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The Importance of Guiding Principles

Posted: 7/25/19 at 1:00pm. Column by Craig Harwood.

I’m currently working with an international missions organization that has outgrown its original charter and needs to reset as a Board of Directors to ensure alignment and direction for the expanding ministry. 

Resetting a ministry direction often leaves a leader in a stall. Where do you begin? And if it’s time to reset or adapt to a new opportunity, how do you get a leadership group in your church or ministry all on the same page 

In these moments, ministry leaders will sometimes avoid opening the conversation to a broader group because they want to be seen as the person with God’s divine direction as his messengerlike Moses to the Israelites. This kind of action can leave you standing alone and struggling, because others haven’t been engaged to understand and align with your direction.

Opening a conversation to discern common guiding principles will avoid false starts and facilitate progress to a unified direction for the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you.

Opening a conversation to discern common guiding principles will avoid false starts and facilitate progress to a unified direction for the ministry the Lord has entrusted to you. Also, foundational and unifying guiding principles alleviate stress and bypass conflicts that can derail plans after you are well down the road toward a destination. 

Established guiding principles: 

  • Provide clarity with a common understanding of purpose that ensures everyone wants to be on the same journey 
  • Put you at ease when you begin to become overwhelmed or when trials cause you to secondguess yourself 
  • Facilitate and speed up decision making  
  • Offer assurance to a group moving forward together when obstacles and trials cross their paths 
  • Stand before you as guideposts and moments of validation as you seek the Lord’s blessing 
  • Enable you to manage or judge performance against these principles and more easily confront issues that might usually be avoided 

There aren’t many things sweeter to the soul of a leader than knowing the blessing of the Lord is over your ministry and also over those you are ministering with. Counsel and guidance are sought in many ways when you are searching for direction.  

Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. 

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. (Ps 1:1-3)  

  • Steal a moment from your busy schedule and consider the following questions: 
  • What drives my thinking and energy as I consider leading this ministry? 
  • How has the Lord validated these motivations? And how do I feel when I operate within the boundaries of these motivations? 
  • How do these motivations translate to guiding principles for me? 
  • Whom within my leadership can I share these principles with to validate and engage in? 

Taking the time to ensure you and your team are aligned to common principles is an essential investment. 

Craig Harwood has over 30 years of experience in corporate human resources and pastoring churches. He can be contacted at craig.t.harwood@gmail.com.