Reading culture by reading Taylor: Three takeaways from "Our Secular Age"

Charles Taylor’s “A Secular Age” is widely considered the most helpful analysis on how we have come to live in our current cultural climate. Using intellectual history, Taylor, a Catholic and distinguished Canadian philosopher (Emeritus, McGill University), has written a tome of just over 900 pages, dense with the history and effects of modernity and lack of belief in our current time.

I guess it should be said that this point: I’ve never read it. Before you click back to Facebook and the newest Fail Army video you’re dying to watch, give me a few more moments.

I have read Taylor’s precursor, “Sources of the Self – The Making of the Modern Identity” (1983) which took me almost 8 months to get through. This book traces how we have gone inside of ourselves, instead of outside, to find the moral good. Many themes in “Sources of the Self” are picked up and developed further in “A Secular Age.”

In celebration of the 10-year anniversary of the release of A Secular Age, The Gospel Coalition released “Our Secular Age: Ten Years of Reading and Applying Charles Taylor.” It is an edited work reflecting on Taylor’s philosophy in different areas (politics, preaching etc.).

This, I have also read (the 159 pages was a little easier to work through).

It is vital to any Christian leader to learn how to read Scripture, but at the same time be able to read culture well. Taylor offers the latter.

As I have read Taylor, he has enabled me to read culture. With my interaction, with his thinking, how would I distill it?

Here are three major themes present in A Secular Age:

1. Malaise of Modernity
One of the benefits of our culture is the freedom it offers. The chief end of my existence is my own flourishing, and I am allowed to define what that means. There is boundless liberty in designing my existence.

However, with this freedom comes a sense of “missing something, being cut off from something, like that we are living behind a screen.”

Taylor submits that we feel this “malaise” in three ways:
• We struggle to find purpose and meaning in our lives. The question “is my life going somewhere?” seems daunting and impossible to answer definitively.
• The big moments of life seem to “heighten” the malaise. How do we understand births, marriages, and deaths now that they are cut off from their transcendent origins? We try to sneak transcendence in the back door of a worldview that has firmly slammed the door shut.

[bctt tweet="We try to sneak transcendence in the back door of a worldview that has firmly slammed the door shut." username="christhroness"]

• There seems to be a drudgery in the everyday moments of life as the cycle of desire and consuming never stops. Now that we are stuck in this immanent frame, where do we go to fulfill our transcendent appetite?

The immanent frame is defined by mechanistic naturalism – or the idea that there is a physical explanation for everything.

Mike Cosper, a contributor in Our Secular Age, describes effects of the immanent frame like a dome. Inside the dome is the secular environment we all live; outside the dome is transcendence. Trapped inside this dome we bump up against the ceiling of it, wanting to break through, but inevitably find ourselves back in naturalism.

2. Age of Authenticity
My wife, Krista, and I have a guilty pleasure: the reality television show The Voice. We noticed that in every episode the coaches encourage their team to “be who they are” and to ensure that they stay true to this. This same instruction is championed in our culture no matter where you are and anything or anyone who opposes this mindset should be shunned.

A key idea in the work is how our culture prizes “expressive individualism.” What matters most is that you honour your authentic self. This means that our “modern secular age disciples our hearts to be true to ourselves, to reject all outside institutions.”

Taylor describes it this way:
Each one of us has his/her own way of realizing our humanity, and that it’s important to find and live out one’s own, as against surrendering to conformity with a model imposed on us from outside, by society, or the previous generation, or religious or political authority.

This concept leads people to prize autonomy and freedom over all other ethics. You see, to conform to anything outside yourself is not to live authentically to who you actually are.

This is problematic for historic Christianity as it places the authority not on the inner desires, but on God’s directives. Here is the difference: “The authentic self says, ‘This is me; you must accept me as I am.’ The vulnerable self says, ‘This is me; take me and transform me.’”

Christ invites us to go outside of ourselves for meaning and significance to find who we truly are. The idea that we are God’s creation means that we should seek His wisdom for our lives.

