As a leader, you live in the future. While you have to be grounded to the present, and build on the past, much of your time is spent looking at the future and how to best prepare for it.
A leader, and his team, need a clear vision of where they want to go. A vision is your expectation of what the future could look like. You need to be able to see the reality of the future clearly enough to know what you must do to get there. This takes some creative and well-informed imagination. You need to know the realities of the present well enough to know what can be reality in the future. If you understand the present clearly enough, you know what must happen to make your dreams come true.
The average person doesn’t have the capacity to dream. Some are so loaded down with life that dreaming seems impossible. I recently talked with a lady who had been a single mom, just barely surviving day to day. She said she had not had any energy to think beyond the present day for a long time.
To think beyond that was impossible. Others do not have the time or ability to dream a better future.
The average person doesn’t have the capacity to dream. Some are so loaded down with life that dreaming seems impossible. I recently talked with a lady who had been a single mom, just barely surviving day to day. She said she had not had any energy to think beyond the present day for a long time. To think beyond that was impossible. Others do not have the time or ability to dream a better future.
Leaders need to be able to see a better future and take the responsibility of helping others see that better future.
As a leader you should anticipate growth, and desire that more people come to church. This requires future thinking to anticipate what this growth will look like and how you will get there. Will you outgrow your space in the next couple of years? Will you need to expand space or start multiple services? Will you have to hire more staff or equip more volunteers? Consider what a larger congregation will look like and the realities that will be associated with that welcomed growth. As you see that future, you need to be able to begin to prepare for it.
When you plan a meeting, you are living in the future. You need to have a clear understanding of what is most important for that meeting.
If you are planning a staff meeting next week, you need to be clear about the priorities of that day. Not the priorities of today, or tomorrow, but at that time. You need to know how to deal with the issues of the moment of that day, even though you are not there yet. In that way you can set an appropriate agenda that will guide that meeting and help everyone present know how to keep moving toward the vision. Yes, a staff meeting does need to look back a bit, and recognize the realities of the day, but the leader needs to inspire hope for the future in those he is leading.
When considering your staffing needs, it is important that you hire employees who will help your organization do more than you are presently doing. You need to anticipate what each person or role will contribute towards your vision. You can’t just hire for the moment, because you are already handling the issue of the moment. You want someone who will help you move ahead. This requires a plan for what your organization will need in the future and how a new hire will not only help you get there, but also help once you’ve reached those goals in a way the present team can’t yet do. Hire for growth. If you only hire to accomplish what is already being done, you are adding staff for maintenance, not growth.
Programming and Events
As a leader, you recognize that there are times when a certain program or event can help your church move toward your vision. There may be studies that you want your church to go through because they will better equip your members to do what you believe God has called your church to. You are living in the future as you see what you hope will be the results of this study.
I am presently preaching a series on hearing God. I want the congregation to get a better understanding of the truth that God still speaks to us and we can hear him guiding us in our daily lives. I anticipate a future where the members are more aligned with Jesus and truly hear him speak into their daily lives.
I am a Transition Pastor so there are certain meetings I have with the congregation that I hope will resolve any issues of the past and encourage the church to look forward with anticipation to what God will do. I am living in the future when I see a church that has dealt with issues, where repentance and forgiveness has taken place, and where there is greater unity around their common vision for the future.
You don’t have to be a leader very long before you encounter challenges. Some of these can be completely unexpected, like the covid challenge. But others can be anticipated and prepared for. For example, if half your congregation loses their jobs because a local mill shuts down, a pastor who is leading well will see how this will impact the financial aspects of the church in the near future. Leaders can see challenges coming if they look ahead.
If you are going to lead your church or organization through those challenges, you need to be able to see what your church will look like when you get to the other side. You need to know how to lead them through these challenges. No one ever knows what the other side of a challenge will really look like, but a leader can prayerfully dream the better future and then lead toward it.
Leaders are not prophets, yet they need to read the “signs of the times.” Some farmers say that if you have a period of heavy fog, there will be rain in 90 days. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight” says that a red sky at night will bring a pleasant morning. Leaders need to learn how to read their situations to understand their future, and leaders need to constantly consider the future as they lead in the present.
Keep looking up,