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What’s the Difference Between Speaking and Leading?

“Pastor Bob” really knows how to captivate an audience while speaking. People say he’s a “great communicator.” And many people assume that Pastor Bob’s eloquence also means he’s a great leader of his people.

But, actually, when it comes to leadership, Pastor Bob is a train wreck. He may be called the “lead pastor,” but he doesn’t lead. His staff members and volunteers, though they admire his speaking skills, feel detached, misunderstood, unappreciated, under-communicated to, under-supported, and aimless.

Our God-Given Gifts

How can this be? It’s a matter of gifting. Many who are greatly gifted in speaking often seem to lack leadership gifts. (And vice versa.) These two giftings do not share the same characteristics or basic core elements. So it really should be no wonder that the two do not often appear dominantly in the same person.

Those considered gifted speakers are usually highly artistic. They excel in the performance art of public speaking. They’re entertaining, and often inspiring. They instinctively know how to assemble and deliver a spoken message that will captivate an audience.

Those who exhibit great leadership gifts excel in the disciplines of administration, asset allocation, human relations, goal-setting, vision-casting, and problem-solving. They instinctively know how to enlist and empower a team to accomplish great things together.

When it comes to these two gifts, it often seems the more a person is gifted in one, the less they are gifted in the other. And this gift allocation is not limited to ministry settings. Think of those gifted in the performance art of acting. Few of the great actors would make outstanding company leaders. And few great CEOs would excel in a lead role on stage or screen. Often, they’re just not wired that way.

There are exceptions, of course. But, for the vast majority, it’s unrealistic to assume these two gifts get automatically and abundantly bundled into the same person.

Using Different People for Different Roles

So how does a ministry provide great messages and great leadership? Well, training can help. But usually, the situation calls for the realization that different roles require different people. In many churches that means the main speaker/preacher needs to acknowledge a deficiency in leadership disciplines, and allow others to provide leadership service.

That may require some serious self-examination. Look for natural tendencies. For example, good leaders:

  • Select staff whose expertise exceeds the leader’s expertise.
  • Meet regularly (weekly) with staff members to support, encourage, evaluate, and coach.
  • Listen to the staff’s personal concerns and pray with them.
  • Generously give away responsibility and power to others.
  • Promptly address staff performance issues, individually, face to face (even if that’s via a video call), and with tact and love.
  • Clearly and simply communicate the mission and vision to all.
  • Allocate resources (people, things, and money) according to the mission’s priorities.
  • Promote necessary change, and proactively manage the ever-present change resisters.
  • Creatively solve problems.
  • Resolve conflicts.
  • Keep cool under pressure.
  • Personally accept responsibility when things fail; give credit to the team when things succeed.
  • Exude servanthood.
  • Learn from others.
  • Listen abundantly.
  • Pray consistently.

Give thanks for the gifts God has given you. And give thanks for the gifts God has given to somebody else.

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.” –1 Corinthians 12:12

Want more articles for children’s ministry leaders? Check these out.

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