The work of transitional ministry requires a certain type of leader. Experience and background matters but it’s more than that. So whether you’re in the trenches doing this work or looking to find someone to help a congregation in transition, consider these 4 C’s as you look for leadership during transition.
First C - Character
Character is at the heart of the transitional leader. It is who you both in private and in the public arena. It defines you. It’s expressed by what people say about you after you’re gone (from the room or from this earth!).
Good character is expressed by the qualities found in 1 Corinthians 13 (applied so well to servant leadership by James Hunter in his bookThe Servant):
· Patience - showing self control
· Kindness - giving attention, appreciation and encouragement
· Humility - being authentic and without pretense or arrogance
· Respectfulness - treating others as important people
· Selflessness - meeting the needs of others
· Forgiveness - giving up resentment when wronged
· Honesty - being free from deception
· Commitment - sticking to your choices
Thankfully character is something you can develop as you use muscles such as self-awareness and spiritual discipline to grow yourself.
Of these eight character qualities where are you strong?
Where is there room for improvement?
Second C - Competency
Transitional leaders require a certain skill set to do their job well. Competencies are those abilities or behaviors that enable you to do your job properly and with effectiveness. The transitional leader often is required to be somewhat of a generalist yet needs certain core competencies to be most effective.
Core competencies include:
· Leading - the ability to influence people to work enthusiastically towards agreed upon goals and actions in order to reach a desired outcome.
· Coaching - the ability to listen carefully, ask powerful questions and guide the process of discovering God’s agenda and bringing it into reality.
· Shepherding - the ability to provide loving pastoral support and care for those you serve.
· Facilitating - the ability to come alongside a group of people and make their journey, process or conversation easier or less difficult.
· Communicating - the ability to assimilate and clearly present information through spoken and written word during positive or negative circumstances.
There are more competencies we could list but these five are essential for effective transitional leaders. Greater strength in certain areas is normal yet basic proficiency in all five is possible with training and growth.
Would you add or subtract any competency to this core list?
How will you keep developing in these five competencies?
Third C - Chemistry
Chemistry is all about your fit with the context and culture you are going into. It includes values, mindset, worldview and approach. It also includes both parties being able to say, “I can’t explain it but we just click.” The better you fit the context, the more effective your ministry will be.
Three benefits when you have chemistry:
· You and the leaders gel quickly allowing the work to begin ASAP.
· The level of tension and potential conflict will be reduced.
· Morale will be higher and the work will be more enjoyable.
To know how well you fit, requires proper assessment of both the leader and the congregation. Time spent “knowing yourself” will pay off in the long run.
For the transitional leader ask - Who am I and where do I best fit?
For the congregation ask - Who are we and what kind of leader fits here?
Fourth C - Calling
To be effective in transitional ministry, God’s call to this work is essential. Transitional ministry is not just a “job” but is an expression of the grace of God working through you.
Not so long ago God called me to a part time transitional assignment. At the time, I wasn’t sure I even wanted the job but then I read Jeremiah and received my “call”.
“But you—up on your feet and get dressed for work! Stand up and say your piece. Say exactly what I tell you to say. Don’t pull your punches or I’ll pull you out of the lineup. Stand at attention while I prepare you for your work. I’m making you as impregnable as a castle, immovable as a steel post, solid as a concrete block wall. You’re a one-man defense system against this culture, against Judah’s kings and princes, against the priests and local leaders. They’ll fight you, but they won’t even scratch you. I’ll back you up every inch of the way” (Jeremiah 1:17-19 TM).
This word to Jeremiah became God’s word for me and my work with this congregation. The “call” kept me going through tough meetings and hard conversations but also brought moments of meaningful ministry.
How has God clarified His call to you?