Raymond L. Wheeler, DMin

Musings about leadership


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Lift Your Management Skill to a New Level


Lift: Five Practices Great Managers do Consistently is now available on Amazon! Why another book on management? Because managers have a difficult job and need support and encouragement. The skills great managers engage to lift the morale and performance of their teams are within the reach of anyone who applies these five practices. I am inspired by what great managers accomplish in their teams. I have worked as a manager in the private and non-profit sectors. Managing can be rewarding.

I set out to determine what made great managers great. I saw that great managers help their employees thrive and increase performance – but I wanted to know what they did to get there. So, I interviewed, observed, and researched the activities of great managers. My quest resulting in identifying five practices all great managers employ. Great managers develop high-performance employees by instilling a sense of ownership instead of being a dictator, working facts rather than emotion, getting to know their people and themselves, managing activities instead of harping on results, and building a climate of hope, not cynicism. (See Case Studies here.)

I ask hard questions about management practices and provide insights with real-world examples. This isn’t just a feel-good nod to management, it is a collection of easy to use tools and exercises designed to instill the five practices all great managers have in common.

I wrote this book to give managers a way forward to improve the way they manage their teams. LIFE: Five Practices Great Managers Do Consistently is available now on Amazon in paperback and Kindle versions. Buy it today and start on a journey of discovery and change!


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How the nature of relationship intersects with the organizational structure found in the local church


customersIt isn’t uncommon today to find remnants of the mindset of the industrial revolution in how the church thinks about structure. The mechanistic assumptions so predominate in business and non-commercial structures throughout the 20th century often seeped their way into church governance here in the west in the adoption of a corporate organizational authentication for tax purposes.  The emergence of the church growth movement contributed to this same mechanistic set of assumptions in that it often uncritically adopted effectiveness driven assumptions that placed relationships in a subordinate position to growth and self-preservation in the church. This propensity to mechanize organizational structures to gain efficiency and effectiveness fall short in that they stumble over the reality that people are involved. One business writer commented that a well-known shoe company’s heavy investment in TQM was undone by one guy in the order fulfillment department who purposely stuffed two right foot shoes or two left foot shoes in a single box. When asked why he was doing this he responded that his manager had treated him poorly and his actions were revenge because his manager’s bonus depended on consistently accurate order fulfillment.

Similarly, church leaders can tell their own stories about how one person’s or pastor’s vindictiveness held the entire organizational structure of a congregation hostage and leveraged a mechanistic structure to redefine reality or expectations of what the community of the church should be.

What makes the church so unique is that Jesus set the cornerstone of the church’s structure firmly in healthy relationships. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:8-10)

Jesus outlines the task (remain in love) and the outcome (bear fruit) that make up the parameters of the church’s organization. Based on what Jesus modeled, love (or the organizational structure of the local congregation) is characterized by truth-telling, forgiveness, support, instruction, insight, inquiry, missional focus, and developmental bias. Love is not an afterthought or optional component to the relationships Jesus expected of the disciples as they continued his ministry. Love and its characteristics are the core feature that determines the legitimacy of the church.

Relationships are not an intersection in the organizational structure of the church they are the constituting frame that allows for the diversity of gifting, outcomes, and methods inherent in the works of God operating through the church. Relationships define the church’s purpose and its method. For example: does the organization accept responsibility i.e., bear fruit as outlined in Luke 4:18-19? Does the organization evaluate its context and behavior with truthfulness? Does the organization generate restored relationships, maturing behavior, continuous insight into what God is doing? If relationships serve only to intersect with a structure that is built on some other foundation (e.g., mechanistic) then relationship fails to be the nucleus and becomes a secondary add-on that is not elemental to effective and efficient operational systems. Organizational structures that push relationships to a secondary status inevitably become toxic and a contradiction to missio Dei.

So, how do you functionally define the structure of your congregation? Perhaps it’s time to sit with your leadership team and review what makes the structure of your congregation really tick.