Guest Post by Tom Harper: 13 Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves

The following is a guest blog by Tom Harper, Publisher of and President of the Society for Church Consulting.

Every leader needs to ask introspective questions. Several of the ones on the checklist below have caused me to reevaluate not just where I am, but who I am. They are in no particular order.

As this year unfolds, now is a great time to recalibrate yourself.

1.  Is narcissism 90% of Twitter?
I mean come on. How can I really follow and read what 1,736 people have to say? Isn’t it really all about having an audience of my own? So then, what is my motivation for doing it?

2.  Is social media your newest time-waster?
In a recent blog post, Seth Godin wrote, “I’d like to posit that for idea workers, misusing Twitter, Facebook and various forms of digital networking are the ultimate expression of procrastination. You can be busy, very busy, forever. The more you do, the longer the queue gets. The bigger your circle, the more connections are available.”

3.  Are we insulting Jesus with all the books and blogs denigrating his church?
I’m reading a thought-provoking book called “Why We Love the Church.” The authors ask this same question.

4.  Do you lead your organization too softly?
Humility is honorable, but is it time to shake things up and perhaps lose a few friends for the sake of the vision? Why not be bolder?

5.  Are you blinded by your own vision?
Is it time to get a new one, even if the old one was unique – though not yet achieved?

6.  Is it time for you to make a personal leadership change?
Maybe you’ve done your best and the ride has come to an end. Leaving may be exactly what you and your organization need for rejuvenation.

7.  If you were hired to replace yourself, what would you do differently in your job?
Zero-base your position. What would you do if you started from scratch? Why aren’t you doing it now?

8.  What excites you these days?
Why aren’t you doing more of it? Maybe your followers would be more enthused if you were.

9.  Do you need to be more accountable to someone?
Someone needs to know what’s going on in the world of your heart. God often speaks to me frankly through my wife and close friends.

10.  What do you pray about?
Is it the same thing all the time? Is it always about yourself?

11.  Is your near-term future one big question mark, or do you have a plan?
Our God is a God of plans. Think two or three years out – what’s your next destination?

12.  Who was the last person you witnessed to that accepted Christ?
We are called to make disciples. Is it time to hone your skills or simply step out of your comfort zone?

13.  Do you read enough books?
It’s hard to grow without putting new ideas into your head. I get inspired by books on leadership and management. They encourage me to try new things.

5 Benefits of Working With an Outside Consultant

As a consultant that works with churches and ministry organizations, I appreciated this recent article by Alan Chandler and thought it was worth reposting here. Here’s what Alan wrote:

There is a trend in church revitalization efforts that needs to be addressed.  The trend is the felt need to handle everything internally.

The opening decade of the 21st Century has revealed historically unique challenges for the church.  More and more, church and denominational leaders are recognizing the existence of  these challenges.  For the most part their response has been to keep everything in-house.  In other words: Their revitalization efforts are internally generated and implemented.

How is it working?  An honest answer is, “Not so well.”  There is growing frustration among leaders as revitalization efforts meet with lack of enthusiasm and effectiveness.  Yet church leaders (denominational and local church) are still hesitant to look outside for help.

In effort to address these felt frustrations, I offer a brief list of five benefits to working with an outside consultant.

They come from the outside: I know it looks like I am overstating the obvious.  The realty, however, is the majority of what an outside consultant brings to the table is that they come from the outside.  The outside element is huge and carries with it many peripheral benefits.

Objectivity: Only someone from the outside can be completely objective.  Simply put: It takes an outsider to see the challenges that people involved in the day-to-day no longer see.

Insulation of church leadership: Because consultations deal with potentially sensitive issues, an outside consultant provides a layer of insulation for the leaders of the church.  Most of the opposition to difficult recommendations can be buffered through the outside consultant before it ever gets to church and denominational leaders.

Freedom to tackle difficult recommendations: Outside consultant’s are not emotionally connected to their client church and can therefore make difficult recommendations.

They are more openly received: This one is perhaps the most significant, yet most under appreciated of the benefits.  It’s the source of the felt frustration of denominational leadership.  It’s also the root cause for the lack of buy-in of the local church.

No matter how you slice it, if it comes from the top the local church will view it as “just another program.”  Regardless of the vision, mission, etc.; by the time it hits the local church it’s received as burden being forced upon them by the “higher-ups” in the denomination.

One of the mysteries associated with recommendations coming from an outside consultant is they are viewed less as programatic, and received more as being rallied to a cause.

These are his five observations.  What do you think about bringing in an outside consultant?