You are ready to try something new. Something radical. Maybe you are inspired by someone else’s fresh but unexpected expression of ministry. Or, maybe you are feeling a tug towards something you’ve never seen done.
When we hear or see something unexpected, it’s usually a good idea to process that experience with others. Did you hear/see that too? What do you think about X?
We’ve all seen the consequences of what can happen when they’re not in place.
It is an amazing thing to be a part of a fresh move of the Holy Spirit. You should seek it and be open to it. If God has given you a vision for something new and unexpected—you should absolutely obey.
As God said in Jeremiah 29:13: You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Leaders need to come with open ears, open eyes, and open hearts—and stand together in a posture of readiness to hear from God.
Consider these questions with regard to discernment in your church body:
- How are we being open to discernment?
- What vision is God giving us as a church today?
- How can we best confer with one other to confirm what we are hearing?
- How do we cooperate with what God is doing?
- What steps of faith do we need to take?
Building Accountable Relationships
However, stepping out in faith is also a time that is ripe for spiritual attack and personal moral failure. We’ve seen it time and again. Leaders who step out in faith, see their ministry thrive for a season (or two or three) only for it all to come crashing down. When a leader falls, the ripple effect runs deep and far and wide.
This is one of the reasons that I am an advocate of an accountable leadership model. Checks and balances are critical for senior leaders. Here are 5 accountable relationships you need to develop, nurture, and submit to:
1. Your Spouse
If you are married, there is nowhere to hide. Your spouse has a vested interest in you and your success. Always talk over your ideas and vision with your spouse. Pray over it together. And listen to their thoughts and feelings on the situation. No one is more likely to tell you like it is than your spouse.
That is, if you have nurtured honest and open communication. Marriages are often a casualty of leadership. Invest in dating your spouse, developing hobbies together, friendships with other couples, counseling, marriage retreats or intensives. Do what you need to do to strengthen your relationship with your spouse.
2. Your Board
Within the church, we must confer together. Discernment is not a solo thing, but a team endeavor. When God is at work, he is often at work within multiple people toward the same end. Often discernment, change, and decision-making involve dialogue with others. We see numerous examples of this in scripture. Peter and Cornelius both received visions from God about reaching the Gentiles and then were brought together by God to compare notes in a meeting that would never have happened under normal circumstances. After Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus, God sent a vision to Ananias to go to him—something Ananias was quite reluctant to do on his own. Time and again we have new works of God confirmed by multiple people.
Your board or elders are a critical part of the discernment process. Fill your board with people of faith and integrity who will always have your back. Having your back does not mean always agreeing with you. Your board should be able to ask hard questions and say to no—and you should have such respect for them that you will listen. If your board doesn’t operate this way you are in trouble already.
3. Your Congregation
When God seems to be doing something new and/or unexpected, the church’s response should be “trust but verify” (or proceed with caution). There’s not an instant belief in everything. But there’s also not an instant rejection of everything. Rather, people confer together to gain other perspectives and experiences and testimonies. People have a seriously hard time with change—especially when it’s about something they have tied their identity to. Rather than feeling threatened when people challenge you, be open to God speaking through them.
Don’t fall into the trap of using people to get your vision accomplished. Rather, collaborate with others to hear what God may have for them, and empower others toward that end. And sometimes–when it’s something God really wants to do–some of those visions may dovetail with your own and you’ll get confirmation and help toward what God is calling you toward.
4. Your Community
If God is giving you a vision, he’s likely preparing others with that same vision. The Kingdom of God is big… and ever-expanding. It takes more than one calling, more than one vision, more than one leader to accomplish all God has in mind. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re the only one receiving vision from God. By listening together with others, you’ll see a much bigger picture.. including where your own calling fits in.
Establish relationships with other ministry leaders in your denomination or network and in your community. These can be great sources of encouragement and accountability.
5. Your Coach
Coaching is a critical piece to accomplishing your vision. A coach comes alongside you to help you refine goals and objectives, determine the support you will need, find resources, and take the next best steps.
If you don’t already have a coach, let’s talk! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a complimentary appointment to learn more about how coaching can help you in your context.
The Biblical Basis for Coaching– Coaches come alongside to help, just as Barnabas came alongside Paul, and then Paul came alongside Timothy and others. By encouraging and challenging others, coaches empower them for ministry. This FREE downloadable article examines several pertinent scripture passages as it examines the ways in which coaching aligns with biblical principles.