Principles of Effective Leadership - Lesson 21

Challenges and Transitions

Expect challenges because it’s normal for people to challenge those in leadership. Good leaders are able to adapt to challenges and learn from them. We will eventually leave what we are leading, so do what you can do to lead in a way that will make the transition easier. The most significant test of leadership is not present performance but the legacy you leave behind.

John  Johnson
Principles of Effective Leadership
Lesson 21
Watching Now
Challenges and Transitions

I. Introduction to Challenges and Transitions

A. The Importance of Adapting to Change

B. Types of Leadership Challenges

II. Addressing Personal Challenges

A. Self-awareness and Growth

B. Time Management and Prioritization

C. Developing Resilience

III. Navigating Organizational Challenges

A. Conflict Resolution

B. Managing Change and Uncertainty

C. Cultivating a Positive Organizational Culture

IV. Embracing Transitions in Leadership Roles

A. Succession Planning

B. Developing Future Leaders

C. Adapting to New Leadership Positions

D. Step aside with integrity

  • In this lesson, you'll learn about the critical role of leadership in ministry, covering key aspects like core values, vision strategy, decision making, team building, conflict resolution, and biblical theology of leadership to enhance your effectiveness as a leader.
  • This lesson offers a comprehensive exploration of the complexities and challenges in defining leadership, highlighting its context-dependent nature, the influence of culture, and the variety of styles, personalities, and traits associated with leaders; it ultimately identifies three essential components of leadership: having followers, influencing others, and setting direction.
  • In this lesson, you explore the importance of leadership, vision, and planning, and learn about key qualities of a good leader, such as global thinking, flexibility, and empathy. You will also understand the three components of leadership and the delicate balance between leadership and influence.
  • This lesson delves into the importance of leadership, illustrating how it is critical to success in the political, corporate, and religious sectors, with personal experiences and expert opinions reinforcing the need for strong leaders to guide and shape organizations.
  • In the lesson, you gain insights into the nature of leadership, its key components, and the need for leaders in various contexts. You also explore the debate on whether leaders are born with innate abilities or if leadership can be acquired and developed over time. Additionally, the concept of leadership as a summoning, where individuals are called to lead during specific situations, is introduced.
  • Focus on your strengths and improve your leadership skills through Marcus Buckingham's guide, which debunks myths about personal growth, identifies strengths, and emphasizes the value of team members volunteering their strengths while balancing service with strengths-based contributions.
  • This lesson equips you with an understanding of the context of leadership, various leadership styles, and practical applications to effectively lead in different situations.
  • When you are identifying the social context of a group, it is important to recognize the structural, human resource, political and symbolic aspects of the group.

  • In this lesson, you gain insights on situational context in leadership, focusing on the leader, followers, organization, and environment, enabling you to adapt and foster growth.
  • Gain insights into core values and axioms in leadership, the power of language and word pictures, the leader's responsibility for casting a vision, and overcoming the fear of asking for help in order to rally support for a great vision.
  • By studying humility as a core value for leaders, you gain insight into the importance of humility in avoiding temptations of pride and power and discover the characteristics that define humble leaders. Additionally, you explore other core values, such as compassion, courage, and diligence, and learn how to build and maintain these values in your life through experience, self-assessment, and reflection and how it is essential in avoiding the temptations of pride and power.
  • This lesson teaches the significance of core values and skills in effective leadership, covering aspects such as integrity, justice, authenticity, competence, discernment, and intuitive leadership, all of which contribute to becoming a well-rounded and impactful leader.
  • By exploring this lesson, you learn the importance of teamwork in leadership, the characteristics of high-performing teams, and how to build, develop, and lead successful teams in your organization.
  • Learn the principles of effective leadership, explore key leader characteristics, and discover how to build strong teams, develop leadership skills, and measure success.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights into the critical role of leaders in setting direction, the importance of teamwork, and the need to establish a clear mission and purpose for organizations. Understanding these concepts enables you to be a more effective leader who can inspire and guide teams towards shared goals.
  • A Mission is a philosophic statement that answers the question, “Why are we here?” Vision is a strategic statement that answers the question, “Where are we going?”

  • This lesson teaches the importance of long term thinking in visionary leadership, emphasizing the value of learning from history, engaging present realities, and exploring future possibilities through scenario thinking and adapting to technology and trends.
  • This lesson explores strategic thinking, SWOT analysis, and trend analysis to help develop a clear vision and mission and adapt to an ever-changing environment in education and ministry.
  • Identifying objectives is the process of moving from vision to reality. Objectives are the tactics employed to carry out the strategies, the action plan of what needs to happen now. Decisiveness is an important quality of a good leader.

  • By studying this lesson on leadership and change, you will learn to effectively manage change in leadership, overcome resistance, implement and communicate change vision, and sustain long-lasting organizational transformation.
  • This lesson equips you with the knowledge and skills to navigate leadership challenges and transitions, fostering personal growth and organizational success.

