“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
For leaders, those famous words by George Santayana provide a powerful call to learn from the past in order to lead better in the future.
I recently sat down and thought back on the fantastic years I had serving as executive pastor of a large church in Canada. And as I did so I went through the exercise (which I’d highly recommend) of listing some of the most important lessons I learned along the way.
As I looked at my list I couldn’t help but think of how much more effective I could have been if I walked into that role armed with all that I now know.
But since that is obviously not possible, the next best thing is to help someone else learn “on my nickel”.
So, if you’re in leadership of a local church, perhaps you can benefit from the 10 things I would do differently, if I could do it all over again…
1. I would spend a lot more time with those in the church who get and support the vision
2. I would spend a lot less time with those in the church who didn’t get and support the vision
3. I would do a better job honoring our founders and long-time stakeholders
4. I would draw cleaner boundaries between work time and personal time
5. I would pour disproportionate time and energy into the staff who were delivering the greatest results
6. I would take greater responsibility for the development of administrative staff, not just pastoral staff
7. I would be more diligent in looking for signs of ministry burn out among staff. And I’d respond accordingly
8. I would pour more of myself into the young, rising leaders in our church
9. I would hire more slowly
10. I would move more quickly when it came to dealing with staff members with bad attitudes
The best thing about a list like this is that it keeps leadership learnings fresh and alive. I plan to practice this discipline more often.
Because as Santayana reminds us, those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
What are the biggest leadership lessons you’ve learned from your own experiences?