Later this week I am going to Austin for a diocesan youth retreat. The retreat is called “Convergence,” and it’s supposed to be about fostering the development of young leaders in the church.


So they’ve asked me to give a workshop on leadership skills in the church. (My wandering mind goes to Napoleon Dynamite: “nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills.”)

And my workshop is the very last workshop in this multi-day retreat. I expect that the kids will be bushed by that time.

Here’s my question to you – and please respond in the comments section:

What are the most necessary skills for a church leader to possess/exhibit/practice?

13 thoughts on “Skills

  1. Not sure if this is a skill but I would think that a big thing is to have a sense of adventure. Church is a journey with twists and turns, laughter and tears, ups and downs, falsehoods and truths. Being able to navigate all of that and to help out as a tour guide for parishioners/followers/believers/skeptics would be the skill that I’d hope leaders are able to execute on.

  2. The ability to adjust communication style and methods so that the leader is understood by as many as possible. I believe it is also important to identify the strengths of individuals and match them with ministries or tasks that play to those skills.

    1. Love it. And yeah, flexibility and creativity is essential. I find myself doing that a lot in my ministry. I communicate with some parishioners through Facebook, but others through good old-fashioned mail.

      The bit about matching strengths can be exhausting, because it requires the leader to know the people well. Exhausting, but fruitful. How does that sound?

  3. It is my belief through the acts of the apostles that good leaders should be willing to listen to the needs of the people they are leading and “act” to have their needs met. Point of reference when widows needs were not met and Stephen was given charge to see to it. See Acts 6.
    Good leaders also pray for their people when they are unable to be physically present to the needs of those they lead, as Jesus did before he left this world. John 17

    Said simply: hear pray do and pray again.

  4. Fr. Jimmy: I believe you just demonstrated one of the most important skills of any effective leader. You asked for imput from those you lead. I believe if you combine a true desire to invlove your people in the process at hand with a heavy dose of humilty, people will follow you because they believe in you and helped decide the path to your destination..

    1. Ahhh, so you saw that I’m sneaky! I think you’re right on. Empowering others is so crucial. It’s easy for people to get consumed with themselves and want to do everything. Letting go and trusting others (which shows a lot of humility) can be a tough lesson to learn.

  5. This might sound weird, but I think it is important that church leaders show their emotions. I feel that many people believe that church leaders are always happy, but we all know that isn’t necessarily true. Being happy, angry, and upset (just examples, obviously) reveal that someone is truly living. And by this, I think a skill that church leaders should show is vulnerability – that we should all be comfortable to reveal our emotions and nature within our church. If we can’t reveal that in the church then we most likely can’t reveal that in the real world. I feel like I’m rambling, but I guess showing that “we’re all the same” and truly “sharing the same struggles” is a good skill/quality that church leaders should exhibit. Hopefully this makes sense!

  6. A spiritual leader needs to lead the team effort. People respond better when asked to contribute their talents when everyone works together. That means the leader never asks “the troops” to do something that the leader won’t do himself. A spiritual leader needs to be patient. Good things sometimes develop slowly and it is what happens in the long haul not just immediately that will matter.

  7. coming to this late after a vacation… I would say first listening and then discerning. Often church tries to ‘fill’ empty spots in ministry with those eager to ‘help’, when what is sometimes needed is to let ministries change to give those who become empowered opportunities to create new ministry that revitalizes our “we’ve always done it/ had it…. this way” thinking. A leader who listens is giving a great gift and one that enhances the ministry of the people. Blessings as you participate and contribute at the retreat.

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