EP 125 - Dr. Jim Bradford - Lead So Others Can Follow


Jim Bradford – Lead So Others Can Follow

What’s in this Episode?

We are sitting down with Dr. Jim Bradford, to discuss his book, Lead So Others Can Follow.

Read the Transcript

Dick Hardy 0:06
Hey friends, great to be with you on this Church Tips Podcast. And today I’m with my great friend Jim Bradford. And Jim, you and I have known each other for I’m thinking like, do we go way back? You probably didn’t know me in the 90s, but I knew of you and we had met and crossed paths. But, we really have become very good friends in recent years. We pastor in the same town and have gone out to Gailey’s for breakfast periodically.

Jim Bradford 0:35
Yeah, or else when I’m out to breakfast with someone else I see you at Gailey’s.

Dick Hardy 0:41
That’s right.

Jim Bradford 0:42
You keep them in business.

Dick Hardy 0:43
Somebody asked me if I had stock in Gailey’s. I need to figure out how to get some stock in Gailey’s. So if you’re a viewer, or a listener today, and you come to Springfield, you get a hold of Dick Hardy and I will take you to Gailey’s. And if I don’t take you to Gailey’s, I’ll pitch you over to Jim Bradford and he will take you to Gailey’s.

Jim Bradford 0:59
There’s a deal.

Dick Hardy 1:01
But anyway, hey, I really appreciate you taking time to talk about your book, Lead So Others Can Follow. This is a great book that is really designed, as it would sound, for leaders. And obviously we’re in the church world, Jim and I, and you as viewers want pastors to win as leaders, and to be able to lead successfully. So I mean, the title is so catching, the design just grabs your eye. Give us a jumpstart on this, Jim, what was the genesis of how did this book come together for you?

Jim Bradford 1:41
Well thanks, Dick, privileged to be with you. And I am to, grateful for your friendship. The title is nuanced, actually. Obviously, we lead so that it’s possible for others to follow, but sometimes we lead in ways that make it difficult for people to follow. So, part of the idea of the book is to help us with our leadership. That it becomes accessible to the people in our lives that were leading, so that it’s easy for them to follow. As opposed to leading in ways that make it difficult, or even become abusive for the people that follow us.

Jim Bradford 2:18
The genesis of the book actually came from part of a day I was spending with the Lord, at home, just a few years ago. And this is gonna sound a little mystical. And I don’t say this book’s inspired by any means. It had been sort of scratching me that I was to write something and partway through these few hours, just with the Lord, it was a pretty open agenda, I was just trying to read scripture, listen to the Lord.

Jim Bradford 2:44
And all of a sudden, I saw this outline in my head, and I scrambled, I wrote something down. And it’s pretty much the chapter titles to each message. I was General Secretary for the Assemblies of God at the time, and when I was doing leadership seminars and things, part of it is content that I was writing and I was teaching already. But it just kind of fell down together in those four sections. And, and I just felt like I was supposed to write it, even if it was just a word document on my hard drive, and it never went beyond that.

Jim Bradford 3:21
I just had, you know, those moments where you feel like the Lord asks you to do something and it becomes a point of obedience. For me writing is glorious agony. It’s wonderfully engaging, and it’s terribly hard. But I knew I needed to do this, so I started on it. Sometimes when I’m talking to people about leadership, you know, it’s the first steps, just getting started, with a lot of things. And the hardest sentence to write in the book was my first sentence. And labored over that a long time, but I knew if I could get past the first sentence, then we’d start picking up some momentum and we could go.

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Jim Bradford 4:00
I aimed it at pastors and also lay leaders in a local church, Actually, not just volunteers, but lay leaders. And I tried to make each chapter, 12 chapters, less than 3000 words, so that maybe once a month, a pastor could use it. Or a lay leader, with their team they’re leading, could use it as kind of a leadership enrichment. And being a shorter chapter and I think like an engineer, that was my training, so I have bullet points. And I tried to make them fairly easy read chapters, so that if you’re doing a monthly enrichment with your team, I mean, maybe they’d actually read the chapter before they came to the meeting.