[bctt tweet="Christ invites us to go outside of ourselves for meaning and significance to find who we truly are. The idea that we are God’s creation means that we should seek His wisdom for our lives. " username="christhroness"]

I see a few problems with this idea of the authentic self:
• The idea that we can just be who we are, removed from any community or outside influence is arrogant and misguided. We are the product of more forces than just ourselves. This is why we have (the sometimes dreaded) speeches at wedding receptions; they remind everyone that the couple has been dramatically shaped by others.
• We are too fickle and change too often to be able to trust ourselves. We always think that our previous selves were a bit ignorant and out of touch. We don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. Don’t believe me? Grab a high school yearbook and look at your haircut. Most of us would confess, “What was I thinking?!”

[bctt tweet="We don’t know ourselves as well as we think we do. Don’t believe me? Grab a high school yearbook and look at your haircut. Most of us would confess, “What was I thinking?!”" username="christhroness"]

3. Buffered vs. the porous self
The basic difference between a buffered self of the modern age and porous self of earlier eras is the question of vulnerability. In previous centuries, it was assumed that we were vulnerable to spirits, both evil and good, and could be affected by the ‘presence’ of something beyond the human and physical.

This has been all but forgotten in our secular age.

The porous self-believed in a soul that needed connection with a higher reality or story. The buffered self now is self-contained. Whereas historic Christianity sees meaning, morality and satisfaction come from outside the self, the buffered self “seeks all of that from within.”

Additionally, this venture into ourselves has dramatically reshaped our view of God’s place in our lives. His role has changed from Sovereign Creator to cosmic butler – out to serve our flourishing. As we have closed ourselves off from outside forces, the highest good seems to be in the prosperity of self (as is the outcome of our age of authenticity).

No one is immune to viewing God as a cosmic butler. Interestingly this cultural position, prized and inherited in the West, informs Christians as much as it does non-Christians.

As Collin Hansen frames it, “A key theological question for our secular age is: Does God get to be God? The answer for many self-described Christians is, ‘No, only on our terms.’”

Fish in the Fishtank
The story goes that two fish are swimming along and meet an older fish swimming the other way. As they pass, the older fish asks, “Hey boys, how’s the water?"

The two fish keep swimming along until one finally says, “What the heck is water?”

The water that we swim and live in is defined by A Secular Age. You may or may not realize it, but we are saturated and influenced by our culture and Taylor puts words to this experience. This is true whether you consider yourself a believer in Jesus or not.

This may mean that you unknowingly feel the malaise yourself: endless cycles of desire and consumption and through all of it, the weighty question of, “what is this all for?”

Or it could mean that these realities have deeply influenced your view of God. Instead of God being out for God and His glory, He is instead a cosmic butler who is simply there to serve your needs. A cosmic butler is not a god to be feared, rather one to be ordered around.

[bctt tweet="A cosmic butler is not a god to be feared, rather one to be ordered around." username="christhroness"]

Where to from here?
The malaise of modernity, the age of authenticity and the buffered self, although presenting noted challenges, offers some hope for the reception of the Christian message.

1. The starting assumption of our culture is that we don’t know who we are. Why is that? Why do we need to “find ourselves”? It is because we know that there is something incomplete within us. We know that we are a little lost and need something to help us find our way.

However, it is not that we need something, but Someone. When our lives are found in Christ, we find the source of our life and then come to understand who we actually are.

2. As Taylor notes, the shift in our age is not a declining belief in God or a dilution of ethical commitments, but “lies in our definition of ‘fullness.’”

As we continue to bump into the ceiling of the immanent frame, our culture will unconsciously become hungry for an answer that satisfies, that fills their innermost desire for meaning, purpose, and transcendence. Self-sufficient humanism will leave us, and the wider culture, wanting.

It is in the bankruptcy of this worldview that the gospel message will find a new home for people who have obtained everything and yet are more unsatisfied than ever.