This is a core leadership course designed for those who intend to be future leaders in ministry. This course will move from definitions to the core values of a leader; how to take a ministry through a vision process; engage in strategic planning, decision-making, and implementation; build great teams; work through conflict and change; delegate tasks; and effectively mentor the next generation of leaders. Models from the corporate, political, and military worlds will be compared and contrasted with biblical definitions and illustrations of leadership.

You may download the complete set of Dr. Johnson’s notes as a pdf. Since this class was presented during a condensed time frame, Dr. Johnson does not comment on all the points in his notes. We have provided the full text of the notes for your benefit. Click on the Class Outline link under Downloads.

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Dr. John Johnson

Principles of Effective Leadership


Challenges and Transitions

Lesson Transcript

Dr. John Johnson [00:00:01] Okay, We're almost there. We're getting close. Now, when there's change, as we've said already. Change is resistance. Movement means wind means resistance. And with resistance comes challenges. So as I put here on your notes, assume challenges. Just assume that, especially if you're really serious about not incrementalism, but something far bigger. Big, big changes to big things going to mean what more challenges? More challenges because there's more resistance so as to process here. Expect to have bruised chins and skin needs. You remember Barton once put it, the leader always gets voted off the island. So it's just part of it. And we see this throughout scripture, you know, Nehemiah everything is going well. It gets the wall built and then the resistance sets in. And there was resistance, of course, all the way through the building of the wall with men like San Bartlett to buy. We will always have some sand bullets and to buy that will want us to get down the ladder, so to speak. And that's where I love me. And my dad just says, you know, there's too much at stake to come down this ladder for you. It's always going to be there. As long as we're in a war, it's going to be part of it. I go back to Barton, Ruth Haley Barton, in her lessons from Moses, says criticism of the leader is so predictable that it should be viewed as part and parcel of the process itself. I want to read that again. Make sure you hear this criticism of the leader is so predictable that it should be viewed as part and parcel of the leadership process itself. Why do I keep stressing this so that you don't get overwhelmed by stress? Because criticism can stress you out. You know, to a certain extent. You just got to develop a real thick skin. You really do. If you're really thin skinned, you'll be a terrible leader. Doesn't mean you becomes arrogant or insensitive or hardened. And that's the tension. You want to stay soft, wants to have a certain tenderness. You want to listen to people. You want to hurt with them. But you can't be overwhelmed by criticism. They come because, as I put it here, leaders are at the front of the pack. You're out there, you're visible. So people will try to trip you, as they put it here, the highest peaks encounter the severe storms, climb Mt. Hood some day, and you'll see that when you get to the top, you look around and you go, Man, this I remember my first time I climb Mt. Hood. I looked around and my first impression was this place gets beat up. Of course it does. You know, storms throughout the year and it's a certain truth with leadership. They come because people don't usually follow. You know, people are rebellious by nature. So part of it is just to go. I shouldn't be surprised. It's just the nature of people. It's always a feud, as we saw Garry Wills commented. They come because we bring a vision, a plan. We bring change. We have this nose for stale air. They come because leadership is confrontational by nature. You know, last night we started with largely with ethnic people. And the first guy started off by saying, Do you know my name? Well, I didn't. And I said no. I have 1800 people that often I struggle. After this experience, I'm not sure. Sometimes I know my wife's name, but, you know, part of it was it almost started as a feud. It's just the nature of the beast. Now, he was nice about it, but, you know, underneath that is just this. See, this is why you don't understand where I'm coming from. You don't even know my name. I know. It is what it is. So expect challenges, anticipate them, and they come because we're trafficking truths. Sometimes the real hard thing about this is that we are ministering truth. Those of us who preach aren't always going to get people at the end that go. Thank you. I really love that you will get some of that, but you will get people that would be really upset with you. But it is the nature of truth. Every now and then I try to remind people I'm just the messenger. I didn't write this stuff. That helps a little bit. Jesus was always getting people mad. Even his disciples. They come because we're leading the church. You know, Hybels once said the church is the most leadership intensive organization on earth. And I think he's right because you're working with volunteers who can up and go it just to win. And you're trying to raise a budget, and that's unpredictable. As somebody said last night, well, you know, if a bunch of us just want to stop giving, we could do that. Yeah, I know. That's what makes it a challenge at times. And so part of this is expected and the meeting actually was a really good meeting last night was kind of hard at times. But, you know, I guess over the years, I can I can get on my bike and ride home and go to bed and have a nice sleep. I mean, it's just it is what it is. First shoes, ears. I took a much more personal. I want everybody to like me. Number two, adapt to challenges. And there are generally two kinds of responses. One, an unwillingness to adjust or a willingness to adapt. Pena says everyone has their own wall to climb Setbacks, heartbreaks, difficulties. Those who don't break, who find a way and willingness to climb recognize, seize the moments. Those who seize the moment stand are the leaders. So adaptive capacity. We just have to continually adapt to these things. Proverbs 2014 is one of my favorite Proverbs. If you falter, your strength is limited. We're going to face challenges and that becomes a real test if we falter. Well, we didn't have a lot of strength to begin with. Part of adapting is means, you know, don't hide from them. Don't just close the door and hope they'll go away. You know, a lot of people are into an avoidance mode or denial, and you just can't. In the darkness, they grow like a monstrous poison mushroom. That is so true. You know, sometimes you'll hear people say something like this. Well, I'm just not a confronted, right. I'm just not to confront her. Well, I got news for those who say that it'll still catch up. Do you want to do it now? Now or later? It's sort of like, do you want to pay it now or pay it tomorrow with interest? It's your choice. Makes a lot of sense to pay it now. You can hide and avoid, but it'll come find you. So try to not hide from them. Address them directly. Jack Welch gives some advice. He says assume the problem is worse than it appears. I suppose you can take that so far. If you go too far with that, you can overreact. Because part of I think leadership is to try to bring things back to. Well, let me put it this way. I think a leader has to see it for the size it really is. Most people who have a problem, that problem's going to be far bigger than it really is. So like with the people last night, really the problem they're dealing with, for some it's far bigger. It's not the end of the world. The sky is not falling in, but we can let it get that way. So the leader has to see it in its true proportion and deal with it that way. I think I'd rather see it that way. So don't hide from them. Avoid surrounding yourself with people like Ahab and the Prophets. You need to see it. Avoid demonizing your opponents. Oh, man, this is so important. Leaders routinely avoid facing real issues this way. Well, you know, look, I think the problem is, is that I mean, I think this just reveals the fact that you're not walking with God or you're not sensitive to the spirit or. Well, you know, as we've thought this through, clearly it's it's apparent to us this is the will of God that is not a good way to handle conflict because it demonizes the other person. Or when somebody does it to you, it puts you in the in the position of arguing with God for, say, Adam. So, look, here's the test. I want it back by the end of the month. And Adam goes, Well, you know, clearly, John, the spirit just laid it on my heart. That's just too soon. What now? I'm arguing with the spirit, with Adam. See, he's subtly put that in there. And that's why sometimes and I said it here before, I just say to people, don't misunderstand what I'm going to say here, but can we leave God out of this? Because once you bring that in, you raise the temperature. White believers have a really hard time disagreeing because they feel this need to bring God into it. And when you do, then suddenly it elevates everything. So, yeah, we all know what God wants the best for us. But let's not assume that we're speaking for God here. Let's share why we feel this way. Then when we work at that level, we might have a chance to come into some agreement, Avoid demonizing, turning differences into spiritual war. I remember one time I was working with this pastor. It was my first and only associate Pastor Shipp, and he was a great pastor, really loved him, but he decided to preach the book of Isaiah first by verse.

