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You can’t control most things, but taking control of this will shift everything.

Who is the most difficult person you have ever had to lead? 

Was it a strong-willed child? Was it an employee that wasn’t teachable? Was it a volunteer in your church or organization? Whose face and name came to mind when you read that question? 

When I first thought of that question, the name that immediately popped into my mind was Cecil. He was a member of the first church I ever pastored. He was a red-headed, overly-opinionated, hot-blooded Irishman who loved to debate the finer points of Scripture. 

I became Cecil’s pastor at the age of 23. I still can’t believe they turned me loose on a congregation at that age. I often feel that I should go back and apologize to my first flock. I was very zealous and passionate but lacked wisdom and experience. I was still in seminary at the time and didn’t know much about pastoring, but I thought I did.

After I had been there about 6 months, I was preaching on a Sunday morning to the sixty people in my congregation. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like something hitting the floor. I didn’t think much of it at the time and proceeded to finish my message. 

At the end of the service one of the men in my church shook my hand and said, “You made it six months. That’s pretty impressive.” I said, “What are you talking about?” Then he explained, “Didn’t you hear that Bible slam shut during your message? That was brother Cecil letting the rest of us know that what you were teaching was wrong. He is our self-appointed theological watchdog. And it’s impressive that you made it six months before he slammed his Bible shut during one of your sermons.”

It is an understatement to say that Cecil was not easy to lead. He already had his mind made up about EVERYTHING. He had the spiritual gift of criticism. 

I remember the first time Cecil invited me to his home for dinner. As I walked in the door, it felt like I was standing in a chimney. Cecil, his wife, and his two grown kids were all chain smokers. His first words to me that night were, “If our smoking makes you mad, well, you can just get glad because we’re not going to change.” 

Did I mention that Cecil was not easy to lead? 

However, over the years, I have become intimately acquainted with someone who is even harder to lead than Cecil. 

That someone is ME! 

Leading Cecil was a cakewalk compared to trying to lead myself for the last half century. 

The most difficult, obstinate, flaky, rebellious person you will ever lead is yourself. 

Implicit in the idea of self-leadership is the notion that I am responsible for leading myself. 

Every one of us wants to play for a great team. But it is important to remember that great teams are made up of great individuals. The first step in having a great team is for you to take full ownership of leading yourself and being a great team member. 

Implicit in the idea of self-leadership is the notion that I am responsible for leading myself. Click To Tweet

The life that you long for, the life that your soul craves, is accessible. And it has nothing to do with your job description, the size of your church or organization, or your place on the org chart. 

The abundant life that Jesus talked about in John 10 can actually be your real-life experience. Second Peter 1:3 says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life” (NLT).

The most difficult, obstinate, flaky, rebellious person you will ever lead is yourself. Click To Tweet

Everything! There is a fascinating passage in Deuteronomy 30 that illustrates this truth. In the first 10 verses God holds out an invitation to a blessed life. The Lord says that when the people of Israel decide to return and follow him with a whole heart, he will give them an abundant and rich life.

He promises to restore their fortunes and increase their number and protect them from their enemies. Then, in verse nine, we read— 

The LORD your God will then make you successful in everything you do. He will give you many children and numerous livestock, and he will cause your fields to produce abundant harvests, for the LORD will again delight in being good to you as he was to your ancestors” (Deuteronomy 30:9 NLT).

It is an incredible passage of hope and promise. Right on the heels of this offer of a blessed life, God takes away the possibility of the Israelites playing the “victim card.” 

He says— 

Now what I am commanding you today  is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. 12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” 14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-14 NIV).

This abundant, rich, satisfying, fulfilling, meaningful, joy-filled life is accessible.

The first step in having a great team is for you to take full ownership of leading yourself and being a great team member. Click To Tweet

In the words of Deuteronomy 30, it is not too difficult, and it is not out of reach. It is close at hand and available. 

God says that he has given you the choice between life and death, blessings and curses. Choosing life seems like a no-brainer. But how many times have we chosen ways that are not life-giving but are destructive and hurtful? 

God says that he has given you the choice between life and death, blessings and curses. Choosing life seems like a no-brainer. But how many times have we chosen ways that are not life-giving but are destructive and hurtful? Click To Tweet

There is one thing I want us to be very clear about from this passage: the life of blessing is a “choice.” Then, with a sense of pleading, God says, “Oh, that you would choose life.” Let those words seep down in your soul.

The starting point in building a great team is to “choose life.” Take personal responsibility. Own it. Take hold of it. Put your “victim card” in the trash and start leading yourself well.

The starting point in building a great team is to “choose life.” Take personal responsibility. Own it. Take hold of it. Put your “victim card” in the trash and start leading yourself well. Click To Tweet

As we approach the new year, take this challenge to heart. Consider how you have fled the responsibility of leading yourself or allowed yourself to live in a victim mentality. 

Check out the questions below and chew on the things the Lord might be tugging on your heart.

Team Discussion Questions:

  1. Either in your personal life or ministry, when are you most apt to play the victim card?
  2. Read Deuteronomy 30:11-14 again. What word or phrase most stands out to you? Why?
  3. In Deuteronomy 30 God says that the abundant life is not out of reach or too difficult. It really can be ours. What would an abundant, rich, and meaningful “team” experience look like?
  4. What is one area where you could lead yourself better?

Does your team focus too much on health? Or too much on performance?

They are equally important, but we’re seeing church teams have a bent towards one more than the other. But great teams focus on relationships and results.

That’s why we want to guide you to lead staff teams that love working together and get stuff done— spiritually, emotionally, and relationally healthy, as well as productive and high-performing.

Learn more about Unstuck Teams here.

 


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**This is an excerpt from High Impact Teams written by Lance Witt. 

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