[bctt tweet="Self-sufficient humanism will leave us, and the wider culture, wanting. It is in the bankruptcy of this worldview that the gospel message will find a new home for people who have obtained everything and yet are more unsatisfied than ever." username="christhroness"]

So what?
I think Saint Augustine helps us as we move forward.

He famously said in his Confessions, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you.” A life without God leaves you as the arbiter of meaning and purpose. This is the way of naturalism and of our culture. Jesus offers a better, more satisfying and more fulfilling life.

And it seems as our culture continues to move further away from God, the hearts of people will feel this more than ever.

To buy Our Secular Age, click here.

To buy A Secular Age, click here.

To buy Sources of the Self, click here.

So you want to be a senior church leader? 4 things you need to cultivate now

I'll never forget the walk with my Lead Pastor. It was the Winter of 2014 and there was some transition in our team. During this walk, my Lead Pastor asked me to take the role of Executive Pastor.

I was terrified.

I had been serving Young Adults for 4 years in a dynamic and effective ministry. We were seeing young adults come to Christ and producing content that was helping millennials across our region. It was a great gig and a dynamic season of ministry.

The prospect of stepping into a senior leadership role was daunting. I had little knowledge of what an Executive Pastor actually did, but I felt that it was another way to serve our church and gain some experience along the way.

There was an immediate step up in responsibility, expectations, and influence. After three years, I have learned some lessons in this role that I would not have learned in any other. It has come with some painful failures and a few victories as well.

If I was to sit down with me 4 years ago, how would I coach myself? What would I tell myself to cultivate, develop and practice?

Here are 4 things you can do now that will prepare you for then:

1. Self-awareness
This is what differentiates good leaders from great leaders.

Self-awareness is the ability to know yourself well enough to put yourself in places where your gifts are most clearly expressed.

[bctt tweet="Self-awareness is the ability to know yourself well enough to put yourself in places where your gifts are most clearly expressed." username="christhroness"]

In this way, self-awareness allows you to say “no” to some opportunities and “yes” to others.

Self-awareness is cultivated. It demands that you become a student of you.

For example, you start to notice when your heart starts to beat fast as your passion increases over a certain initiative. You also notice when you feel the energy draining out of you put data into an Excel spreadsheet.

How can you do this now?

o Take advantage of personality tests. These are a great tool to help diagnose the places and spaces where you flourish.

o Take advantage of community. Great friends are ones who are brave enough to give you feedback on your strengths and weaknesses.

o Take advantage of your current opportunity. The best way to understand you is simply by being faithful to what you are called to. Don’t underestimate how God is preparing you for the future with the opportunities you are given today.

2. Passion with margin
A key attribute I always look for in new hires is passion. If you don’t have it you won’t. Passion cannot be manufactured – it is innate.

Yet lots of rookie leaders don’t know how to manage passion. They are like a fire hose open and on full blast. While the immediate impact is seen, no long-term fruit occurs.

This is why passion with margin is so important.

I have learned from my colleagues in this area. I have seen them manage themselves throughout the 8 years I have served at CA Church. They know when they can work hard, and when to rest.

Younger leaders (like myself) struggle with this. In the last three years, there have been a few times where I have red-lined my life. My soul and schedule were packed full and had no room for things that gave me life.

How do you do this?
o Regular days off – Sabbath is a gift AND a command. Turn the screen off, go for a walk and pray.
o Healthy devotional life – the Bible is for you as much as it is for them.
o Serving in your area of passion – make sure your heart beats for your area of ministry.
o Living your own story - don’t try to be someone you’re not.
o Managing your calendar – you will either manage it or it will manage you.

Be passionate as all great leaders are, but to have a lasting impact you need to put margin in to ensure long-term health.

3. Ability to identify and develop people
It’s painful but true: the leader is often the lid.

This means that the ministry and its impact will only go as far as you if you cannot identify and build up people who own the mission as much as you.

