“A tree falls the way it leans. Be careful how you lean” (The Lorax) Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? That a tree would fall to whatever side it’s leaning. When it comes to leadership do I lean to the shopkeeper side or the agent side?
In my first interview out of college years ago, I remember my soon to be boss asking me what my approach to ministry was. Well, as you can imagine, as an idealistic know it all fresh from the halls of a learned institution, I had no idea. In that meeting he told me that he was not looking for someone with a “shopkeepers approach” to
ministry. That term has stuck with me ever since that day.
A shopkeepers approach to ministry operates out of status quo. A shopkeeper finds great joy in doing things the way they’ve always been done. If something worked once, it will surely work again. A shopkeeper finds ways to keep things neat and tidy. Messes with people or programs are not what the shopkeeper wants to deal with.
Let’s face it, ministry is exhausting. The constant phone calls in the middle of the night, the counseling sessions, the training of staff for new ministry assignments, and the never ending recruiting are enough to make even Superman tired. It is so much easier to lean towards the role of shopkeeper. To get things up and running and to ensure that they remain that way. All neat and tidy.
An agent leader is one who advocates for all involved. An agent is someone who’s role is to make the lives of others better. When I see myself as an agent rather than a shopkeeper, I can make a difference in the lives of families for the long-term. An agent leader is a doer. An agent doesn’t just make change for change’s sake, but rather, sees a need and then moves accordingly. He’s willing to take risks for the good of those he serves.
An agent leader is compassionate. He will seek to truly understand the needs of the families he serves. A shopkeeper knows what is best for all and acts accordingly.
An agent leader is bold. She will move and act when necessary. She will confront problems and deal with things as they arise, no matter how uncomfortable. A shopkeeper turns away from conflict and confrontation, assuming the problem will work itself out.
An agent leader is decisive. He knows how to make the tough decisions and when to act. Shopkeepers are wishy washy and may never make moves to benefit the forward movement of their ministry.
Agent leaders are wise. She will know when something is worth falling upon her word for or when it’s time to compromise for the good of the team. The shopkeeper either forges headlong into battle with guns blazing or cowers in fear. This will never benefit those we serve.
A leader motivates movement in others based upon the way in which they lean. Which way do you lean?