First Third Conversations

Leadership and Management in your ministry context

Aaron FullerA blog post by Aaron Fuller

Question for ya: Are you a leader or a manager?

Before you answer, take a minute to hear me out -- while we often will acknowledge that leadership and management are not the same things, if you pick a part your role in ministry, there's a good chance you'll discover some pretty significant contradictions.

Let me put in this disclaimer: leadership and management are linked to some degree. It's not like you're one or the other. But here's what I've found in my relatively short time out in the world of ministry (as a layperson and as a professional): oftentimes we are assigned to be leaders, or think we're leading, when the truth is, we're functioning more as managers.

I've come across this quote: "Management is about doing things right. Leadership is doing the right things."

What I've come to understand is that management is about planning and execution, making sure things happen successfully and efficiently to produce a result. Leadership is primarily about integrity and character; it's about honesty in relationship with the other.

Take a look at this list, and see which of these descriptors describe you and the role you serve in:


  • Planning to get the work done
  • How work will be broken down into steps
  • How much time each step will take, the sequence of the steps, and what resources are needed
  • Monitoring the plan to see that the work goes according to plan
  • Taking constructive action on anything that deviates from the plan in an unconstructive way


  • Be a role model
  • Accept responsibility
  • Offer creative ideas for change
  • Genuinely respect people
  • See through others' eyes, meet their needs
  • Do your job with consistent excellence
  • Make people you work with more successful
  • Make difficult decisions that make a difference
  • Place priority in developing others

Well, which one are you? Manager or leader? Now here's the real million dollar question: which is required of you right now in your present ministry situation? And how can you tweak the way you think and how you relate with others to meet the challenges of the ministry you serve in?

I can't help you with the first or second questions…but I can give you a pointer with the third. Look at this list, reflect on it, and find someone -- maybe a mentor or a peer -- and talk about your "list." See what's needed in your ministry setting and what limitations are present.

Wanna learn more about this stuff? Check out this blog.

Author Bio:
Hi, my name is Aaron, and I'm just really interested in leadership.  After studying it and living it in a completely different setting, I'm now thinking about it in a new one: Ministry.

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