This is hard for a few reasons as it means:
o that you will not always be the hero with the microphone
o that ministry will most often move slower than what you want as developing people is an unhurried game
o that you will have to give credit more than receive it
o that you will have to train people to love Jesus and develop leadership skills
o that you won’t always get your way as you yield to other people’s dreams and gifts

While this is all true, being on a team is the desire of every great leader because they realize that the Bible was on to something when it talked about the body of Christ. That together we can do more than as individuals.

So, start building a bench today. Spend time with those people who may not have the skills yet, but are hungry to learn. Identify those people who seem to naturally take ownership of a room. Learn how to give effective feedback. Give ample encouragement to the insecure first-timer. All of these skills will help you move the mission forward.

Teamwork really does make the dream work. If you can learn how to build leaders today, it will help you lead a movement tomorrow.

[bctt tweet="Teamwork really does make the dream work. If you can learn how to build leaders today, it will help you lead a movement tomorrow. " username="christhroness"]

4. Theological convictions for ministry
You have to make a decision at some point in your ministry. I’d recommend doing making it early.

The decision is: where will you get your marching orders on how you will do ministry?

There are lots of great books with good advice. But the Bible should be the basis for all we do in the local church.

If I were to sit down with myself 5 years ago, I would coach myself to articulate Biblical convictions for ministry. There will be temptations to take shortcuts and to rely on pragmatic gimmicks rather than Scripture.

The last three years haven’t changed my frameworks, but I have had to articulate them and use them as a filter as I make decisions.

For example, here are a few of my convictions:
o Process over progress – This means that the way we do ministry matters just as much as the outcomes of ministry. Character short-cuts simply won’t do. The Lord should be honored in all aspects of our ministry, from beginning to end.
o Priority of preaching – I believe that the preaching of the Word is the highest point of a Sunday morning gathering. Therefore, I commit to preaching the Bible instead of preaching from it.

Without these convictions articulated the struggle will be to emulate the model that the church down the road is using or change your church based on the last church leadership book you read.

The Bible must be the basis.

Looking ahead
This is a humbling post to write as I know I will look back 5 to 10 years from now shaking my head. The fact is that we always look back and think our previous selves were a bit ignorant and underprepared.

But this is why we have and swim in God’s abundant grace.

Take it from me if you implement the four lessons above, you will not only change your current situation, but the future of the church will be greatly impacted.

And that is the reason I write.

Redeeming Technology: 2 Apps I couldn't do without

When the wi-fi cuts out at our church, we all seem to be lost.

It is amazing to see how dependent we are on technology. This is vastly different than the world that my Grandfather worked in.

Can you imagine having to write out every single word in your sermon, every single week? Or having to actually pick up the phone to discuss a minor detail with a key volunteer in your church? Or having to worry about putting files away? I can’t.

The fact is that the world in which I pastor is extremely different than my Dad’s generation and enormously different than my Grandfathers.

While I think there are many lessons to learn from previous generations of church leaders, I am grateful to be able to do ministry in technologically advanced society as it enables me to process information, build leaders and stay organized.

With that in mind, here are two apps that I simply couldn’t do ministry without:

1. Evernote
Evernote allows you to “get smarter, work smarter and remember everything.” It’s true. It is a cloud-based personal organizer for all of your ideas and notes.

Specifically, it helps me in ministry by:

o Being able to rip online articles and file them according to topic
I have over 600 articles that I have read over the past 6 years on my Evernote. I often go back to this database of articles to read and re-read articles that can spark ideas and eventually find their way into conversations, leadership development and preaching.

o Organizing all of my academic notes
I never opened one Word document to take notes throughout my Master’s degree. I had all of my classes as different notebooks and organized each lecture in those notebooks. It was easy to search by keyword or phrase to bring up something I wanted to research again.

o Saving sermon illustrations
I have a “Sermon Illustration” file that currently has 133 personal anecdotes and thoughtful quotes and stories. Using the “tag” feature, I can easily look up “grace” or “sovereignty” to see if I have corresponding illustrations that help me put together sermons that speak to the heart.

o Edit and save PDF’s
In the Premium version I have, I am able to take PDF’s, edit and save them. This is a great feature as I go over contracts, read theological journal articles or want to edit a colleague’s work.

