Leading and Managing

Leading and Managing: What’s The Difference?

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(Excerpt borrowed with permission from the Southwest District Superintendent’s Blog)

Are you acting in the roles of leadership and/or management?

Last week, in discussion with SWD HOPE Ministry Co-Director David Burrell, we remarked to one another how launching into a project, even in turbulent circumstances when the way was still being charted, was not a problem for either one of us. He remarked jokingly, “Yes, that is us sometimes, ‘fire … ready … aim.’”

I admire David Burrell and Martin Ramirez, also Co-Director of SWD HOPE Ministry, because of what they are doing “outside the four walls of the church building” in the King’s ministry. Please do support them with your prayers, strength, resources, and ministry partnership.

Challenges of Leading vs. Managing

That challenge of the sequence of “ready … aim … fire” addresses the challenges of leading versus managing.  In a recent article by Rick Warren, he says, “Vision is the main difference between leadership and management. Management consists primarily of three things: analysis, problem-solving, and planning. If you go to any management course, they’ll be composed of those three things. But leadership consists of vision and values and the communication of those things. If you don’t clarify the purposes as the leader, who’s going to?”

“Most churches are over-managed and under-led. Your church needs to be managed, but it also needs to be led. You must have both. When you only have management in the church, you get the problem of paralysis of analysis. It’s like “Ready … Aim … Aim … Aim …” And they never fire. Management without leadership results in constantly analyzing and looking, but never actually doing anything.

Don’t get me wrong. You need managers within the church as well. Without them, you end up with a church that says, “Ready … Fire!” without ever taking the time to aim. You need both.” (Excerpt from, “Vision: The Crucial Difference Between Managing and Leading, By Rick Warren – August 3, 2020.)  You can read his entire article following this link:  https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/259460-crucial-difference-managing-leading.html/2

Which Role are You Fulfilling?

In the field of Christian ministry, you will most likely find yourself being both a leader and a manager. Rick Warren has offered us insight into the difference with a concise metric to determine which role we are currently fulfilling.  It is important to know which hat you are wearing when you are serving in your ministry role. It is like being a family person. It is important to know when you are fulfilling the role of child, parent, spouse, or other relative.

It is important to know which hat you are wearing when you are serving in your ministry role. - Chip Hinds Click To Tweet

Choices and behaviors outside the role appropriate for present circumstances usually will not yield the intended results. Acting like the child to your spouse seldom if ever culminates in the best relationship. Then, why would we expect managing to yield the same results as leading and vice versa? Yes, they are related, and both are necessary. But there is a clear distinction.

Here is the metric to clarify which role you are fulfilling at any given moment: you want to ask yourself whether you are leading or managing. And please, do not justify weak leadership because you are a better manager or weak management because you are a better leader. Do each one to the best of your abilities, and the Holy Spirit will graciously produce fruit in your ministry. Management consists primarily of three things: 1) analysis, 2) problem-solving, and 3) planning. But leadership consists of 1) vision, 2) values, and 3) the communication of those things.

... do not justify weak leadership because you are a better manager or weak management because you are a better leader. - Chip Hinds Click To Tweet

Character and Faithfulness

Your character is more important than your personality profile, and faithfulness is more important than spontaneous insights. A charismatic personality might appear helpful. And, the one who seems to always be Johnny-on-the-spot for a ready answer may seem to be in the know. But really neither is better than any other personality profile or giftedness once the Holy Spirit takes control of the person in ministry.

Jesus was prophet, priest, king, redeemer, and servant, all being uniquely different roles. He cast vision: “the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He declared and exemplified values such as the beatitudes and all his life on this earth. Jesus is the greatest leader to ever walk the face of the earth! He communicated that vision and those values continuously in his ministry. However, he was also a manager. He chose an administrative team called “disciples” who became both leaders and managers as “Apostles.”

Consider the book of Acts and the epistles. Jesus instructed the disciples to prepare for the last Passover which became the initiation of the Holy Supper. To share his message, He chose to use a boat, a hillside, or a temple.  He fed the hungry and healed the sick. He met the needs of the people both as a leader and as a manager. With such a great example as our Savior and Lord, King of kings and Lord of lords, we must follow that example.

Respect Your Ministry Partners

The challenge in this blog is to know who you are when you do what you do. Likewise, it is to respect those with whom you are ministry partners when they are fulfilling either of these roles. It is simple enough to discern the role(s) wherein we are acting, using the metric provided to us by Rick Warren. I hope you will use it. We can coach each other to better performance for our King by helping one another recognize when we are leading and when we are managing, and by respecting those who are clearly one or the other but not both.


    1. Analyze
    2. Problem-solve, and
    3. Plan the work and work the plan


    1. Cast Vision
    2. Declare Values, and
    3. Communicate the vision and values clearly and continuously

Be Strong and Courageous

Use the gifts provided to you by the Holy Spirit. Walk through the doors opened by the One who opens and shuts doors no man can stop. Be strong and courageous in Jesus Christ. You will bear fruit for the Kingdom of heaven and God is glorified, the Church is edified, and the gospel is served in your ministry.

The present circumstances of this pandemic are a costly opportunity for you to exercise and grow in your ministry. Do not let it escape you while you wait on better times. There is no better time than the present to work in the cause of Jesus Christ.

(For those of you in the General Conference Church of God (Seventh Day) Southwest District, GC COG7 SWD, and all true disciples of Jesus Christ for that matter, they and their work are part of the body of work you do in being the Vibrant 21st Century Church by focusing on Jesus and following his plan.)

Chip Hinds

Chip Hinds is the Southwest District Superintendent of the General Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day).