Speaker 2 [00:11:09] And you?

Dr. John Johnson [00:11:11] First by verse, we only got to about chapter ten, and the people were dying. I mean, they were almost coming up to me going, Oh, they're killing me.

Speaker 2 [00:11:23] Yeah.

Dr. John Johnson [00:11:24] I mean, the prophets weren't meant to be preached like that. You know, you look for key themes to be like preaching the book of job first by verse, you know, ego. I mean, you get in the middle of that and people would be going like, Joe, how long how long is this going? Right? And the problem, when you're an associate pastor and people have they feel awkward saying anything. I mean, so they've come to me just started coming to me in droves. And I said to him, I said, you know, maybe you might want to take bigger sections and start to move your way through the book. People are just getting lost. And. And I remember he said, you know, John is what you can count on. You know, when you preach the word of God, the adversary is going to show his head and you're going, I don't really think that's the issue here, you know. But see, that's my point, that when you start demonizing things, I mean, so what could I say at that point if I said, well, no, I really I think he might go, Oh, John, it's happened to you, too. You've fallen prey to the subtleties of the deceitfulness of the enemy. I don't think he would have done that. But it's like when you choose to leave. Actually, as great as this guy was, he did the same thing with his departure. It wasn't over, Isaiah, but it contributed. You know, when he did leave, he wrote this flowing letter of how God had clearly through this psalm, led him to this next destination. Well, so what are you going to say? Well, I know. I really think you should have stay. I mean, he put you in a position that you'd be arguing with. God, we can do this and really makes therefore disagreement really hard. So avoid responding defensively. It's always our first instinct. It's often the worst response is probably one of the hardest ones here because it's our nature. Somebody says something and we can't help but get defensive. And here's another one Avoid investing too much energy. Otherwise, you can suck the whole organization into the vortex and move to paralysis. These are all really such good pieces of wisdom. Weigh the criticisms too. You know what I mean by that? You've got to look at who the person is and what they're saying and what's the motivation behind it. So don't just count them. Are they coming from the core? That coming from the French. If your board chairman is saying, look, I think you're making it not a good decision. Well, that has a lot of weight. Somebody who visits the church for the first time. This is what I think.

