The Qualities of Synergistic Leadership
We must be something before we do something. People today desire leaders to whom they can relate— those who are real and who serve in humility before Christ; those who are not afraid to reveal their weaknesses, knowing that others will work with them to compensate for their deficiencies. They know that in return they will help others to utilize the many talents and gifts God has given them. These leaders are necessary for the growth and health of the church. It is these kinds of leaders who have the confidence to synergize together with other leaders to reach their communities for Christ.
Synergistic leaders are not consumed with “territories” but with reaching the lost for Christ. They trust God to guide them as they build the synergistic church on the new frontier. It is a frontier that takes them far beyond anything they can ask or even imagine. It is a ministry that is truly beyond all limits.
Over the last twenty years, I have been asked a lot of questions regarding synergizing pastors and leaders toward the fulfillment of the Great Commission. I encourage you to read, my book entitled, How To Make Your Net Work, if you are serious about networking to accomplish a goal bigger than yourself. The question I have been asked the most is, “What is the greatest challenge you have faced in the building of the Global Church Network (GCNW.tv). The greatest challenge by far is the changing of mindsets of pastors, Christian leaders, and business leaders. How we view our world at large and the Body of Christ in this world, will determine how we set our missional goals in our community, country, and continents. We see the Church through the lens of who we truly are in life. With this before us, note carefully the differences between silo thinking and synergistic thinking.
Establishing Our Global Missional Goals
First, silo leaders set unrealistic global missional goals. Even though they believe the missional goal is realistic, over time it will become apparent that the goals are not realistic. Of course, if the goals are small, like growing the local church by 50 people over the previous year or increasing the organization by 10% in the next twelve months, then, the silo leader can most likely figure out a plan to achieve it. However, when it comes to fulfilling the Great Commission, it is not just impractical, but impossible for one person or one organization to accomplish it.
Why is the silo approach unrealistic? With the growth of the global population, now at eight billion, headed to nine billion in the next ten years; it is not remotely possible for a silo person or organization to complete the Great Commission.
Synergistic leaders set realistic global missional goals. They know from the beginning that it is not possible to accomplish the Great Commission by themselves or by their organization/denomination alone. These leaders take the long look instead of the short look in ministry. They believe it is possible to grow their local churches and/or their organizations/denominations, while at the same time synergizing with others toward finishing the Great Commission.
Enlarging Our Global Missional Value
Second, silo leaders often possess a spirit of superiority. These leaders believe that their doctrine and distinctives are superior to everyone else’s. The distinctives often come first, while trying to finish the Great Commission at the same time. Yet, this is only possible, if the the vision of finishing the Great Commission does not have a specific date to it. A vision becomes a goal when we put a date to it.
I learned this leadership lesson more than 20 years ago. On one occasion, I was visiting with a leader friend of a major denomination in his office. While we were talking, he began to share condescending words about a close another leader friend of mine. The essence of the words being shared with me was if this leader was like him, then he could have accomplished more in his life. While he was sharing this, I thought to myself, he does not even know my friend or know the prayer life of him.
When our meeting was over, when I got into my car to drive home, I prayed, “Lord, please teach an important networking lesson from this encounter.” The Lord whispered to me, “It is always easier to network with a person who knows there is more of the Lord and hungry to experience it, than it is to work with a person who believe he/she has it all and no longer hungry.”
Synergistic leaders practice a spirit of humility. They realize upfront that they are not the “gospel sheriff.” They choose the onramp of relationships throughout their city or throughout the Body of Christ. Synergistic leaders do not push down what God has raised up. They take the time to get to know fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ.
We must make sure that we do not become tree huggers. Tree huggers used to believe that it is wind that moves the leaves, that moves the limbs, that move the tree. Yet, today, they believe they can shake the tree to move the limbs and the leaves. We must never forget, if we are going to finalize the Great Commission, it is the wind of the Spirit, that moves the leaves, that moves the limbs, and the tree. We could never do this alone, no matter how big we have become.
The late Dr. Bill Bright, the Founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (Today; Cru), used to say to me, “The main issue is not how long we can live, but how long we can love. A lot of leaders have stopped loving a long time before they stopped living.” Repeatedly, the Apostle Paul said, “love all the saints” and to “pray for all the saints.” Do you love all the saints? Do you pray for all the saints?
When it comes to achieving a local, national, or global missional goal of evangelism and discipleship, humble synergistic leaders reach out to tie relational knots to build a net that works. No knot, no net. They keep the main thing the main thing. And the main thing for a synergistic leader is to keep the main the main thing. The main thing is finalizing the Great Commission.
Examining Our Global Missional Members
Third, silo leaders often focus on egos and logos. They view their church name or denomination name as the brand. I remember receiving an invitation to go and speak to a significant organization about networking. The leader shared with me, “We really desire to learn how to network, but we are concerned about losing our brand.”
