Qualifications of a great director of missions

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Over the course of the past year, I have had the privilege of serving with a team commissioned by a group called the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders. The conference, referred to as SBCAL, is a fraternity of Directors of Missions and others who serve in associations across the SBC. The team was asked to study the role of Director of Missions and offer any helpful suggestions for associations to strengthen their work. While the full report is available online and addresses subjects such as associational leader qualifications and proficiencies, as well as suggested job titles, and a few other matters, I want to share some of the findings here.

First, the report lists foundational proficiencies for those who lead association work. The list is as follows:

  • Called to Associational Leadership

Leading an association is fundamentally different than leading a church or other ministry, but it requires no less a calling to a specific position. Leading a collaborative system requires someone desiring to build coalitions and rely on sometimes diffused leadership systems, rather than employing more directive leadership styles at times.

  • Person of Character

The Bible is clear – leaders are held to a higher standard; therefore, the heart of associational leaders must be set on Christ in order that their behavior might be above reproach.

  • Spiritually Mature

It should go without mention that Christian leaders must be followers of Christ. But associational leaders must sometimes serve in emotionally charged environments where spiritual matters can be confused with personal preferences, and it takes considerable discernment and wisdom to assist churches in particularly trying times.

  • Commitment to Learning

Leading requires learning and continuing in leadership means continuing to learn. Associational leaders should have a lifelong combination of formal and informal education combined with the passion of a seeker and an explorer.

  • A Leader of Leaders

From the basic functions of a manager to the entrepreneurial skills of non-profit leaders such as donor cultivation and team building, associational leaders need an array of leadership tools at their disposal.

  • Trustworthy

For associational leaders to be most effective, churches must trust them. There will be times when the church must be vulnerable and expose their weaknesses, but they will not do that if they suspect such vulnerability might be taken advantage of, or that the associational leader is not trustworthy. As patients with a doctor, the patients trust a doctor to do no harm based on trust.

The report also listed relational proficiencies such as:

  • Emotionally Intelligent (EQ)

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognize and understand emotions in oneself and in others, the ability to use this awareness to manage one’s behavior and relationships, and understand the effect one’s emotions have on others.

  • Active Listener

Associational leaders are sometimes the only safe place available to pastors, but the ability to listen will play out in environments beyond counseling settings. Pastors often have no sounding board for ideas or out-of-the-box strategies, and active listening from associational leaders can often be a welcome source of help.

The associational leader should also strive to be a supportive coach, be authentically vulnerable, and a vocal encourager.

As for strategic proficiencies, the associational leader strives to be a vision caster, strategist, consultant, leadership multiplier, good communicator, and have a good contextual understanding.

Our Directors of Missions in Kentucky are great partners in the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s work of helping churches reach Kentucky and the world for Christ. As I consider the lists above and the other parts of the full report, I’m thankful for those who serve our associations in Kentucky, their calling, and the qualities of leadership they exhibit.

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One Comment

  1. Randy Joe McPheron
    Posted June 22, 2018 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

    I strive to live up to these qualities, am grateful for Dr. Chitwood’s insight & example!