Speaker 2 [00:14:25] Oh.

Dr. John Johnson [00:14:25] Okay. I've put a lot of weight on that. So make sure you weigh them. Voices have to be heard at their true decibel level and then choose which battles to fight because and make sure you put a star by this. Underline it. We only have so many fights in us. We really do. You can't fight every battle. Great leaders know which ones that you engage with an inner. So there's going to be times she's going to say, I'm just not going there. It's not because you don't care that. But you just got to say, I know, I know. My my level. I can't I can't go there. So if it's with people who differ, try to build a bridge. If it comes with those committed to your failure, it's not worth your time. If it comes from those who are divisive, intent upon poisoning others, sabotaging the mission, then you've got to confront. I really pay a lot of attention to criticism if it's coming from the people that I know really want me to succeed. You know, I really want the church to succeed, care a lot about me and the church. But if it comes from people that I know almost from day one, they'd just be happy that I'm gone. That would actually like to destroy me. It's just. And you will have those. You really will. And be careful. Sometimes they will be those that you least expect it. Sometimes it will be your top cheerleader. The one who actually was the key voice that said, I want you know, I want this guy in the organization. I want Dominique. He's he's the man. Dominique comes in and Dominique may find down the road, down the stretch that this guy Ashley has turned and become his chief adversary. And you go and it will really throw you and you'll go, I know. How did that happen? It's because. But think of the logic of it. Oftentimes, your chief cheerleader, the one who is the chief influencer, is who? The leader, Right. In the interim and you come in and now you're going to be asserting leadership and suddenly he realizes the competition and you become a real threat. You didn't mean for it to. You didn't intend to it. I remember in the Netherlands, this guy was he really wanted me to be the next pastor. He was a great guy. But like five weeks into it, I remember one day he came over to my office and he said, You know what your problem is? You're an autocrat. What? An autocrat. I've never had anybody. I've never seen myself like that. I mean, I think I'm a fairly strong leader, but it's not my way or the highway. I'm a team guy. I like to bring people into the discussion. But as I watched him and then I found out he had done this with the previous pastors and the ones after me, that he's he's kind of a leader there. These kind of people will be your chief cheerleaders as long as you're their voice. See, actually, they brought you to be their voice. But the moment you exhibit any kind of independent thinking, then that relationship goes south and then they might be out to sabotage you. Usually they are. And that's where I say choose your battles that you fight. If I give this guy all the energy he wants me to give him, I'll be no good to the rest of the people I'm trying to reach and love. Don't let that happen. It's subtle. It's deceptive. It's meant to do you in. And you have to say, No, I can't do that. And then, of course, learn from challenges. Submit to the crucible. I mean, there will be two challenges. Those who seek like going to seminary and those you find that find you, you regardless, that lead you into the unknown. So we'll all face crucibles. And that's okay because from them we grow season I had with this man I just described in Europe went for almost seven years. It was great deep pain at times to have two or three people that are always out to destroy you. But I will say this man that I grew up spiritually, it was a great time. I don't miss it. But they can be. So God would use those, You know, Nelson Mandela, one of my favorite quotes of him. Every great leader must cross the desert. Every great leader. Most cross the desert. And Proverbs affirms this. God talks a lot about the refining part out of the fire. We become a vessel for the Smith 25. For 2717 out of sparks, we become sharpened for the task. So the best leaders in Scripture were the ones who were honed in the desert like David Moses. They didn't get a pass. We won't get a pass and then create an environment for others that says it's okay to risk fail. It's part of what we face. I have a friend who used to work as an arbiter for the postal union, where you can imagine that's. Postal union management, that could probably get pretty dicey, right? I mean, so he was right in the apex of it all in the fire at times severely attacked. I asked him one day what he learned and he said, I learned to do something like this with people. When somebody comes up and they're very personal and they say something very hurtful. Rather than respond defensively, I learned to say something like this. Well, I need to ponder that. Here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to go to the people who know me best and I'm going to ask them this question Is this who I am or is this what I'm becoming? And then let's sit down and talk about it. This man who said, well, you know, your promise, you're autocratic with his wisdom. It would be instead of responding defensively would be to say, well, you know, that doesn't seem to be how I operate. But maybe there's a blind spot. Let me go to those who know me well and let me ask them. It kind of defuzed things that help him to see things with greater clarity. And, you know, and it's risky. Maybe you go to those who know you won't go. Well, honestly, you want my honest opinion? Yeah, you can be that way. Well, then you realize why I need to own up to that. But if people that, you know go, I think this guy is dealing with a different issue. Well, then it helps you to go back and deal with it. Okay. Questions, challenges. They'll be part of the landscape.

Speaker 2 [00:21:51] But they have been.