Jim Bradford 4:38
And the other thing about it, I had one person, one editor, read it and say, This sounded like a devotional to me, and it’s got a lot more than devotional material in it. But, one of my core passions is we re-integrate our spirituality with our leadership. And my friend, Chuck Miller, who passed away now, worked with Fuller and developed a lot of discipleship material. He said, In some ways, we’re making the church in America into a two room schoolhouse. In one room is the soul room. And the other room is a leadership room. Each room has its own literature, its own vocabulary, its own conferences.

Jim Bradford 5:17
And it’s like we’re being forced to choose between leadership and spirituality. My passion is to hardwire our spirituality back into our leadership, or hardwire our leadership into our spirituality, however you want. So, I think that’s something that comes through the totality of the book. And that really is my core passion.

Dick Hardy 5:41
Yeah. Oh, that’s so good. You know, one, by the way, the book is an easy read. He was talking about, you know, easy to follow and track. What do you got here, how many pages? 140 pages. You know, this is not going to be your PhD dissertation. This is designed for us as busy pastors, busy leaders, to be able to consume.

Dick Hardy 6:11
The four section titles, I mean. Jim is an aerospace engineer, that was his formal training. These chapter titles, the way it’s all laid out, four sections, three chapters per section. No, there’s not four chapters in a section or two chapters, there’s three of each one.

Jim Bradford 6:30
You gotta have symmetry.

Dick Hardy 6:31
So it’s very symmetrical, all the way down. Spirituality and Servanthood, Systems and Strategies, Skills and Strengths, Stamina and Stability. Talk us talk to us a little bit about those sections.

Jim Bradford 6:42
The first one is core, if we’re going to keep our spirituality integrated with our leadership. And so the whole idea of the parameters around your life to keep you close to Jesus. How you understand that in terms of leadership. Chapter One is seven things that I try to pay close attention to in my life. Paul said to Timothy, Pay close attention to your life and to your doctrine. And in doing so, you’ll save yourself and those who hear you. First Timothy 4:16.

Jim Bradford 7:17
And so chapter one comes out of years ago, saying, What do I need to pay close attention to in my own life? What are the vulnerabilities? I put a diagnostic question with each one of those seven things. And, so that’s where it starts.

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Jim Bradford 7:33
Chapter two and chapter three go into core spirituality, as well as how we view ourselves as servants. In Chapter Three on servanthood, I deal with the three kinds of power: positional, possessional, and personal. How Jesus keeps moving us down to personal power, we keep defaulting up to positional power. And sometimes that’s where our leadership style can become abusive, or can it make it hard for people to follow, or we can end up loving our positions more than our people.

Jim Bradford 8:04
So, it’s a whole area of humility, servanthood, why we do what we do, as well as just some of the core components of how we stay connected to Jesus in the midst of our leadership. So that’s the first section.

Jim Bradford 8:17
Second has to do with kind of strategy for ministry, kind of core ministry philosophy. So I think as leaders, whether you’re managing the General Motors Corporation, or you’re leading a small group, or anything in between, you are what I call smart SMOR. You’re influencing the spirit, the mission, the organization, and the relationships. And, that’s the totality of leadership. And it comes out of exactly what happens in places like Luke 6, and other places where we see this pattern in Jesus’s life.

Jim Bradford 8:55
And so I break that down and then talk about how spirit, mission, organization, relationship, they take on different emphases depending on where you are in the life cycle of your ministry. And then that’s the first chapter of that section. The second has to do with my philosophy of ministry. You start with modeling servanthood, setting attitude, casting vision, developing people, sharing authority, requiring excellence, and showing appreciation. So I walk through all that, it’s kind of my personal philosophy ministry.

