Take the next couple of minutes and peruse your investment portfolio. How are things going? Is your stock going up or down, or is it stagnant? In your whole portfolio, which is the most important investment you’re making?

Oh, wait. I’ll bet you’re thinking I’m talking about Dow Jones and the S&P 500. Nope. I’m talking about your important investments – the ones that have nothing to do with dollars and cents.

Church leaders make significant investments all the time. In fact, I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about getting the best ROI on your church growth investment. But there’s an even more important investment than pouring your life into your church’s growth… and sadly, most church leaders I know allocate little into this investment.

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Global Leadership Summit with Willow Creek and the event opened with Bill Hybels making the following statement: “When you invest in your own leadership skills, everybody wins.” In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the most important investment you can make is in your own church leadership skills.

I know. There are howls of protests all across the church and I expect the label “Heretic” to get attached to my name (again), but before the brier is lit around the stake, let me clarify. Church leadership skills include every single piece of business and industry training that can possibly be adapted to kingdom work. But church leadership work doesn’t stop there. Great church leaders are about more than business principles … they’re immersed in the faith, in scripture study and reflection, in prayer, in worship, in faith-sharing, and in one-anothering.

But great church leaders do explore, adopt, and adapt every leadership principle they can wrap their minds around. They aren’t just “stuck” in the church box – they know that the greatest thinkers and leaders on earth don’t always find their way to faith, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t some of the greatest thinkers and leaders on earth. So great church leaders read widely. Sure, they read Christianity Today, Leadership Journal, Net Results, and Christian Century. They read Stanley, Jakes, Hybels, Maxwell, Easum, and Warren (a few have even been known to read my stuff). But they also read the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, Leadership Quarterly, USA Today, and their local paper. They read Peters, Collins, Charan, Welch, Myatt, and others. Great church leaders don’t just speak at conferences; they show up and actually attend and listen to the sessions. And great church leaders don’t go alone. They take other leaders with them… not just so they can expose their congregational leaders to good stuff, but so they can bounce around the ideas that have surfaced.

Great church leaders invest in themselves as leaders – and it goes beyond reading and continuing education. Great church leaders invest in themselves by forging relationships with at least one mentor and a personal coach. Too often I’ve heard great intentions from level three leaders, but so many of them are still just level three leaders because they’re all talk. They still don’t have a mentor or a coach and they don’t understand why they can’t move their church past fifty-seven in worship.

So, here’s this week’s hot “stock tip.” If you’re committed to being the best leader God has created you to be, then consider taking on at least one of the following practices this week:

  • Hit the bookstore and buy at least one business leadership magazine. Then read it with a highlighter in hand. If you find some great quotes or have great ideas from what you read, post them in a comment here.
  • Hit the bookstore and buy two copies of at least one business leadership book. Give one copy to the best leader in your congregation or at work and ask them to meet with you the following week to bounce around what you’ve read. Again, we’d love to see what hits you as important.
  • Find at least two top blogs on business leadership (I have several, but your own search will net different and perhaps even better results). Then subscribe to them and read the posts every week – preferably on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Find a great blog? Share the link with us!
  • Sign up for the National Outreach Convention in San Diego, or find a leadership event nearer to you and register.
  • Explore the costs of hiring a church leadership coach. Find a way to afford at least one coaching conversation every month.
  • Find a mentor. If you’re a pastor, find a pastor of a church no more than two barrier steps ahead of you and see if you can make a connection for a monthly conversation.

Question: What are some of your ideas for stepping up your leadership? Share yours in the Comments section below.