Speaker 3 [00:21:53] Stoned or stumble. Stoned?

Dr. John Johnson [00:21:59] Yeah. It's one or the other, isn't it? Yeah. Yeah, that's good. Ten. It's exactly right. They will make us or they'll break us, right? Yeah. Yeah. You know, the reason pastors generally last no more than two and a half years on average in a church, I think has a lot to do with what we've just talked about. It's maybe not learning that there are challenges and not to necessarily read them as God is saying it's time to move, but it's God's time. It's time to grow. So sometimes we can just avoid growth all our life. There's some times where we you have to was was See in a moment it is time to go. So what are we learning? We're learning. Challenges are just part of the landscape. They'll happen because you're a leader. Deal with it. Right. But handle them carefully. Wisely. Anything else? Any other observation. What's God teaching you?

Speaker 3 [00:23:12] Helpful to know my temperament. I'm thinking, Oh, I do hope that my resistance to making.

Dr. John Johnson [00:23:22] It my temperament tends to be pretty confrontational. Am I creating a lot of unnecessary resistance? Where maybe a gentle answer turns away. Wrath, as Proverbs puts it.

Speaker 3 [00:23:39] I worked one summer for a camp that became a church in Buffalo, New York. When I arrived, the pastor said that he had arranged to get speakers from Wilson. And that he was going to take off. He's supposed to be a mentor and that the senior. Having a associate and he couldn't handle all the conflict that was going on in the church. And he became very depressed and he was in his right mind. I felt personally that I share that with me. I could share that with the conversation. At the end of the summer, I knew his health was going downhill and how serious he was depressed. So I shared with the elders. The situation so that they could give him the care that he needed. It made me aware of just how I was like to be in church and.

Dr. John Johnson [00:24:46] You know, in a church setting can be awful, can do all these other things, you know, spiritual war from one which is real sometimes our immaturity, some handling truth. I mean, all these things can and we've got the sword of the spirit. But if we don't have maturity, we can do a lot of cutting unnecessarily. We have this idealism. There's a lot of factors that go into making. Church is often very messy when it comes to conflict.

Speaker 2 [00:25:22] You almost have to develop a thick skin with a tender heart. And yeah, there's such a need for balance so that when someone first comes to you with a complaint, you know, just immediately, you know, there is a latch on. I know they've got, you know. Yeah. I mean, someone reason criticism too is. We need to look intently into the criticism to see if there's any truth and learn from it.

Dr. John Johnson [00:25:45] Yeah.

Speaker 2 [00:25:46] And. And then cast away that which is true. And that's really what it takes to survive in the industry.

Dr. John Johnson [00:25:52] Yeah, it's well said, Terry. It's exactly right. I mean, part of it, too, is it's very important that you know your vulnerabilities and your vulnerable moments. If you're a pastor, those of you that go down that course don't make life decisions on Mondays. For example, I know one of my real vulnerable moments is right after I preached. I just poured out my soul. I expended my energies. I've shared. My passion is just all out there. If somebody comes up and says, you know, here's a problem, I think I see in the church that relates to you. I mean, if somebody did that at that moment, that would be a really in which you have to learn right there to say, you know what, I'm not going there. Not right now. I can't. It's managing. It is just saying there's a time to talk about. This isn't a time where somebody comes up and has a beef about something just before you preach or teach or you're going to give a talk. You got to resist the potential to get drawn into it and you realize it's a trap and then you can't get yourself righted emotionally and spiritually for your talk. So you really have to almost teach your people here. At times. I'm really available. Not these times.

Speaker 2 [00:27:19] I look back on my years in ministry and it's so true. A guy just starting out really needs to take heart. But you will grow in these capacities over the years because I look back and I see this whole evolution as kind of the way it is. It's an evolution because I remember the first church pastor giving criticisms and just telling people, Don't give up, I'm done. I'm through with this. So then I went through a phase where it was like really thick skinned and I was just, you don't know anything, you know, That's what I think in my heart, you know? And then I finally got to a place where I think I can deal with people now and go, Oh, well, let's sit down and talk about it and not feel threatened. Yeah, you know, but it took it took years and years.

Dr. John Johnson [00:27:58] It because a lot of times it's it isn't really about us. Really isn't.

Speaker 2 [00:28:04] Right.