Jim Bradford 9:30
And then the last chapter of that section are 16 things I look for when I hire a staff person. So, that all has to do with systems and strategy. The third section I wanted to address what I thought were the three core skills of most ministry leaders, the most important skills. The first one is team building, so we do quite a bit about team building in that chapter. I include the 10 core values that I use to lead the team I lead here, and some of the skills of a team leader.

Jim Bradford 10:10
And then, we look at communication. I don’t know any leader that hasn’t learned to communicate well, if they’re effective as a leader, whether it’s one on one communication, or public speaking. And I deal with more of the public speaking part. The preaching thing I kind of do a condensed, how to preach thing, in that chapter.

Jim Bradford 10:29
And then the third chapter is change management, how do you lead people through change, which I consider an important one. Whether you’re doing major change or not, change management is emotional management. It’s not isolating people, it’s not writing people off through change, but listening a lot, validating people’s anxieties, and bringing as many people with you as you can.

Jim Bradford 10:51
So, I think there’s just some good people management things in that chapter, but I build it around the whole idea of change management.

Dick Hardy 10:57

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Jim Bradford 10:58
So, that’s the three core skills. The last section, stability and stamina, is even since I’ve written it, I’ve come to be more convinced how critically important that section is. I deal with physical stamina, I do some things on physical health, and then emotional stamina.

Jim Bradford 11:18
You know, I think one of the make or breaks things for us as leaders, is our emotional capacity. I think you need emotional capacity and you need courage to lead well. And your emotional capacity, to be able to handle the criticism, to be able to even handle your own creativity that can sometimes get out of control, where you’ve just got a new vision every day and it’s driving the people you lead crazy. I mean, just your emotional capacity, that emotional tank you have, you’ve got to attend to it.

Jim Bradford 11:46
Sometimes we we worry about the physical and the spiritual, not the emotional. I’ve come to see that as a make or break issue in many lives. So I deal with emotional stamina, patterns of thinking that drain us emotionally, how you can keep yourself strong emotionally. And then the last chapter is spiritual stamina and I talk about spiritual warfare and intercession. I just kind of wanted to land there. It kind of loops the whole book back to our spirituality and our leadership being integrated.

Dick Hardy 12:13
Yeah. Wow, that is so good. Lead So Others Can Follow by Dr. Jim Bradford. This has been very, very helpful, Jim. I’m just telling you, friend, you’ve got to pick this book up.

Dick Hardy 12:27
Give us a parting shot. Jim. You know, we’ve talked about this thing, we’ve done the flyover. If a viewer or listener heard nothing else, what do they need to hear from you on this subject today?

Jim Bradford 12:39
I might have alluded to this really briefly a minute ago, but I’m just becoming increasingly aware that no matter what leadership position we fill, we’ve always got to love people more than our position. I think you have an immense influence if people get the feeling that you really love them, you believe in them, and you’re not in your leadership position for self-serving reasons. You’re there for them. And your influence, anointed by the Spirit of God, can be amazing, because that’s the heart of Jesus through you. That’s where leadership and spirituality meet. When you really love people more than you love your position and you’re trusting God to live in love through you.

Dick Hardy 13:18
Oh, that’s so good. Leads So Others Can Follow. Great book. I highly recommend you go to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, wherever books are sold, pick up your copy. And then frankly, I’d pick up a few for your Board, your Leadership Team, and begin to walk through it together. Again, easy read, easy to consume.

Dick Hardy 13:39
And I’m so grateful, Jim, that you took the time to hang out with us on this. And it’s a great privilege to know you as a friend and to see this kind of value brought to pastors and the Church. Pick up the book, that’s your instruction from Dick Hardy. So thanks, Jim, for being with us today.

Unknown Speaker 13:56
Thank you. I’m humbled and grateful to be with you.

Dick Hardy 13:59
And for the viewers and listeners, thank you so much for being with us. And you can connect with us at Leaders.Church, and anything we can do to be helpful to you, that’s exactly what we want to do. So in the meantime, watch for the next episode of the Church Tips Podcast. But make it a great one today, and be blessed.

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