I have written previously about my Grandfather and my Father. They both have influenced my life greatly. Through my adult life I have had many mentors, friends, leaders, and pastors in my life that have all contributed to my life in one way or the other.
About 15 or 16 years ago I met a man who really helped me. I was a Senior Pastor at a very young age and needed help. I had gone through some difficult circumstances, and the organization I was with just wasn’t there for me. Not because they were bad, or because they were less than anyone else,but the truth was the leadership issues I was dealing with at the time, no one had ever trained them how to effectively deal with them either, so its not that they were bad leaders, they just weren’t equipped, and I, by no means was either.
I was in the middle of transition, and I came across something called Youth America. When I experienced it, I said to myself this is what youth ministry should be. So, long story short, I met the man who was the leader of Youth America, he was also the Pastor of Church of the Harvest. A great church in OKC. Through a series of events we became acquaintances, then friends, and I ask him to be my mentor. To make a long story even shorter I ended up working with him as his associate, and to this point I am still here. This is my 13th year with Church of the Harvest, and with Pastor Kirk Pankratz. http://www.harvestokc.com. We’ve learned so much from he and Nancy his wife. We’ve had great leaders come through our church and I’ve learned from them, as well. He’s always learning and reading and meeting new people to help him grow, and I’ve learned from them myself and through his teaching our staff the things he’s learned from other people. However there are some things that I’ve learned from him, that are a part of his Charecter, part of who he is. Those are the things I want to share with you.
#1. Never be intimidated to go after relationships with people who are farther down the rode than you are.
He’s been an example to me and has taught me how to build relationships with people who can build me as a person, as a pastor, and cause me to reach higher and farther. Many leaders cary such insecurity that they blow successful leaders up in their minds, completely out of proportion, and fail to realize they are people just like you and I. We should do our best to learn from them, and grow, and not to be intimidated to try to get to know them. It may be reading their books, it may be going to their conferences, meeting them, inviting them to our church, and see where it goes, but the idea is, those relationships are important to our growth.
#2. You can learn from anyone.
He has taught me that everyone has something to teach us. They can teach us how to do things or how not to do things, but everyone has something they can teach us. There is no room in the body of Christ for looking down our noses at people who have “not gone as far as we have” we can learn from them as well, and different people can teach you different things. One pastor may be able to teach us how to really care about people, while another could teach us how to develop systems that produce growth. Our kids can even teach us if we will listen.
#3. Always assume the best first.
Be patient, don’t always assume the negative. Assume that people do want to do right. Assume that they are doing their best. Assume that they do care. Don’ immediately assume they have an ulterior motive, or are trying to hurt you. As a result of this teaching it led me to have this thought. There is always a story. So much of the time when something negative happens we immediately begin to judge, and assume without knowing all the facts. However the longer I live and the more I lead, I realize in most people’s lives we would judge, there’s a story. Its the idea that you can’t judge somone until you have walked in their shoes. We don’t know for sure how we would respond to something if we haven’t gone through it. I’m not talking about making excuses for people, but assuming the best first until the facts prove other wise. Example, when you hear something negative about another Christian, is your first response to judge and criticize or is it to say, there is no way, that happened?
#4. Persistence is one of the key components to success.
He has taught me to look at the greatest odds and say, God is with us, and we can do this. Then proceed to walk through it until it is done. Just set your face like flint, and believe in what God has asked you to do. The only real way to get others to believe in your vision is to so completely believe it that you will walk through hell and back to achieve it. There is no problem to big to stop what God wants us to do, and we have to be totally resolved about it.
#5. People don’t follow who they believe in, they follow who believe in them.
So much of our time as leaders is spent trying to get our followers to own the vision. Trying to get people to live for the cause, to face all the odds, to move forward, not back or set still. So much of the time our techniques point to us. They can be selfishly motivated. Its as if we are standing there begging people, “believe in me, believe in me.” The way to achieve that however is to sincerely, authentically believe in them. Belive in their heart, their loyalty, their gifts, and their desire to do what’s right. Show them that you believe in them, let them be a part of the process. Don’t put them down, don’t treat them like dumb sheep wandering around without a brain, but believe in them, and let them know it. Why would we expect someone to serve our vision, and not respect them. Believe in people and they will follow you to the ends of the earth to accomplish your goals.
I am sure there are many more, but those are the things that stand out to me, that he has taught me. This is the final blog in this series. Realize today, you are not an original, you are the collective input, and impartation of leaders who have gone before you and influenced you. In all our ideas, in all our plans, in all our goals, and successes, the best way to stay humble is to remember, this didn’t start with us. Thank God for mentors, fathers, family in our lives who have made us what we are today.