I know that there are features that I have not even begun to use, and yet this is an app that I use every day.

You can download Evernote for free from the app stores, and obtain the Premium at a yearly cost of 59.99.

2. Things
Things is my personal assistant. I don’t know what I would do without it. What does it do? It is a task management app that manages every part of my life.

Here are the features I enjoy the most:

o It syncs with all of my Apple devices. This is handy when you think of something to do when you’re not around your computer.

o It is compatible with Siri, so she can jot down reminders for you while you drive

o You can program repeating tasks for those weekly must do's

o You organize tasks by project

o It syncs with your calendar, so you can see not only the tasks you are supposed to complete that day but also your entire calendar

o You can program shortcuts to navigate around the app and add a task item easily and efficiently

This is how important it is: Things is one of the mechanisms I have in my life to keep me healthy. I have repeating “to do’s” that remind me to take care of my family, and myself.

For instance, every Friday I have a task that says, “Plan the next 14 days.” This prompts me to take 5 minutes to plan a date night with Krista, a prayer day away from the office to refocus and get ahead of my schedule to have a sustainable rhythm of work and rest.

At first glance, Things it is a steep price to pay. But to have it run your life, $60 is not that much. Think of how much you would pay someone to keep you organized, healthy, ahead of your schedule and productive. In the end, the return on investment is worth it.

What’s next?
In our fast-paced tech world, it is easy to get lost, waste time and check out. Technology can be a giant burden and a waste of time.

But these two resources help me do the opposite: plan my life, keep me healthy, lead and love my family and serve the church.

And those things I want excel at.

5 Ways to Lead Millennial Church Leaders

Millennials are a hot topic right now.

Leadership expert, Simon Sinek’s video “Millennials in the workplace” has 7.8 million views on YouTube.

You either hear praise of their innovative and entrepreneurial skills, or of their poor work ethic and entitled attitude.

Both I think are right to some degree. But overall I think that millennials receive a bad wrap. While there are some glaring weaknesses, they have grown up in a unique world that has developed unique skills and perspectives.

I have worked extensively with millennials. I led a large young adult ministry for 4 years. Our mission was to engage and disciple millennials. I was surrounded by them - almost 200 every Sunday night! I now lead a staff team that has 18 millennials on it. This means that over 50% of our staff team were born between 1982-2002.

To add to all of this: I am a millennial myself.

So I get them. I am one. I lead them. I listen to them. I work with them. I am passionate about them. I believe in them.

So as I have been leading millennials, here is how to lead them well: 

  1. Give them flexibility with their schedules

Gone are the days of the stereotypical 9-5 church job. Varying weekly schedules (youth nights, different service schedules) don’t allow a blanket expectation that you are to be shackled to a desk. In my experience, millennials value flexibility over wage.

Don’t get me wrong, we are clear about 40+ hour work weeks and ask that all staff are working hard and passionately in their area. But in the midst of all different types of schedules, flexibility is key.

Instead of bringing out the handcuffs and policy manual, you need to be flexible with millennials. Understand their weekly schedule and rhythm and make their schedule fit into it.

I hear the pushback: won’t this allow them to take advantage of the arrangement and work less than they should?

I would argue that if you are worried about a staff member working as little as possible and taking advantage of your generosity, you need to re-visit your hiring process as they shouldn’t be on your team in the first place.

  1. Give them a voice and influence

When I started working at my church, it took all of 2 weeks to have the ear of my Lead Pastor. I was a new and I had a desire to influence, to be listened to and built into. His availability and initiative started an amazing mentorship. He took time to listen and coach me and has had the most impact on my ministry and leadership than anyone else.

