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Leadership Lessons Learned on the Curb and Cuff: Lead don't just Maintain!

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It is always amazing to me how some people aspire to be a leader but dislike others being angry with them. I sincerely detest being the bearer of bad news but as a leader it is inevitable; you will at times make some people mad, and sometimes your pure existence will piss some others off. For whatever reason people sometimes mistake leaders for being agitators. When I consider this particular lesson, I can’t help but think of Dr. Martin Luther King. Initially Dr. King was seen as an agitator and as a result may people disassociated themselves from him. There was even clergyman who refused to let him into the church to speak to the parishioners regarding civil rights because it would only make things worse for them. As time progressed Dr. King continued to face the ostracism by those who thought he was simply an agitator, he later reflected upon this in his very profound philosophical letter written from a Birmingham jail. Once the civil rights movement was underway some of his critics became supporters and eventually joined his movement.

As a leader it is your job to enhance the lives of those whom you lead and serve even if you are disliked. In whatever context you serve you must improve the lives for those whom you serve. For instance, the first time I was appointed to pastor a church it was located in Panama City, FL; keep in mind I resided in Miami. I called the steward to inform her of my appointment she welcomed me to the church and proceeded to ask “why in the world would the bishop would send a pastor from Miami” and proceeded to tell me how the church would not be able to support a pastor from Miami. My first Sunday at the church I met twelve people and after church I held my first conference where I asked the people, what I could do to make the church better as the pastor?

When I was first assigned to the church I was faced with making a critical decision, was I going to be a maintainer or a leader? I decided early on that I was going to be a leader because maintaining just wouldn’t work. Maintaining meant continuing to struggle to pay the assessments, and ultimately watch the church maintain to die and leading meant elevating the church to the next level.

I can recall the surprise on their faces when one of the members replied back, “Pastor no one has asked us that in a while.” The parishioners began telling me what improvements could be made and I listened intently. One of the main things they wanted to accomplish was to increase membership. A few months later I announced we were going to go out into the community and evangelize and invite people to our church. I can recall after church a few of the members said to me “Pastor we are too old to do that; we are on walkers and canes” and I replied “bring your walker and your canes we will make it”.

The morning of the evangelism I showed up to church and found several men from the community and church painting; as we were having family and friends day the next day. One of the brothers said “Pastor as the rest of the members and you are going to invite people to church today, I thought we would fix up the church to have it presentable for the people”. My heart was overjoyed and I went in the building to find a fellowship hall full of young people and senior saints ready to walk the community. We prayed and set out to walk the community. We walked a little bit and had to along the way, but we finally walked the entire community encouraging others to join the church. As we walked we encountered people who were surprised to know that our church was still open and thriving. The community learned a valuable lesson that day, everything that is dormant isn’t’ dead. The following day at the Family and Friends event we had a total of 95 people in attendance. The subsequent week I was reassigned to another church in Coleman, FL a little closer to home. I left the church with tears in my eyes but joy in my heart knowing that I had made things a little better for the great people in Panama City. The next month I was able to return to preach for the churches anniversary and it was only standing room only in the sanctuary. One of my most enjoyable pastoral moments was when the very steward who welcomed me stood to make her remarks and said I originally said to Reverend Brown why in the world would they send us someone from Miami and with tears in her eyes as she said “now I don’t know how we’re going to make it without him”

I share this story not to toot my own horn but to show that sometimes your agitation will result in positive outcomes despite initial resistance. Keep in mind that in whatever context you lead, lead your followers to better things.

As illustrated by Dr. King an agitator can influence change in spite of opposition, he refused to maintain the status quo and now has a monument and day to honor him for doing so. So take a chance, make the people mad as you lead it is said the squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Remember it won’t necessarily be easy but it will be worth it in the end.

After reading the above discourse you are probably saying, Santarvis it is not that easy, and you are right.

Ask yourself in what context are you currently leading, and ask yourself the tough questions are you truly leading or are you maintain? Once you complete the introspection that put yourself on the right course to lead and stop maintaining.

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