It’s hard to believe that Cornerstone Church Network is six and half years old! And what a time it’s been, especially the last three years, as we have expanded our mission to encourage, equip and resource pastors. Each week Warren Schuh, Carol Childress and I discuss items of importance that facilitate our mission. Our discussions are lively, direct, humorous and innovative and I always learn something from them. I am so grateful to Warren and Carol and what they bring to CCN is invaluable. They consistently remind me of what has to happen if you are going to lead an effective organization. While I know for sure that we will never be finished nor satisfied with what we are doing at CCN, here are some of the most important things I have learned over these last six years at Cornerstone.
The first thing is trust. I was saddened to learn about Stephen Covey’s recent death. His books have made a profound impact in my own leadership style. His recent book, “The Speed of Trust” is extremely useful when it comes to talking about leadership. Trust is the foundation to any change within an organization. Without trust you are dead in the water. I deeply trust Carol and Warren to make decisions that will move us ahead without always checking with me. I don’t even have to understand what they do at times but I always trust their competence and wisdom.
Second, I have learned that a team has to be fervently passionate about the vision and direction of the organization. If they are luke warm about what you are doing, you either need to convince them that what they are doing is important or as Jim Collins says, “Help them get off the bus.”
Third, in the beginning, you need to have limited, achievable objectives. At the beginning of CCN, we tried to be all things to all people. You might be able to do that if you are superhuman and have unlimited resources but even then it would be difficult. One of the things that our team has developed over the course of time is small achievable goals that are actually helping us gain momentum. Rather than trying to do something we can’t, we try to under promise and over deliver.
Fourth, leadership teams or networks or associations are so much more than an event. They are part of a process that has KINGDOM stamped all over it. The pastors and leaders we work with realize that they are not in this alone. They realize that they need help but also understand that they are one piece of a giant puzzle that God is using to bring the world unto Him.
Fifth, relationships are everything. We have become friends with the pastors we are privileged to serve. We take time to get to know them and we encourage them to get to know us. We do that so we know best how we can serve them. We are in this for the long haul. After two and a half years, one pastor that I was coaching through another partnership of CCN asked me “So when this ends are we through?” I had to laugh. I told him it’s just the beginning. If he wanted to continue with CCN, it would be our pleasure.
Probably the most difficult learning for me, if I am honest enough, is to engage the tough issues. I make mistakes – tons of them. There are times when there are really tough decisions and I would prefer to just ignore them. I have been confronted and challenged and every time it happens, I have to go deep and ask God for his help and guidance. It takes courage to admit you are wrong and to take your medicine. But I realize that I am human. I just try to not make the same mistake twice!
If I have learned anything, it is that I want people to work with me, not for me. I think we have created a culture of innovation, honesty, trust and respect for each other and we still manage to have fun. As I finish this article, my heart is overflowing with gratitude for Carol and Warren. Without them CCN would still be back at stage one-whatever that was.
CCN is still growing, evolving and learning. I hope we never change from that.