The hardest leadership lessons are lessons learned the hard way. If you have been in leadership of people more than a year or so, you will have made mistakes. That’s just a fact. The worst mistakes are the ones we know we could have avoided – good advisors, wise mentors, experienced experts told us not to do a certain thing, and due to our zeal, our youthfulness, our inexperience – and let’s face it, our arrogance – we did it anyway, thinking we would be the exception to the rule. And we weren’t.
I’ve learned a few things this way – through difficult experience rather than through the wisdom of others. And the truth is while it is not the most efficient and most useful way to learn, lessons learned through experience never leave you, and leave the deepest convictions in your soul. As such, there are three things I will never do, because I have learned the hard way. I am not going to share too much details about the situations, but just share the fact that these convictions stem out of difficult mistakes I made and had to face head on.
THREE THINGS I WILL NEVER DO
3. I will never appoint an elder whose spouse is not happy with that appointment. I was advised not to, a very wise mentor and friend, and one of the most experienced church planters and leaders I know told me not to. But I did. And it almost split the church in two. All the warning signs were there, but in my zeal I ignored them. But through that experience, I am now very cautious in appointing leaders. Of course, you will never find the perfect leader – but if their own husband or wife are not happy with them taking the role, and you appoint them, you are asking for trouble. That’s just a fact!
2. I will never permit someone to preach who doesn’t respect my vision and the vision of Tree of Life Church. That’s just a fact – you cannot let someone into your pulpit who thinks you are doing something wrong by planting the church and holding the church. This goes for worship leaders as well. You are better off with a CD player or MP3 player than having a worship leader – no matter how talented – who doesn’t believe in your vision. I have let people lead worship and preach to encourage them, because live worship is important to me and my values, to help raise a crowd. All of it is in vain if the person disagrees with the vision. That disagreement will come out from their leading and their being at the front, and you can’t argue with it that well with others because you put them in the front. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I am never making that mistake again.
1. I will never compromise what I believe to satiate a carnal request. A lot of Christians are carnal. They make their decisions purely based on the flesh. One lady came to us in the early days and told us our opening declarations were witchcraft. I knew they weren’t, but I seriously considered stopping them just to make her more comfortable in the church. Now there is nothing wrong with changing things in a church to make people feel more comfortable – but the declarations are a core part of our vision and values as a church. I never did stop them and the lady left, but I have hundreds of testimonies of people who have been healed, delivered, encouraged, inspired due to those declarations. Some times you just got to do what you got to do.