Church planting and ministry in general is so demanding that at times you feel like you’re barely able to keep up. Between preparing messages, responding to electronic communications of various kinds, attending meetings, and trying to spend a little time with your family it can all seem out of control.
So given that reality let me pose a question that may seem unfair to you: What are you doing to make sure that you’re continuing to grow personally? It’s an important question. After all, the church you lead cannot grow beyond you. So, if you’re not growing, neither can your church. That’s why healthy leaders are committed to personal growth.
Where does personal growth come from? It comes from learning. Healthy leaders are learners. The moment you quit learning you quit leading.
The problem is that most of us are trained to depend on others for our learning. Our education is generally based on walking into a classroom where we are handed a package of learning that’s typically delivered through a text book and lectures from a teacher. It’s an adequate system, but it leaves us unprepared to keep learning once we’re out of the classroom and into the real world. As a result, many leaders quit learning because they don’t know how to do it on their own.
So how do you keep learning so that you can continue to grow? Let me offer a simple system.
Pick 4 or 5 subject areas that you need to grow in. For me these days it’s church planting and missions, theology and church history, teaching and education, leadership, and ministry models.
Once you’ve got your areas selected, look around for sources. I recommend that you start with books because they tend to be better developed, use an editing process that creates a quality filter, and remain in print only if they have time tested content. Make use of podcasts, blogs, articles, and other media as well, but I recommend that you make books the foundation of your learning. Book selling websites such as Amazon and Barnes & Noble are set up to help you identify books in your subject areas. You can sort them by publication date, popularity, and even customer reviews (I tend to lean on customer reviews most heavily).
Pick the top couple of titles in each category and download them to your iPad or whatever device you read on and systematically rotate your reading through your subject areas. Over time what you’ll find is that your knowledge and expertise in these areas will grow and you’ll be a more effective leader.
You may not feel like you’ve got time to read, but when it comes to your effectiveness as a leader, you can’t afford not to read.