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30 Leadership Lessons from 30 Years at the Same Church

My own "30 for 30."
30 Leadership Lessons from 30 Years at the Same Church

ESPN produces a series of documentary films entitled 30 for 30. They highlight important people and events in sports history. Well, I’ve never pitched in a World Series or scored a winning touchdown, but I want to share my own ministry version of 30 for 30.

I came to be the pastor of our church on Sunday, October 26, 1986. Before we began our third of the five campuses we now have at Cross Church, our church was called First Baptist Church of Springdale, Arkansas.

In September of 1986, I came to preach with the hope of being called as pastor. After an extended weekend, the church voted to call me as pastor. The vote was 905 for and 12 against. One month later, our very young family left our home state of Texas and arrived in Arkansas driving an old orange suburban. On the last week of October of this year, I will have served as senior pastor of Cross Church for 30 years.

Simultaneously, I began serving in all kinds of roles and with many responsibilities in the Southern Baptist Convention. In the most recent two years of my life, I served as the President of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest protestant denomination in America. The Lord has also given me all sorts of opportunities to minister to evangelicals outside of our denomination.

Through all of these experiences, I have learned many lessons on leadership. Here are 30 of the most important lessons I have learned by leading the same church for 30 years:

1. Leadership is rallying people to a better future.

2. Vision is seeing it before you see it.

3. All people matter.

4. Put change in your pocket in relationships so you will have something to spend when you lead people.

5. Walk slowly through the crowd.

6. Limit time with people who deplete you, but expand time with people who replenish you.

7. Enjoy the special moments.

8. Learn from your defeats, but celebrate the victories.

9. Stay out of the ditches in your leadership.

10. Truth guides great leaders, not trends.

11. Do what is best for the organization.

12. Who surrounds you will define you.

13. Hire people slowly, but fire people quickly.

14. Wisdom, discernment, and timing are critical in decision making.

15. Do not sell out to keep any staff member.

16. Transition is inevitable, and strategic change always has a cost.

17. People who are highly critical of others will also be critical of you.

18. Never let anyone outside of your circle of love.

19. You can go faster alone but further with others.

20. Invite your opponents to help you formulate the future.

21. Lift the principles high and do not lose the vision on details.

22. Beware of mission drift and confront it.

23. Investing in leaders benefits the organization and extends your leadership influence.

24. Never believe all the good people say about you or you will also have to believe all the bad they say about you.

25. Leadership is comprised of various seasons.

26. Leadership longevity is possible when you learn to surf the waters of cultural and leadership change successfully.

27. Always start your day with God.

28. Generosity sets a leader apart from other leaders.

29. Build exercise and fitness into your life five to six days a week.

30. Not every hill is worth dying on.

This article first appeared on Ronnie Floyd’s personal blog here.

Ronnie Floyd is the Senior Pastor of Cross Church, immediate past President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and founder of the Cross Church School of Ministry.

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