Please do not misunderstand. When the Lord calls us to begin a church or an organization, it is important that we represent and steward our ministry. I fully subscribe to this responsibility and mentality. Yet, there are those individuals who come only to pick fruitful relationships for their cause and not the greater cause, the Great Commission. Some years ago, I watched a well-known author have the unethical audacity to meet with leaders in our green room at the biennial Synergize Conference (Synergize.tv) to raise money for his organization. He was so siloed that he was willing to not only pick the fruit that he did not grow but receive an offering from where he did not sow.
Synergistic leaders focused on we go instead of egos and logos. An old African proverb is: If you wish to go fast, go alone; if you wish to go far, bring others with you. Just think about this truth for a moment. In every glorious endeavor, in every grand business, in every great athlete, there is a “we go.” I challenge you to research history and you will conclude, that if I am going to move from success to significance, I am going to need a lot of amazing friends in my life. While the silo leader is willing to die for doctrinal distinctives, the synergistic leader believes it is possible to respect all the different distinctives in the Body of Christ and complete the Great Commission at the same time.
As it relates to synergizing, mobilizing and finalizing the Great Commission, the we go philosophy is a must in order to cross the finish line. For too long, many of us have been in the wishing circle instead of the winning circle. The wishing circle is filled with egos and logos, but the winning circle is filled with the we go.
Synergistic leaders realize that the brand is Jesus and not their local church, parachurch or denomination. Jesus is the greatest magnetic force of all. Yet, over the last 25 years, particularly in the Western world, local churches have adopted the attraction model instead of the missional model. In other words, if we can make our local church appealing enough people will come. I believe we should vacuum the church, clean our bathrooms, have excellent music, incredible preaching and a phenomenal website. I believe all of this and more.
Nevertheless, the greatest and grandest magnetic force of all time is Jesus Christ. We will not find anywhere in the New Testament, where the lost are commanded to attend the local church. However, we will find commandments where we are told to go out and compel them to come to the house of God. If we would make “Jesus the brand,” and lift Him as high as possible, our churches will grow, and our denominations and fellowships will glow!
Exemplifying Our Global Missional Commitment
Silo leaders are often selfish regarding the harvest. They find it difficult to share the harvest, because they are convinced that their doctrinal view is more accurate than others. As a result of this, not only will they fail at finalizing the Great Commission, they do not have as many friends as they possibly could. This approach to ministry is one of a small pie mentality instead of an unlimited pie ministry.
Synergistic leaders share regarding the harvest. I am sure you are familiar with the story of Peter fishing all night and not catching any fish. Then, in the morning, though exhausted, Peter meets Jesus. Jesus commands him to cast his nets on the other side of the boat. There is a miraculous catch of fish, and the nets are breaking. Peter has a huge decision to make and does not have much time to make it. If he decides to keep all of the fish and try to get them in the boat, he will lose the entire catch and have an empty net. What does Peter do? He calls for the other boats nearby. There was enough fish to fill Peter’s boat and the other boats.
Synergistic leaders know that the Church does not have a shortage of fish, but a shortage of laborers. Jesus said, “the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.” We give praise to the Lord for the growth of the Church worldwide and for the great number of laborers. Yet, we do not have enough laborers to finish the Great Commission.
Are you willing to share the fish and trust the Lord with His harvest? The harvest is not ours. We do not save the lost; but only present the Gospel to them. Jesus does the saving, and we do the discipling. The saving work is the easiest work. Jesus can save anyone. Discipling is the hardest work the local church or the Church does each year.
The silo leader tries to bring the breaking net into his/her boat. The synergistic leader invites the other boats to join him/her in gathering the harvest. He or she knows it is far better to share the harvest and have multiple boats filled, rather than lose the harvest altogether. Are you willing to share the harvest, even if it means that newly saved people end up in a different church or denomination or fellowship?
Evaluating Our Long-term Missional Success
Last, but not least, silo leaders and synergistic leaders measure success differently. Silo pastors some time celebrate that his/her local church is growing while his/her city remains lost year after year. I am sure that this is not intentional. Synergistic pastors rejoice with the growth of their churches but at the same time allocates 10% to 15% of their time to building relational bridges into their community and city.
Several years ago, I was fortunate to minister in a local church for nearly two weeks in revival services. The Lord was saving the lost, ministering to the sick and empowering believers. While I was there, on one afternoon, I was fortunate to teach the lead team of the church. After our teaching session, I mentioned to the pastor, that when I depart for the hotel, I was thinking about driving across the street to try to meet the pastor of a different church of a different denomination. When I mentioned this, the pastor said, “Please do not do this.” I responded, “Why not?”
He said, “I have never walked or driven across the street to meet him.”
My response was, “Do you believe he is on our team? Do you realize that you will never win, much less reach this large city without him?
The silo leader can grow his or her church, but will not reach his or her city, nation or world. The synergistic leader will grow and go and not dry and die. Are you silo leader or a synergistic leader? We are called and commissioned to finish the Great Commission. We have enough money, members, models, methods to compete our assignment. There is only one missing ingredient. Do you know what this is? Motivation.