question:

If seminary falls on the side of “how well are they equipped for ministry” with regard to theological and biblical knowledge, where does the other half— the “readiness for ministry” part— come from?  Field Education and Internships.  After that, guys, you’re on your own.  How will you get the readiness you need?

Here are a few suggestions for ways to find such experience:

  • Volunteer at your church to help with administrative tasks.  Offer to help prepare minutes, organize budget reports, or agenda meetings.  Ask if you could lead a team of people, rather than working on your own.  Seek out duties that force you to develop skills in areas where you are weak.  The leadership of your church will probably be slow to delegate many of these things to you, but over time you can earn their trust as you build your abilities.
  • Find a job that will boost your leadership abilities.  You may even be able to find one at your seminary.  This may be a desk job or administrative work, or it may be working with the media or A/V department or the physical plant.  You will inevitably work with others, sometimes on a team and sometimes with you or someone else in authority— and that’s the point.  Learning to work with people is the heart of management, administration, and leadership.  If you need a job anyway, why not find one that will teach you as you work?
  • Ask the Deacons at your church to teach you what they do.  In many churches, the Deacons are charged with overseeing the administrative organization of the church, which means they organize the budget, make sure the staff is competent and well-managed, and deal with the many facets of keeping an organization running.  Too often, they are also over-worked.  If you approach them graciously about helping you learn, they will likely embrace the opportunity to have someone to share in the burden.  Meanwhile, you gain familiarity and skills in areas where you will need them.
  • Dig into the many available resources.  There are a lot of great books written about organizational leadership— some are geared toward a broad spectrum of organizations, while others are focused on non-profits, ministries, and churches.  Peter Drucker, for example, was a highly-regarded thinker, teacher, and writer in the business world, and after he retired he began focusing his efforts on non-profits.  There is also a growing number of resources that are not strictly books or reading material.  In another post I'll list my "top ten" recommended resources for building organizational leadership skills.

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