My journey in ministry has been one of the biggest blessings that I have ever had. It was a little over 7 years ago when I walked through the doors of an amazing church that quickly became my very first church family. I wasn’t sure what I was walking into-however, the love that was provided and the investment that was poured into me was something that I will never forget. It has played a significant role in where I am today. As a result, I have not only grown as a leader, but also as a wife, mother, friend, sister, daughter and follower of Christ.
Danielle Hazlett serves as the Kid's Director at Next Level Church, where she oversees the kid's ministry across all NLC locations and equips the kids team leads so that they can raise up a generation of world changers. Danielle and her husband, Joe, together with their daughter live in Saco, Maine.
Every once and a while you need to drop everything and re-find yourself. I say re-find
yourself because life is a journey, and it will compete for every inch of who you are while
pulling you in a hundred different directions. Usually when this happens, we drift towards
what has worked for others by reading book after book, leadership magazines, podcasts,
and attending conferences. Of course, there is nothing wrong with any of these and they
are all beneficial in their own way, but through the search of building ourselves into the
leaders we desire to be, it’s scary how easy it is to drift away from the leader you are
meant to be.
I spent an intense year in Washington, D.C. in 2015-2016 as a Protege for National
Community Church which was such an amazing experience that will forever be applied
to who I am as a leader. One of my main goals for that year was to find my signature as
a leader. For years I had over saturated myself with so much information from books on
leadership and followed every big name leader/pastor you could think of. I guess you
could say I was becoming a leadership junkie.
I was on leadership overload.
Now, to this day I love to read books on leadership and I think we should always strive to feed our minds to keep us on the cutting edge, but there are a few things that I’ve learned
through all of this to protect myself as a leader.
1. Don’t relive somebody else's legacy, live your own legacy
I feel like we are almost programmed today to look a certain way, act a certain way, and
live a certain way. Society does an AMAZING job today at creating cookie cutter people
starting at a very young age. You’ve got young girls trying to look like and act like
what magazines are telling them to look and act like. You’ve got boys that are following
the images of what a boy should look or act like. And I think it's safe to say that we as
adults and leaders can fall into the same cookie cutter trap if we’re not careful. The
temptation is real, the temptation to be like somebody else who is extremely successful
as a leader, but by giving in we lose the legacy we were meant to live out in Christ.
2. What outweighs time spent with God will outweigh you as a leader
This is more prevalent today than we’d like to admit. The temptation is real. The
temptation to give everything we’ve got to everything else except for that sacred place where we come face to face with God’s presence. We’re seeing more than ever today amazing leaders drifting way off course because we supply, and we supply, and we supply--and eventually, we lose touch with the Supplier. If I’m honest, this is something I’m constantly fighting for because if I lose my time with God, I lose as a leader, and I rob from
somebody else what I could have poured into them.
3. Stay true to yourself
There is a time to saturate yourself with information on becoming the leader you were
meant to be, but then there’s a time to graduate and become that leader God has called
you to be. Find your own voice and stay true to the calling God has placed on your life.
You and I have been called to something greater than we could ever imagine,
but we’ll never find it if we’re on leadership overload.
Brad Deprey has been a Pastor now for 13 years everywhere from Florida, Northern Maine, and Washington D.C. His deepest passion in ministry is to provide a safe place for people who are scared of stepping foot into a church or who have been hurt by the church. Brad was on staff at National Community Church in Washington, D.C. as a Campus Pastor Protege for a year in 2015-2016. Near the end of the program he started feeling God calling him and his family back to New England to serve as a location pastor with Next Level Church. He also oversees groups at NLC as Small Groups Director. He is married to his amazing barista of a wife Tracey (for going on 14 yrs) and they have two rockstar children.
I am sure you have read your fair share of leadership books, watched a ton of vlogs, and downloaded so many podcasts your smart phone is out of storage. With that being said, what I hope to do is to simply remind you of a few things you already know and potentially encourage you to reignite the fires of leadership.
John Maxwell defines leadership as influence. The more influence you have with people the more people will follow you. If we are going to accept the idea that leadership is influence, then we have to look at the influence that we have with the people around us.
How do we gain, maintain, and increase our influence?
Influence is gained through relationships and serving those around you. I truly believe the old adage that says, “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. As we show people that we care about them and begin to pour into their lives both personally and professionally, the natural byproduct is influence. The more people believe you care about them the more trust they will put into your influence.
If influence is gained through relationships and serving those around us then it is maintained by continuing to do these things. Willingness to do the tasks that you may see as insignificant to serve those who follow you is important. Far too often, leaders lose their humility and step dangerously close to the pride line. When we begin to see tasks as below us, we then begin to view the people that do those tasks as below us as well. This is dangerous territory my friends!
Once you have a team of people that trust you, you can increase your influence by giving it away. I know this statement may seem inconsistent with the modern thinking that more is always better but when it comes to influence, the way to get more is addition by subtraction. Empowering those you lead to begin to use their influence to care for and serve others will ultimately build the team and your influence. Craig Groecshel says, “Vision Leaks, Culture Drifts. So recast and course correct often”. The people in your organization need to be regularly set back on course.
As leaders or influencers, it is critical that we make sure that the people we lead are headed in the direction set for us by the top-level leaders in the organization. As a Location Pastor for Next Level Church, I need to continually remind the people I serve of the culture, values, and vision set by God through our Leadership Team.
As a leader in your organization, it is your responsibility to increase your influence by building a team that can keep the vision and culture. Keep in mind, no matter how much influence you give away, you can never stop leading. The top doesn’t stop!
Pastor Bobby & Dawn Brown, along with their children, are dynamic leaders with decades of ministry experience. They love to pastor people, share Jesus, and see others discover and grow in a personal relationship with God. Bobby is the Location Pastor at Next Level Church- FishHawk Florida. He and Dawn have been married for 21 years and they have 2 children (Alexis 19, Elijah 15).