Dr. John Johnson [00:28:05] We just have to separate that. The danger I've found is that the longer you're in an institution, an organization, the more you pour your soul out. Give yourself to it, the more you become tied to it. If somebody criticizes Western Seminary, I take it personal. Because I am Western Seminary. I poured myself into it. I've identified with the same at church. You know, if somebody came up and said, you know, a village is really a dysfunctional church, I'd take that very personal. Now, what am I saying that you shouldn't? I think part of it is just recognize sometimes when you say, Why did this hurt me so much? Because you've invested so much of yourself in it. This will happen. You will find yourself feeling this way. And maybe it's just a natural thing and it's not like it's right or wrong. It's just the way it is. But somehow don't get too caught up. Wrapped up. Your identity has to be far more than the organization. That's part of it. That makes sense because you can take it very personal. Okay. Let's talk a little bit about transitions. We've got to be really wise with the past and with the present. But, you know, we've got to really be thinking out there always into the future. You know, let's share the obvious. We all will leave one way or the other. We will leave whatever we are leading. So knowing that that's true, a certain amount of our work should be preparing that organization for our departure almost from the beginning. I'm not going to say I do that, and I instinctively think that way. It really is a lot of effort because actually you don't want to focus on that. I'm not interested in that, but to a certain extent I have to be. I have to be. Because when we leave that organization unprepared for our departure, it may take a certain amount of recovery and loss of effectiveness, and that is a reflection of our leadership. If Bill Hybels I use so a very obvious big illustration. If Bill Hybels is doing nothing, I have no idea what he's doing to prepare for his departure. But if is doing nothing to prepare for his departure. Then one day when his departure comes and it will, the whole thing could kind of collapse potentially. How can you say that? Just look around. Look around at how much that does happen, how much it has happened, especially when organizations get built up largely around a leader. So the first thing to say in the introduction is just face the obvious, the inevitable right from the start. Maxwell talks about the lore of legacy and notes that few groom a successor to take over the organization. Alexander the Great is a great example. He was this passionate, great leader, leads his army all the way to Afghanistan, but he didn't prepare a successor, and it just became then an internal fight amongst his generals. And then everything that he brought together in this sort of world domination split up into all kinds of pieces. So you've got to think this through. So what makes for a good transition? Here are some rules. Number one, make your present leadership count. Now, that might just seem obvious, as I think my notes put on here. It's not which you leave to so much as what you left behind. K Let me say that again. It's not so much what you leave to as much as what you left behind. And I say that at the top of the next page. Success is not measured by what you're leaving, but by what you are leaving behind, by what you're leaving to, but what you're leaving behind. Sometimes we say, Oh, you know, Did you hear about Ted? Oh, yeah. He's gone to this new ministry or and it's far bigger and, well, good for Ted. What a success. So what did Ted leave behind? Well, you know, actually, Ted had gotten involved in a lot of things towards the end of his ministry, and it was really in decline. It was probably a good reason he left anyway. It's what you leave behind is really a measure of success more than even if the next step is a big step up the ladder. The most significant test of leadership is not present performance, but the legacy that you leave behind as a leader stayed true to the mission. As the leader led the work to dream a new dream. Has the vision been on course towards achieving the vision as the leader lived out his or her core values as a leader created a leadership ethos? Those are some good questions, and if you haven't been able to answer those, clearly you're not ready to leave. No matter how appealing the next opportunity might be. The first thing here is transitions are about, first of all, making sure that what you're doing really counts, that you're not just, you know, marking time. Yeah, you know, I got this first command. I'm commanding an oil tanker. I want to get to an aircraft carrier. But, you know, I just got to bide my time, pay my dues. No, I mean, make it the best oil tanker you can make it so that when you leave, people are just they hate to see you go and you hate to go in a way. Secondly, know when it's time to leave. Oh, man, if we all had crystal ball so we could see this. Every leader has a life cycle. Everything has a season. And wise leaders anticipate they know when to create new curves for the organization and for their own lives. Because here's the key. If you leave too soon, you'll leave a sense the work wasn't completed. You hang on too long and your good work may be potentially canceled out by your lingering stay. Right. It's a tension. So I leave now. If I leave too soon, I could really mess things up. If I leave too late. I could do the same thing. So here are some guidelines. Obvious one. Have you run out of energy? Fleming makes the point that energy is the currency of leadership. I like that phrase. It's our currency. So pay close attention to it. I give the illustration of Bobby Ross, one of my favorite coaches who went from the San Diego Chargers to the Detroit Lions. He was a great coach. He he's one of these hard driving, just turn organizations around, great coach, but he puts everything into it. About midseason with the Detroit Lions. He resigned right out of the blue and everybody said, well, what are you doing? You can't do this. And he just said, I don't have the passion anymore. He just woke up one day and said, the fire's not in there. You know, the gas isn't in the tank. Part of it is if you don't have any more heart for it, it's that where you come home one day and you just go, God, I'm ready for a change. My heart isn't here. I'm just I'm starting to just go through the motions. And when you see that happening, that's a great time to say, God, you know, prepare this organization and me for transition. Has the organization grown beyond your unique abilities and experiences? Is a painful one, but you know, you might lead this organization to its new chapter and it might be a great chapter, but if it may be that it goes beyond you in its acceleration and movement, it may pass you by and you realize I can't stay out in front leading it. That may happen now. It's less prone to happen if you keep evolving yourself. And the key is as the organization evolves and you want it to evolve, you have to evolve. You have to keep evolving. If you stop evolving to one or two things is going to happen. The organization is going to stop evolving and get dead in the water. And we've already talked about that, or you've set it on a trajectory and it's going to keep going and you're going to be behind. So ask yourself, has it gone beyond you? Here's the second. Are you losing the support of your leadership? Keep taking that temperature. If you find one day that board isn't standing with you like it used to, that's a really good indicator that God is saying time to go. And it's not. The time to go is a failure or a bad thing. It just may mean that God is saying what I intended for you to be and to do here is done. And that's okay. God has now a place for us that he needs to somewhere else. And somebody that God is groomed for this situation needs to come. Are you losing the cooperation of your staff? Is God calling you to a new chapter? Obviously, that's a question we ask, but how do we know he is? Well, some of those things I've just listed are probably good indicators. Is the counsel of those closest to you affirming the decision to move on? So in this first church that was like frozen in time that I prayed from day one, God.