I have been able to model this to the young leaders on our team. There is space on virtually every team for millennials. I have fought to give them opportunities to lead the wider team (not just their ministry) and influence the direction of our church. This means that they have spoken to our vision, strategic plan, new hires, capital projects, and church-wide events.

Of course, the foundation of all of this is trust. Tasha, a millennial leader on our staff team said, “For me to flourish in a church leadership role I need trust from older leadership.” It’s pretty simple.

If you desire to attract millennials to your church, you must get millennials to lead at all levels in your church.

[bctt tweet="If you desire to attract millennials to your church, you must get millennials to lead at all levels in your church." username="christhroness"]

  1. Give them clear boundaries 

I know this is leadership 101, but you have to be reminded about this again. The source of almost all resentment in church staff situations is unclear expectations. So how do you fight against this resentment? Clear expectations. This is important with every person on your team but is most important to this generation.

I have found that if you are explicitly clear with millennials they are a joy to work with. As long as they know the parameters of the sandbox you have asked them to work and play in, they will flourish and so will your church.

  1. Give them space to dream 

Last winter one of our millennial leaders approached me with an idea to host an outdoor church service. Our city had just built a new amphitheater - a perfect place for a few thousand people to gather. I was skeptical but heard him out and gave him some things to do and research.

The long story short: Church at the Lake was one of the best attended and momentum gaining events in recent memory for CA Church. We had over 2000 people attend, 5 people accept Jesus as Lord and baptized 6 people. This would never have happened if I would have rolled my eyes, lead with fear and stonewalled the idea by putting up red tape. There are young leaders in your church who have equally as crazy (and effective) ideas.

They just need to be asked and empowered.

  1. Give them an engaging culture to work in 

I admit it -  you very well could exchange “engaging” with “fun” but I didn’t want to perpetuate the millennial stereotype.

But let’s just say you had the option to work at Church A: known for it’s demanding and stagnant environment. Or at Church B: known for its fun, engaging and forward-thinking culture. Which one would you pick? It seems clear to me.

What this has meant for our team is that we work together, but also play together. We intentionally craft engaging environments and activities for our team to experience both during work hours and after hour events. This builds unity, clarity, and momentum for the team and for the mission as we work together.

This is one of the reasons why we have obtained a “Best Christian Workplaces” status from the Best Christian Workplaces Institute two years in a row.

A great question to ask yourself: would you want to work at your church? If not, then maybe some changes are needed.

[bctt tweet="Would you want to work at your church? If not, then maybe some changes are needed." username="christhroness"]

So what? 

The first step forward is to change the (your) narrative around millennials. Of course, there are complaints - remember 50% of our staff are millennials - but you would be better served to engage, equip and develop these leaders.

They are the leaders who will take over the Church next, so let’s do whatever we can to lead them well.

Conflict or Coasting? 3 Situations where you need to initiate conflict

The Reality of Conflict

Everyone is a little bit scared of conflict.

Even the bravest, outfitted with a personality that fights instead of flights when completely transparent do not enjoy conflict. Sure, it may be a given that conflict can and will happen (even within the healthiest teams), but no one truly likes conflict. These types of leaders know that conflict is a regular part of leadership, but if they are honest it keeps them up at night and they wish it was someone else’s problem to solve.

Others hear the word “conflict" and want to melt into a puddle and somehow escape the room. For them, harmony is what matters most. So they will internalize, minimize, dilute or completely avoid it.  These types of leaders will eventually have to quit running from their fear if they ever want to break through to the next level of leadership and impact.

So whether your one that tolerates or is terrified of conflict, we can all agree that it is icky, keeps us up at night and we wish it was someone else’s problem.

The Reality of Leadership

What separates good leaders from great leaders is not just the ability to navigate conflict, but they actually initiate it.

[bctt tweet="What separates good leaders from great leaders is not just the ability to navigate conflict, but they actually initiate it.." username="christhroness"]

A key component of leadership is bringing a group of people from one place to the next; it is wrestling with the reality of the present, and being able to bring this organization/group of people to the desired future. It is about seeing where things need to go and the ability to strategically bring them there - winsomely and intentionally.

