How to Thrive in Your Leadership

Thriveverb, meaning:

  1. to prosper; be fortunate or successful.
  2. to grow or develop vigorously; flourish.

As pastors and ministry leaders, we all want to thrive. We want to see our ministries grow and be successful, but we also want to develop and flourish in our leadership, too.

Becoming a thriving leader doesn’t happen overnight.

Under any normal circumstances, it takes intentionality and commitment to begin to feel like we’re truly thriving. But one thing we’re all learning in this season is just how quickly things can change. Our definition of success has shifted and our goals have shifted with it.

So how can we truly begin to thrive as pastors and ministry leaders in this season? Here are some thoughts on what it looks like to thrive in your leadership.

Thriving leaders think daily about inputs and occasionally about outputs.

It’s always a good idea to choose to play the long game instead of the short game. This means doing the simple things every day that will accumulate interest and pay off down the road.

Being obedient to the everyday, seemingly mundane tasks will help build momentum and strengthen our ministry muscles. It’s these daily inputs that will create the results we want to see later. Focusing on the things we can measure, like bodies in seats or number of baptisms, won’t help accomplish our goals. These measurable results come out of intentional inputs and habits done consistently.

The same is true with relationships within our ministries. Whether with staff members or volunteers, it’s the daily inputs that we invest into the relationships around us that will empower people.

If we want to produce leaders in our organizations, we have to remember to focus more on how we’re investing in our people, not on who we hope they’ll become.

Everyone grows at their own pace, and it takes patience and consistency to develop thriving leaders and disciples.

But what about goals? How can we set them if we’re intentionally focused on the inputs?

Craig Groeschel talks about input goals at the beginning of his podcast episode, Embracing Change: Part 1. He reminds us that as leaders, we can control the input, but we can’t control the outcome. That’s why we have to make sure we’re setting the right kind of goals.

Input goals are goals based on what we can control — these are goals based around the effort and investment that we put in.

These goals are informed by the desired outcome or result that we want to achieve, but aren’t focused on those outputs. Instead, they’re focused on what we’re going to do to get there. For example, if we want to run a marathon, our input goals may be to simply run for 30 minutes a day.

Thriving as a ministry or as a pastor is always attainable, no matter the season. Whether in the middle of a national pandemic or a season of revival, we can truly flourish if we keep our focus daily on inputs and occasionally on the outputs.


So how can we begin thinking about daily inputs and setting input goals?

Try thinking S.M.A.R.T.

Set input goals by following the S.M.A.R.T. model:

  • SPECIFIC – Setting specific goals brings clarity and shared understanding of what the goal means.
  • MEASURABLE – These types of goals will have a measurable number or percentage based on inputs, not on outcome.
  • ACTION ORIENTED – Your goals should help you think through what action steps you’ll need to take to gain needed skills or knowledge to help reach your desired outcome.
  • REALISTIC – Goals are always meant to challenge and grow you, but it’s also important to make sure your goals are still very achievable for you or your ministry to accomplish.
  • TIME FRAME – Be sure to set a start date and completion date that you can keep in front of you or your team for accountability.

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