When you welcome a new leader
Wednesday, September 06, 2017
In recent days, the denomination I claim as home, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), has welcomed a new general minister and president. Whenever communities welcome new leaders, I think there are some basic things we forget to do:
1. Take a deep breath
As human beings, we are all change averse. So please, take a deep breath. Even positive changes bring with them a variety of uncertainty, anxiety and change. Make sure you are entering into this new space with a clear head and an open heart.
2. Pray for them
Chances are the new leader has a bit of apprehension herself, so surround her in prayer.
Pray for patience as she learns a new role. Pray for wisdom as she begins to guide your community. Pray for balance as she learns how to manage a new schedule. Pray for joy as she falls in love with the church in a new way. Pray for connectedness as ministry is a lonely role. Pray for her family as they adjust to this new way of life.
Pray for the church as everyone learns to work together in a new way.
3. Write things down
Churches can be the worst for operating on oral tradition, so for the benefit of your new leader write down as many of those "unwritten rules" as you can. The more information you can have written down for reference, the more your new leader will feel empowered to know what is really happening in your community when it comes to the expectations, culture and "politics."
4. Talk to them, not about them
One of the worst things we can do to our new leaders is talk about them, not to them. If you have a question about a decision or want to know more about something they are working on, go ask them.
Parking lot meetings or side conversations can quickly build anxiety and undermine the trust that a new leader is trying to build. Do everyone a favor and talk to each other instead of about each other.
5. Get to know them
The first weeks and months of a new leader's position can be the loneliest. Invite him to dinner. Pop by his office and say hi. Get to know his family.
Many pastors report feeling lonely and isolated in their role as pastor. Church, we can do better. Let's get to know our leaders.
I am excited to welcome our new general minister and president, and I am going to follow my own advice in the next few weeks.
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