Speaker 3 [00:38:19] Get me out of here.

Dr. John Johnson [00:38:22] You know? But I loved it. I did my best. I poured myself into it. This church began to thaw and move. And it was a great church, but it was a hard church. In my eighth year, I got this letter from Boston or the Netherlands asking me to consider coming. I thought, Wow, this sounds exciting Overseas, a whole new venture. I'd been praying that this prayer, you know, Lord bless to bless me, enlarge my boundaries, lay your hand behind me. It may not be painful. I mean, I and I subscribe to the to the book, you know, and that was my daily prayer. And here it was expanded boundaries. It's the will of God. I was all ready to go. But I went to my leadership, my core leadership. I've been here eight years and I said, Guys, I'm really ready. But I know we're right in the thick of this vision. It's taken a long time and I want you to pray and I want you to tell me what you think. And they came back and said, Don't leave. It's premature. I said, okay. So hard as it was, I closed those doors and then. Two years later, I was on vacation and I began to pray and I was still thinking about that. And I said, God, if that opportunity would ever come around again, I'm ready. Well, it did. I got home. I was painting the house, and one day I'm painting the house. At the end of vacation, the phone rings. It's the church chairman. Well, would you reconsider the guy we brought? It hasn't really worked out. So I called people. I poured my life into my leaders that I've worked with. I said, What do you guys think? And I said, It's a good time. I mean, they realize that it's just time for all of us. And I went with great peace. And it doesn't always work like that. But don't stay too long. Don't leave too soon. Listen to the counsel of those closest to you. You may pour yourself into a board. You've maybe handpicked them, you've mentored them, you've shaped them, and now they're great leaders. Well, you know, you owe it to them to ask them. If you can't trust them. Well, then who can you? These ought to be the guys, right? Hey, guys, what do you think? Number three, prepare the organization to succeed after you leave. You owe it to them. Prepare the organization to succeed. What that means is start looking at the people you want to pour yourself into to be the future leaders. I think churches do this horribly. Churches are weird about this. You say at one point I'm leaving or they ask you to leave. They go through this long search process. They almost sometimes it's a mark of honor to say we have 75 candidates who want this job. Like, Yeah, so look at us. It's stupid, really. The church plateaus. Then it takes a while to establish trust with the new leader. Sometimes churches lose four or five years in transitions. Sometimes it just happens that way. Maybe it has to happen that way. But how great would it be if generally, typically organizations, Christian organizations, ministries, churches intentionally groom their successors almost from the start, knowing they're going to leave one day? I mean, like my dream at Village is I look at that and here's my ideal. I want to be there about five more years. That's about right. But right now, I'm really praying about I want to invest in a couple of young guys. I want to mentor them. I want to train them. I want to prepare them. I want them to preach. I want them to share leadership. I want to gradually pass the baton on so that by the time I leave, nobody even noticed. Wouldn't that be almost seamless? I don't know if it's going to happen, but I told my board chairman what I want to do, and if you're a smart board and wise board, you'll help me do that because it's in your interests. It's not so much in my interest. It's in the church's interests so that you keep the momentum and you don't lose a step. It's sort of like a baton, you know, inner baton in a race where you're handing it off and the guy in front of you starts his motion. And by the time you catch up with him, you're both running parallel. You hand it to him, he takes off and the team hasn't lost a beat. Imagine how healthy churches would be if this was their history of transition, right? You think about that. But what's our typical have this departure this time, when everything stops this search, then this process of candidates and then this honeymoon period. And it takes a long time to get it back. It's like turning down this huge engine that takes a long time to get it back on. Moses Groom, Joshua. Here's a great example of scripture, isn't it? So did Israel lose a bit? In a certain sense. No. He just took off where Moses left off and took Israel into its next chapter. And Moses was really great about this. David began developing leaders from the start in the cave, his 30 men, if you will. We see Elijah with Elijah as an example. No one did this better than Jesus. He's showing us. He's shown the church. This is how you do it. You pour yourself in, you mentor. You have your upper room discourse, and then you leave. We see this in really healthy corporations that do this. Well, no tissue refers to it. In his book, The Leadership Venture, which I think I may have mentioned here, but a great organization's engine is its future leaders. So build that engine because we know the opposite, right? You would think Joshua would have got it from Moses. But what is Joshua? Its great failure as a leader, it would seem, is why he didn't groom a successor. So after, you know, Joshua cause everybody together and says, As for me in my