Key Qualities of Great Ministry Leaders
As someone who works alongside church staff and leaders all the time, I understand how challenging and intimidating it can be to simply get started. That first church plant. That first job in leadership. Whatever it is, that first step can feel like your scaling mountains just to begin. And then it finally happens.
You’re running a ministry, or in leadership in some capacity. You make a paycheck. You’ve been doing it for 5 years, 10 years, or however long. You lose sight of the struggle you went through in the beginning to get started and settle into a comfortable routine where everything appears to be “working” just fine.
But just because something isn’t broken doesn’t mean it’s operating at its fullest potential. As leaders, we are called to a higher standard by Scripture, and self-improvement is something we should strive for. You will either be the bottleneck or the jet fuel for your ministry, and it boils down to how invested you are in continuous improvement and growing as a leader and person.
So, whether you’re already leading a ministry, or just looking to get started, here are some key qualities of great ministry leaders to keep in mind. Things to reflect on, to be honest with yourself about, and to strive for improvement in:
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a single leadership blog where “communication” isn’t one of the primary talking points. And there’s a good reason for it. As a leader, everything revolves around communication – it’s your primary job.
But communication takes many shapes and forms. You need to be a good communicator both on stage and off. You need the ability to see the big-picture ideas and long-term agendas and distill them into easily digestible concepts. You need the ability to break hard news to staff and volunteers in the right way. You need to be able to read a room and understand what the appropriate tone of voice should be.
Some people are naturally great communicators, and others, not so much. But the same is true for all of us – we all have tons of room to grow in our communication skills.
A good leader isn’t measured by how great they are at doing everything themselves, but rather how great they are at managing what needs to be done and having it done well. And that requires delegation skills.
Great leaders surround themselves with people who are far more capable than themselves in each department, and delegate appropriately to those people. Trust your team, empower them to make decisions, and give them something they can be excited about leading!
As a leader, it’s important that your team can trust your word, and that means following through on your goals and promises. Of course, we all understand that circumstances can change and plans may need to be altered, but you don’t want to lack so drastically in execution that staff and the congregation begin to lose trust in what you say.
Be a visionary – that’s great! But don’t bite off more than you can chew, or consistently get staff excited about goals and plans that are simply never going to happen. Make attainable goals and be real with yourself regarding what you can handle. Hold yourself accountable to those plans and demonstrate to your team that your word is trustworthy.
Being a good “leader” is different than being a good “manager.” A manager can show up, talk the talk, get things done, and be efficient. But a leader does all those things in addition to demonstrating why people should follow in your footsteps, and your life needs to be a reflection of the principles you teach.
Root yourself in God’s word, show respect to your family at home, tip well at restaurants, be generous with your belongings, host guests when they need a place to stay, etc. You don’t need a bullet-point list. You just need to understand that more people look up to you as a leader than you may know, and you have eyes and ears on you all the time. That can prove to be a blessing or a curse depending on how you chose to live your life and the examples you set.
Be a living embodiment of the principles Jesus Christ taught if you want to lead a ministry based on His example.
Being a great leader isn’t easy, but at the end of the day, ironically self-improvement often comes from focusing outwardly. Trust others, empower others, don’t put yourself at the center, and focus on leading your ministry from a place of humility and love for others.
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.