5 Ways To Lead When You Have No Money or Team

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A few years ago, I surveyed over 1400 pastors of small to mid-sized churches to find out what they struggled with.

Man, I learned a ton from that survey.

One of the common refrains leaders voiced was uncertainty about how to lead when they didn’t have much money or the right team.

After all, most of us visit mega-churches and think if I only had a tenth of their money and their people, it would instantly solve my problems.  And then we go back to our own context and get almost instantly depressed.

So when you have almost no money for ministry and you clearly haven’t got the right kind of people in the room, where do you start?

Believe it or not, neither condition is fatal to your cause. In fact, almost every great movement, church or organization you admire started with no money and no people.

So how can you lead when resources are scarce to non-existent?

There are at least five things you can do to help you find traction.

Almost every great organization or movement you admire began with no money and no people. Click To Tweet

 1. Cast a Big Vision

Of course you know that one of the principal roles of the leader is to cast vision.

But what do you do when you have almost nothing other than vision?

Well, you cast a big vision.

Vision creates something out of nothing. It turns impossibility into reality.

It startles people out of their complacency, stops them from settling for less and moves them to action they wouldn’t otherwise take except for the vision of what could be.

Vision creates something out of nothing. Click To Tweet

Too many leaders forget that vision precedes money and people. Why? Because vision always precedes resources. Sometimes all you have is a vision…and that’s enough to get started.

And remember, resources follow vision. They never precede it.

If you want to attract a team and resources, cast a big, clear and compelling vision.

Resources follow vision, but never precede it. Click To Tweet

2. Raise Your Passion Level

Does passion really matter? You bet it does. More than you think.

Passion is different than hype. Hype attempts to manufacture something that doesn’t quite ring true.

Passion runs deep. It’s authentic. It resonates. And it’s contagious.

No amount of money can ever substitute for a lack of passion.

No amount of money can ever substitute for a lack of passion. Click To Tweet

Your team will never be more passionate about the mission than you are. If you’re disturbed by the lack of passion in your team, look in the mirror.   If you’re not fogging mirrors, they never will.

If you’re disturbed by the lack of passion in your team, look in the mirror. Click To Tweet

3. Start with Who You Have

Sure, you don’t have your dream team. Dream teams don’t randomly assemble. They’re built.

But leaders who wait forever for a dream team to appear eventually have nightmares.

Dream teams don't randomly assemble. They're built. Click To Tweet

So what do you do instead? You start with who you have.

Yes, I know you don’t have the team you want. And yes, everyone else seems to have a better team.

You need to realize, however, that’s where most leaders begin. When I started ministry at three tiny, stagnant churches over 20 years ago, the buildings weren’t exactly teeming with high capacity leaders.

So, start with the best leaders you can find. If you begin by working with the best people you have in the room, eventually higher capacity leaders will fill the room.

Want more on building a high performing team from scratch? Listen to Episode 39 of my leadership podcast with Chris Lema. You can subscribe to my podcast for free here or listen below.

Leaders who wait forever for a dream team to appear eventually have nightmares. Click To Tweet

4. Focus on what you CAN do

It’s so easy to be negative. In fact, it takes zero work. It’s the default of the human condition.

As a result, it’s easy to complain about everything you lack and what seems impossible.

Leaders who focus on what they can’t do, always miss what they can do.

Leaders who focus on what they can't do, always miss what they can do. Click To Tweet

Plus, you end up setting a negative tone for the organization when you always talk about what’s not possible.

What CAN you do? Answer that and go do it.

Keep doing it, and eventually you’ll be accomplishing far more than you ever thought.

5. Believe This Is Only the Beginning

Often as a leader you can grow so discouraged that you think of your current lack of whatever as the end.

Your attitude leaks.

When a leader loses confidence, so does the team.

When a leader is bored, the team grows bored.

And when a leader is passionless, well it doesn’t take long for a group to lose any sense of enthusiasm.

We leaders are dealers in hope. And hope in the mission of the local church is never misplaced. After all, the church was Jesus’ idea, not ours.

So don’t look at your current lack of resources as the end, look at it as the beginning.

We leaders are dealers in hope. And hope in the mission of the local church is never misplaced. Click To Tweet

Lead With Confidence and Clarity. Grow Your Church.

As leaders, we tend to see the challenges and roadblocks before other people do.

We've all been there before...

  • You need to refresh your vision for the future but know that change will be an issue for that person.
  • You're overstaffed (or missing a key role) and can't find the right person to fill the role.
  • You aren't reaching enough new people even though you've tried everything that's working for other churches.
  • You can see the issue but aren't confident in what to do about it.

And with another Sunday morning coming up, it'll just have to wait until next week when you have a few minutes to figure it out.

Now ask yourself this:

What would it feel like to have those answers at your fingertips 24/7?

Whether it's reaching new people, improving your preaching, increasing volunteers, refreshing your vision, engaging your staff, or any of the countless challenges we face as church leaders, The Art of Leadership Academy will equip you to lead your church with confidence and clarity.

Between comprehensive church leadership courses, live coaching calls, staff and volunteer training resources, and direct access to an online community of senior-level church leaders, you'll get the exact insights and answers that fuel your church for growth.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.