house, we will serve the Lord. So you guys all do the same thing and it all is really nice, but you want to say that's all fine. Joshua But where's the young guy you've poured yourself in like Moses did with you? And because he didn't. What follows Joshua is the book of Judges where it says, What? What explains that totally dysfunctional book? And everyone did what was right in their own eyes. What does that say? There was no leaders. Everyone was doing their own thing. No one was leading in a direction. So creator, leadership, training, culture, some of the things here, you know, that's why I've said to you one of your time is just to create a leadership notebook. I hope my notes serve as a base to start and then build on it. Have your own sections. And then what I'd really just implore you to do is take this and go train the next set of leaders and then tell them to do that, just as Paul said. 2 Timothy In other words, here's a great challenge. Make your leadership organization. I mean, make your organization if it's church or whatever it is, create a leadership ethos, Keep training leaders, create a leadership culture, discover your emerging leaders, your VTI piece, if you will. Figure out who they are and pour yourself into them and then persuade them to become a part. Prepare them to fill the gap. And then here's the big lesson. The fourth lesson about transition. Step aside with integrity. There's a guy named Yahya Sonnenfeld who wrote a book entitled The Hero's Farewell What Happens When CEOs Retire? He interviewed 50 prominent retired CEOs, and he discovered at least four patterns. Here they are. He discovered the summer monarchs. They're like aging athletes who won't give up. They're deeply attached. They believe they are not yet finished. They think no one can replace them. They choose weak successors leave bitter, they're often overthrown. Case in point, I remember reading the book. I think it's entitled The Art of Temptation by a guy who was Criswell successor. Criswell was the pastor at one time of the largest Southern Baptist Church in America, W.A. Criswell, Dallas, Texas. Huge church. Criswell was a big national name. He goes, and he gets Joel Gregory out of a little church of 10,000 in Fort Worth nearby. I just love Southern Baptist numbers. You know, it gets the church out of 10,000 to move up to to become the pope, so to speak. So Gregory is there for like three years and Criswell hasn't left. And he finally one day he goes up to Chris Wall and he says, and Chris was still preaching and now Gregory's preaching some, but Chris was. So, you know, we need to to bring you in carefully, slowly. So I'll still preach the mid service on Sunday, the one that's being taped filmed. And Chris will still has his office. So finally Gregory goes up to him about the third year and says, So, you know, look, I think I've got things figured out here. And Chris Paul goes, Now that these things take time. Well, the point was, the only way Chris will ever really was going to leave was if he was ousted. It's a really sad story because what happens is finally Gregory leaves and ends up selling mortuary plot, you know, funeral markers. It's a really sad summer. Monarchs. They just can't. Some pastors are like that situation. Yeah. Thank you for that. And then some are generous. They leave and they choose a strong successor and they leave reluctantly and plot to come back, just kind of waiting in the wind. But they're going to come back one of these days. People are going to get a little bit unhappy with. A successor, then he's going to start plotting with them and it's going to be a takeover. Some are ambassadors. Their identity is not so much in the position. They're content with their accomplishments. They mentor a strong successor, believe ministry can succeed without them, and they step aside gracefully and they become a trusted confidant at village. One of the things I'm so grateful for is Don Johnson is my predecessor, retired many, many years beloved pastor. He's always been there. If I ever need counsel or advice. He's a wonderful mentor and he just gracefully comes and just sits in the pew. And and the other day I saw him out in the parking lot with one of those orange sayings on directing traffic. I said, Hey, Pastor Don, you look great, you know, But he gratefully just, I'm here if you need me. But I just kind of move on. He's an ambassador. But then there are governors who have little attachment to the office serve their term. They don't necessarily mentor anyone. They just leave and break all ties and you never hear from them again. Well, so the point is, leave us an ambassador summary, huh? We've learned a lot about leadership in just a very compacted time. We started by defining what leaders are, who leaders are talked about, the need, talked about how we recognize the for leaders. We've talked about the context. Leaders need to see through the core values you've got to have right. The importance of working with the team, setting a vision, what that process looks like, the difference between vision strategies, mission, vision, strategies, objectives. They all have a sequential role. You got to pull the trigger. You got to decide, make decisions, be decisive. You create change. When you do know how to manage change, change is going to lead to resistance. So realize here's some lessons to deal with and then at some point you'll leave. One way or another, you'll leave. So know the rules for leaving. So that kind of summarizes what we've talked about in a very quick way.