One of the most disconcerting practices I find in the church is the near obsession we have with our faults and our weaknesses. I’m not sure who to blame for what amounts to bad theology, but it seems that Augustine, Calvin, Luther, and Wesley may all share some of it. Or perhaps it’s the whole therapeutic model of pastoral care and counseling. Certainly, Christian Schwartz’s Church Health model is a contributor. Regardless, I see Christians, leaders, and churches either expending untold resources to bolster their weaknesses or struggling to turn their weaknesses into strengths.
Don’t get me wrong, weaknesses can hamstring both churches and leaders, but I’ll deal with that particular issue next week. For now, let’s focus on what great leaders and great churches focus on: their strengths.
One of the key reasons churches don’t grow is that they haven’t thought through what they are best at. Instead, they choose to try to be equally excellent at everything in order to reach everybody. The problem with that thinking is that few churches have the resources to be really excellent in more than one or two things, and since they focus on being good at everything, they effectively are at best mediocre at everything they do and in their vain attempts to reach everyone, they reach virtually no one.
It’s the same with most church leaders. Pareto may not have reflected the ideal, but he surely reflected the reality. We tend to spend only 20 percent of our energy on those things that make the most difference, while we twiddle away 80 percent of our time on tasks that accomplish very little. A good part of the reason for that is that most church leaders try to do too much, and much of what they do they simply don’t do well. Let’s face it, someone who’s great at admin may not be the greatest evangelist. By the same token, a charismatic church-growth-focused pastor may not have the pastoral-care compassion gene. What makes either of these a great leader is when they realize their strengths and focus their energy on getting even better within their giftedness.
Churches are the same way. Those churches that know what they do well – maybe better than any other church in the community – and put their resources in that area are those that regularly see significant growth.
So, what are your strengths? What is your key strength? If you’d be the leader or the church God’s gifted you to become you’ll put your eggs and your energies there.
Have you focused your energies on your strengths? Or have you been trying to improve in your areas of weakness? Share the positive and negative effects of your focus (and any other thoughts you may have) in the Comments section below.