To add to this, the default trajectory of any team is not toward progress but comfort. The senior leader(s) must always be providing clarity, championing the future and wisely driving the team towards it.

It is clear that great leaders know that conflict is not to be simply tolerated, but initiated.

So when should this happen? I see three key situations where you need to initiate conflict.

3 Situations where you need to initiate conflict

1. When the mission has stalled out

Stalling out is not a fun place to be. No one wants to be the person on the side of the road with their hood up, smoke billowing out of the engine, waiting for help. Unfortunately, this is where some of our churches are.

Stalling out means that the dashboard metrics have plateaued and the morale on the team is waning. It means that people have lost interest and your mission is an afterthought to most people - even the ones on your staff. Simply put, people have forgotten and don’t really care anymore.

I get it. It can be easy to put your leadership in neutral. In fact, sometimes it is the most attractive thing to do. But it simply can’t happen. As we all know but don’t want to admit: “I am the lid.” Instead of being passive, we need to step up and initiate conflict.

The enemy of progress (and leadership) is passivity. When a leader starts to idle and disengages, the march towards the desired future stalls out. Not only does this affect the team, but ultimately the mission of the church. This is the time when conflict should not just be avoided but initiated.

Difficult conversations need to happen at all levels of the team - no one is untouchable.

Remember, the mission matters.

2. When you know there is more

Good leaders are only able to see what is happening now. Great leaders are always striving for more; more from themselves and more from their team.

These types of great leaders have been influential in my life. These were the people that God put into my life, at the right time, to speak encouragement to me, but also to challenge me to be more. They could see something I wasn’t: a future me that is closer to Jesus, more reliant on His Word, more engaged in the mission and more aware of how God could use me. Without those leaders I am not sure where I would be.

It’s pretty simple: change doesn’t happen unless conflict happens. There has to be a moment where you sit someone down and cast vision for their lives that they don’t see. To lean in on areas of concern or to shed light on a blind spot they are not seeing. This isn’t just the role of leaders and mentors, but a command given to the body of Christ as we are in community together.

[bctt tweet="Good leaders are only able to see what is happening now. Great leaders are always striving for more; more from themselves and more from their team." username="christhroness"]

3. When you know there is unsettled conflict on your team

Working in a church is difficult as we navigate being “brothers and sisters in Christ” as well as co-workers, bosses, team leaders and direct supervisors. These titles confuse and complicate relationships. Situations are not cut and dry as we feel internally the tension of being the family of God together, and the potential occasion where you could be fired!

Yet every team experiences conflict. The myth is that because we all love Jesus that we won’t bump into each other. If you don’t work in a church and buy into this idea, you couldn’t be more wrong! As the team grows bigger, as ministries are deployed out from your leadership, it is inevitable that people will expect too much, work too little, over promise, under-deliver and will let each other down.

A great leader understands this and does whatever she can to weed it out of the team. Good leaders buy into the lie that a minor conflict won’t cause a major rift. Great leaders understand that this unhealthy pattern in their team must be curbed. Over time unsettled conflicts eats away at the foundation of trust in the team.

So what can you do? At least once a year, you need to provide space for your team to purge - to get things off their chest. Of course, you hope that conflict is dealt with immediately and interpersonally, but often it doesn’t.

Our Lead Pastor and I provide this opportunity. Believe me, it is awkward and strange. Yet, we want to model that conflict is normal, Jesus forgives and the unity and health of our team matters. After a while, the team will understand this is an important mechanism as it uproots the toxic unsettled conflict on your team.

If you know that this happening, it may be time for you to set up a meeting and combat the cancer of unsettled conflict.

It's time for action

So where do you need to initiate conflict today?

Has your mission stalled out? Is there unresolved conflict on your team? Can you identify a leader right now who needs a crucial conversation?

Today is the day where you take action: pick up the phone or schedule a meeting.

You’ll be glad you did.

So will the people you lead.