Pastors and church administrators, do you ever wonder if you’re being an effective leader when it comes to your church’s finances?

You might think, “I’ve trained to be an effective leader of the church body, but when it comes to finances, sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed; what can I do?”

Well, here’s a question: What’s the difference between effective and ineffective, church leadership? The traits and characteristics of the leader, of course!

At SBS Accounting and Advisors, we understand that being a truly effective leader at your church can include things that you didn’t necessarily expect. When it comes to church finances, we want to help.

As we discuss these 14 traits of effective church leadership, we must first understand that leadership at a church isn’t just about being a good preacher, but also being a good administrator. It’s very easy to feel overwhelmed when looking for solutions to key issues, especially when you weren’t trained on, or planning to solve, complex financial problems.

Trait 1: Transparency

Transparency is key to being an effective leader because it shows those around you that you desire to be honest with them. While transparency opens your life up to others, and shows your weaknesses and flaws, it also displays your strengths, and builds trust and confidence with others.

When it comes to finances, transparency is so important. Transparent finances are honest finances. This means allowing your church to ask questions and to be heard about their concerns. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to change what you’re doing, but by opening up your books and processes for review, you are heading off a misunderstanding before it even occurs.

Trait 2: Honesty

Transparency is more than just honesty, but honesty is also more than just transparency. Honesty is telling the truth when a question is asked. When you choose to be a transparent person, questions will arise, and an honest person will tell the truth when they are asked the hard questions.

When it comes to finances, honesty is a philosophy. It is a way in which you conduct yourself and run your finances. It isn’t just answering hard questions, but also acting in an honest way before the questions can even be asked.

Trait 3: Innovative Thinking

Innovation has been a hallmark of successful people for generations. Innovation grows societies and builds companies. When it comes to church, we tend to avoid innovation for fear of breaking tradition, but innovation doesn’t necessarily mean tearing down the old landmarks and breaking away from the old paths. Just as the car was an innovation long ago when the horse and buggy were the norm, technology has innovated the way in which we communicate.

When it comes to finances, the same thought process can apply. There are truths to handling your money in a proper way, and old ways of doing so that shouldn’t necessarily be changed. But, the tools of finance have changed, and you should, too. Modern finance is quicker and relieves stress by offering transparency in ways previously unavailable without digging through paper pages of a ledger, or figuring out handwritten double-entry accounting. Innovative thinking can save you time, energy and money.

Trait 4: Understanding and Compassion

Understanding and compassion are two of the most notable traits of a Christian, and yet it seems that we often forget to apply it to our daily lives. We can have understanding and compassion for the big things, but when it comes to the small moments on the day-to-day journey, we often let our flesh win out, and tend to deal with people and circumstances selfishly.

The same is true of our finances. It’s okay to embrace being compassionate for others, but we must also be willing to do what’s right in the moment and let God take care of us afterwards. Be willing to share God’s money with his people and those he loves.

Trait 5: A “Get it Done” Attitude

A driven person can be described as a person with a “get it done” attitude – someone who is willing to put in the time and effort to achieve the desired goal. This attitude has helped many be successful in business and in life. It is the drive that moves forward to success.

When it comes to finance, a “get it done” attitude is one that is willing to “put the money where its mouth is.” As a church, this might mean being willing to pay for the next step in growth, or giving money to support a cause locally or foreign. Whatever it may be, driven finances are willing to do what needs to be done.

Trait 6: An Ability to Put Yourself in Another’s Shoes

Sometimes, the hardest part about having compassion for someone is not being able to understand what it’s like to be them. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is an important quality to being an effective church leader. This is the ability to look at someone and understand where they are, how they got there, and why they have made their decisions.

In finance, realizing what the situation is for someone else will allow you the opportunity to have compassion for others and help them out, without the guilt of giving away money to what may seem like a lost cause. Being willing to see why someone is the way they are will help you love them in spite of their flaws.

Trait 7: Confidence

Confidence is the key to success. A lack of confidence will lead to an unwillingness to act. Confidence gives us courage to walk into an unknown situation and handle ourselves in an appropriate manner. It is a principle that is hard-learned, but well worth the effort.

In finance, confidence is what allows a person to put money in a stock or spend money on a big-ticket item. In church, confidence in the Lord is what allows us to step out in faith and act. It’s what gives us the courage to start that next program or build the new building. It’s what drives us to give money to the needy despite the electric bill this month or to kneel in prayer. Confidence comes from faith that has been proven by God.

Once you’ve understood and applied all of these traits of effective church leadership, there still might come a circumstance where you need help and really just want to speak to an expert.

At SBS Accounting and Advisors, we would love to speak with you and discuss how we can help you and your church serve God and use his finances legally. We want to be there for you and aid you, as you walk through the legality of the financial system, with the goal of serving God and spreading the work of his ministry.

If this interests you, please reach out to us. And, stay tuned for part 2 of this series.