How gettting fired from a church made me a better leader

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Yep.  I managed to get fired from a church.

That’s almost as bad as getting fired from a volunteer position! After four years on staff as a Campus Minister I was let go in late 2001. There were a few reasons for the firing that I still don’t agree with, but that’s another story!

I was let go in November of 2001 and needed to move my family back to the Chicago area and find a new career. That was tough because I truly thought I had found my thing in the ministry. I was happy and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Needless to say, life went on, I started a couple of businesses and now I’m where I am doing what I’m doing now. As I look back on my journey, there are a few things that have become crystal clear to me in the area of leadership.

I’m grateful for getting fired because it was the catalyst that led me down this road! It was one of the many things in my life that has showed me that my leadership still has a long way to go. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1.  As much as I naturally take charge, I am not in control.

I’m a ‘High D’ on a DISC Profile. I tend to impatiently push forward in my desire to win. I’m competitive and will gladly outwork you in order to get an edge. I sometimes tend to leave a wake of damage behind me on my quest to hitting a goal. I also have high expectations for myself and others.

The past 11 years have shown me that no matter what I do, I am not in control (I see this as a good thing). All I can do as a leader is personally grow in my skills, learn to communicate with those I lead in a way that will resonate with them and then let them decide how they will respond. I’ve learned that we all are on a journey and are growing at our own pace.

 2.  It’s OK to slow down and enjoy the ride.

This has always been hard for me and quite honestly, I haven’t gotten this one down yet. I find it tough to enjoy the ride when I’m still trying to accomplish the ‘mission,’ whatever it may be! Taking days off is OK. Stopping now and then to celebrate how much has been accomplished is a good thing and much needed for the team.

When I coached football we would take time each week to recognize and award individual performance from the past game.  We would honor a player for a great block, uncommon effort or a selfless attitude in practice that week. Win or lose we would take the time each week to enjoy the ride…and that’s OK.

3.  People still grow and flourish without me in their life.

This is closely related to #1 above. Being a natural control freak I used to think that I was crucial to the development of the people I lead. What I’ve seen over the years is that all of the people I have led have actually gone on to do really good for themselves! Yep, with or without me they continue on their journey and grow. The key ingredient for growth is a willingness to grow…not a particular ‘leader’ in your life. If I could have a ‘Campus Ministry Do-Over’: I would have enjoyed those relationships more when we were together. I would serve more, laugh more and encourage more. I would view those relationships as a blessing and an opportunity to tag along on each person’s journey.

4.  Serve and help first…the desired results will follow.

Want to grow your church membership? Your company sales numbers? Win more games? Then serve. Help people get better. Help them with their problems. Look out for them. When you do this, your desired results will follow. Teach the sales person to ask good questions…she will sell.  Meet the needs of a church member…they will feel loved…then they will want to bring a friend.

My ‘words of wisdom for all who lead: You are not in control, so enjoy the opportunity you have to be involved in so many lives. Help and honor others and the ‘wins’ will come.