It has been said, “When it all is said and done, more gets said than done.” I guess this has been the frustration of millions of leaders since the first tribal chieftain held the first campfire council. It has been my experience that Leaders as a rule have plenty of vision. We love to dream. But learning to take a vision and manage the process toward its completion is something else. So it is all right to ask, even shout the question, “how in the world do you get a vision from the drawing board to the boardroom and from there to the people who are going to be benefited by it? The answer is Management.

Leadership can cast a vision, motivate, even inspire, but management must put the action, materials, and manpower into motion to produce the desired result. Leadership and management are not the same thing and I think we have yet to understand that in ministry. Therefore small ministries with big dreams seem to be the best we can produce. In ministry today we often have truckloads of vision and spoonfuls of management skills. As a result our impact is negligible at best and destructive at worst leaving us with our leadership numbers in decline. Why? Because when a visionary leader fails to partner with people who possess management abilities they quickly overheat and burnout as a result of a flaming passion for their vision and no mechanism by which to bring it to pass.

Leadership and Management…

While both leadership and management are executive functions, leadership is about where you are going, management is about how you get there, leadership is about progress, and management is about performance. We must have them both to achieve, and they must work together and not against each other. How? I’m glad you asked.

The process of leadership in an organization normally involves several steps, including:

  1. A foundational set of guiding and defining values.
  2. A clear vision that answers the “why do you exist”, question.
  3. A mission that answers the “what are you going to do”, question.
  4. A strategic plan that answers the “how and when are you going to do it”, questions.

The first three are essentially leadership responsibilities but the fourth, the strategic plan, is the step where management becomes urgent to the process. It is the strategic plan step where people must now engage in purposeful action if success is to be achieved. Here the process ceases to be visionary and abstract and now becomes measurable. Here the subjective becomes objective and it is time for management to step in and execute. This is the pivotal place where leadership must shift to management and management must put the nuts and bolts together to make the vision vehicle run down the road to achievement.  Often it is in this step that ministry vision comes apart at the seams because visionary leaders are often poor managers. If you are a visionary leader you must recruit managers who can assist you in implementation.

The challenge of ministry management…

In business, the vision of a company is a type of vehicle. It is a vehicle made up of supply and demand, leverage, margins and materials, combined to produce results, and ultimately upward movement in the bottom line. This nuts and bolts metaphor is a good analogy in most arenas, but not in ministry. There is a difference between getting the job done in the secular and getting the job done in the sacred. While I’m preaching we must have management type people, we must train them with a ministry mindset and keep them filled with the Spirit. I don’t want to paint with too broad a brush here, but often management types bring with them their own set of challenges. Management people tend to be more analyst than leadership types. Therefore they tend to be fairly detail oriented, can be possessive, territorial, and lack the people skills needed to motivate the troops. That may be OK in manufacturing but not in ministry. Let me explain.

For example, in businesses like manufacturing if there is a problem with the leadership or with production, the assembly line or in sales, you can take the system apart, isolate the defective component and fix it. Put it back together and get going again. But you can’t always do that in ministry. Why, because when we talk about ministry we are really talking about the Body of Christ. In other words it is a living thing. Everything relates to something else. I tell pastors all the time, ministry is more like medicine than business. We must always remember that when a doctor treats a patient he is well aware that everything he does affects something else. Treat one area and the other areas experience the pain, or even the side effects of the medication. And often while treating one illness we can create another.

Deal with an issue in the music department and often it creates a problem in the nursery. Why? Because it is a body. Everything is connected to everything else.  So it is in your vision and ministry. You must learn to manage the vision that God has given you from an integrated approach. Understanding that everything is related to something else. This is why it is so complex.

It is not like fixing a toaster. Problem with a toaster, simple take it apart and find the part that is bad and replace it and put it back together. But you cannot fix a body the way you repair a toaster. If your not careful you can kill the patient trying to fix it. It happens all the time in ministry. Sometimes the body won’t survive our experimental treatments.  We had better know what we are doing.  We must learn to develop our vision and study our ministries from the perspective of a model that is built on a living platform.

Leadership and Management must work together! The key here is relationship. And what are the critical keys to every successful relationship? Having a common set of core values, developing effective communication techniques, being committed to stand in agreement, being willing to share… the vision, the passion, the challenges and the glory when success comes.