Which are You?
Recently, Seth Godin wrote a blog post about building, breaking, and fixing.
"We spend some of our time building things, from scratch. New ideas, new projects, new connections. Things that didn't exist before we arrived. We spend some of our time breaking things, using them up, discovering the edges. And we spend some of our time fixing things. Customer support, maintenance, bug fixes... And most of all, answering email and grooming social media. The world needs fixing, it always does."
That got me thinking.
These are three main buckets I find for church leaders as well, except I would add a fourth bucket: maintainers.
Which are you? Indulge me for a second.
See which one of these might be you:
These are the types of leaders that like to start new things from scratch. These are the pioneers. The church planters. The people that see a vision from God and then set out to make it happen. Builders come in all shapes and sizes, ages and backgrounds. While many young dreamers start as builders, they find that the work is long and hard. As a result, as builders get older, many become breakers, fixers, or maintainers out of frustration, exhaustion, or disillusionment. Lots of people WANT to be builders, but few have this as their primary driver. Builders many times are innovators. Risk takers. They try new things just to see if they'll work. They keep the best and discard the rest. But builders get bored after they've built what they've built. Maintenance is boring and unfulfilling. They get restless and look to start something new. In the church world, that many times means moving on to another church that offers that opportunity.
Breakers, on the other hand, have the ability to see what is not working and literally break it. Sometimes things need to be dismantled, torn apart and broken. Breakers can come into a church and, with a very objective eye, identify where the holes are, where the waste is, what's not working, and what needs to go. They're not afraid to shoot the sacred cows. Breakers can be the real change agents that a church might need from time to time to combat restlessness and status quo. Breakers hate complacency and they're not afraid to confront it. Breakers are the people many churches hire (without knowing it) to follow a long-term pastor. In fact, breakers can initiate the change that will quite possibly need a fixer or builder to ultimately remedy. Breakers can find themselves in turnaround churches repeatedly over their church careers. They enjoy this challenge and are good at it. But breakers find their tenure many times is just a few years... then it's time to go break something somewhere else.
Fixers bring the solutions. The fixer can be a long-term position that continues to diagnose and make things better. Fixers fix what the breakers broke. Fixers implement strategies, goals, and accountability for the long-term success of the church. They set vision into action. They may start some new ministries (bringing out their inner-builder). Fixers are there for the long-run. They work with staff and boards. They tweak governance and polity. They ensure financial viability. Fixers build teams and delegate. They're many times consumed with church health and vitality. They want to leave a good legacy to the next generation. They're a great person to have on your team. Fixers have the ability to stay at the same church for a long period of time and many times hit their 'sweet spot' in ministry at a particular church. This leads to long-term, fruitful ministry.
Maintainers are all about keeping the status quo. Maintainers many times seek safety (for themselves AND the church). Maintainers hardly ever anticipate growth, but expect current plateaus to continue. Many view a major part of their role as postponing decline. Maintainers are faithful servants who work hard to maintain and shepherd their church, knowing that the long-term future for their church may, in fact, be in jeopardy if something doesn't drastically change. Many maintainers feel guilty about not having a growing church; or they may be quietly skeptical or criticize churches in their area that ARE growing. Since the majority of churches in America are plateaued or in decline, there are a lot of maintainers that serve churches today. (Interestingly, when many churches hire, they say they want to builder, breaker, or fixer when, in reality, they want a maintainer.) Many maintainers move from church to church rather frequently, hoping at first to build, break, or fix... only to find themselves slip back into maintainer mode. In fact, some churches beat their leaders into a maintainer role over time.
These buckets of church leaders are in no way exclusive. You can have one or more tendencies, but most usually one is more prominent than the others.
It's important to know which bucket you feel the most at home in.
Today's questions for you:
1. Which type of church leader are you? Which bucket do you find yourself in?
2. Are you ok with that? Do you feel comfortable in your role? Are you able to embrace who you are as a leader?
3. Do you fit where you are for the long-term?