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Why Situational Leadership Is Important in Ministry

To be an effective leader in the church, it is vital to understand and implement situational leadership. Situational leadership is a style of leadership that is based on the situation that you are in. Jesus used situational leadership throughout His ministry, even though the term did not exist at the time. By understanding and using situational leadership, you can become a more effective leader in your church.

Let's face it; a one-size-fits-all leadership style does not meet the demands of an increasingly diverse and growing ministry. Situational leadership offers a more flexible solution and builds healthy churches.

What is Situational Leadership?

The concept is relatively straightforward. Instead of sticking with what you know or think has always worked in certain circumstances, you adapt your leadership style to different circumstances.

If you want to learn how to be more effective in your community, or if your church or ministry has plateaued, then situational leadership can help you. This approach has many benefits.

Benefits of Situational Leadership

There are four primary benefits of situational leadership.

1. It's More Effective

The first benefit is that situational leadership is more effective than other leadership styles. This is because it is based on the premise that there is no one perfect way to lead. Each situation requires a different approach, and leaders must be able to adapt their style to the situation's needs.

2. It Builds Healthy Ministries

The second benefit of situational leadership is that it builds healthy churches. This is because it encourages leaders to develop relationships with those they lead. When you take the time to get to know people, you can better understand their needs and how best to lead them.

3. It Teaches Leaders to Be Flexible

The third benefit of situational leadership is that it teaches leaders to be flexible. This is a valuable skill because no two situations are exactly the same. Leaders who adapt their style to the situation's needs will be more successful than those who try to use the same approach in every situation.

4. It Is Christ-Centered

The fourth benefit of situational leadership is that it is Christ-centered. This means it focuses on following Jesus' example rather than the world's view of leadership. Think about all the situations in which Jesus showed leadership, from clearing the temple, washing feet, turning water into wine, healing, and the list goes on and on. When you lead in a way that is based on Jesus' example, you will be more effective and build healthier churches.

Situational Leadership - Assessing the Situation

The first step in using situational leadership is to assess the situation. This means considering factors such as the person's readiness, ability, and motivation.

1. Readiness

A person's readiness refers to their willingness and ability to do the task at hand. If someone is not ready to do something, then no amount of leadership will change that.

2. Ability

A person's ability refers to the skills and knowledge required to do the task. If someone cannot do something, they will need help to succeed.

3. Motivation

A person's motivation refers to their desire or drive to do the task. If someone is not motivated, they will not be successful no matter how much leadership they receive.

Choose the Appropriate Leadership Style:

Once you have assessed the situation, you can choose the appropriate leadership style. There are four primary leadership styles: telling, selling, participating, and delegating.

1. Telling

The first style is telling. The leader makes all the decisions and tells the followers what to do. As a leader, you will need to assess others' abilities. Willingness only goes so far. Your team must also be able to do the required tasks. You may want to administer tests or ask for self-assessments. This style is most appropriate when the follower is low in readiness and ability but high in motivation. Think about Jesus with the disciples early on in their ministry.

2. Selling

The second style is selling. This is when the leader tries to convince the follower to do something they may not be ready or willing to do. Evaluate how willing and enthusiastic followers are. Look for qualities like willingness to go above and beyond and enthusiasm for professional development. This style is most appropriate when the follower is low in readiness but high in ability and motivation.

3. Participating

The third style is participating. This is when the leader works with the follower to make decisions and accomplish tasks. This style is most appropriate when the follower is high in readiness and ability but low in motivation.

4. Delegating

The fourth style is delegating. This is when the leader gives the followers responsibility for a task and allows them to complete it independently. This style is most appropriate when the follower is high in readiness, ability, and motivation.

There are many factors to take into account when you’re working with a group. That includes the nature of your team and what you're trying to accomplish.

Understanding Your Options

Unless you’re a monk, you will need more than one outfit in your closet. In the same way, expanding your leadership skills will prepare you for various opportunities you’re likely to come across in today’s environment. Depending on the situation, multiple strategies may be effective, such as:

Provide direction

Sometimes leadership boils down to giving instructions. That may be the case if your team is limited in willingness or ability.

Offer to coach

At the same time, you may be able to offer more support and less direction as your team acquires more significant experience and forms stronger relationships. Create a culture of constructive feedback, high standards, and ongoing learning.

Delegate responsibility

Identify which tasks you need to do yourself and which you can hand over to someone else. This may include recurring activities or those that give others a chance to upgrade their skills. As a leader, I hand off as much as possible. After all, leadership is getting things done through others, not doing things myself.

Earn trust

Even if your role carries a high level of authority, it’s beneficial to build trust. Don't simply lean on your title. A team is more likely to succeed if they feel secure and respected. Strive to be consistent and objective. Communicate openly and take responsibility for your decisions.

Set an example

What does your behavior say about your character and abilities? Your team will notice what you do as well as what you say. They will see more what you do than what you say. Honor your commitments and work on your listening skills.

Build personal relationships

Meaningful connections and shared goals turn a group of individuals into a team. As a leader, it’s vital to establish rapport and show appreciation. Stay positive and approachable.

Identify talent

Who are the shining stars on your team? Create future leaders by spotting talent and nurturing it. Pay attention to potential and current performance, so you’ll be prepared for emerging needs and opportunities.

Successful leaders keep growing and applying what they learn. Developing your situational leadership skills can help you to advance your career while you help increase productivity and morale.


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