The greatest need in the kingdom is Christ-like leadership. Christians are called to exercise influence (leadership) in the home (marriage and family), career (marketplace or school), community, and calling (church or Para-church ministry). Our leadership is worship to the Lord; and should be done with passion for His glory, and an attitude of gratitude, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [Col. 3:17]. As John Maxwell, and countless others have observed, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”
There are some people who have a seemingly enormous measure of the gift to lead. Some lead thousands, others hundreds, some fifties, and some tens [Ex. 18:21]. Nevertheless, the essence of leadership is influence. Accordingly, regardless of the measure of the gift to lead that you have received, you must exercise that God-given gift with passion and zeal, Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them … he who leads, with diligence… [Rom. 12:6-8]. Leadership is undoubtedly challenging and difficult for countless reasons. Leadership disrupts the status quo. Leadership encounters obstacles and opposition. Leadership requires the introduction of energy (often significant energy) into a system to produce God-inspired change. In light of the need, the call, and the challenges, here are three keys to be a better leader:
- Focus on a particular area and develop core skills:
Choose a specific area that you enjoy where you can excel, and become an acknowledged leader. Sometimes you discover that niche by considering what you are passionate about. Consider the areas that bring you great joy, or motivate you to want to wake-up early or stay-up late. What do you think about, cry about or sing about? Where can you get “A” results without undue burden? By focusing on your strengths and what you do best you tend to maximize results because of leverage. Discover where you can serve people and get the maximum kingdom influence for your efforts. Then develop a team with common passions and complimentary gifts.
For example, imagine a mature Christian woman who eagerly desires to help young women who are navigating parenthood challenges raising small children. She has the experience as a mom of four adult kids, the maturity, and she is a former schoolteacher. She knows that she can help these young moms in this challenging season of life. She decides to either create or identify an appropriate curriculum; and she plans to meet with the young moms at a local park once a week for about eight weeks. She knows that childcare for the little ones at the park will be needed, and she wants to be able serve refreshments. But childcare isn’t her thing right now, and hospitality isn’t her greatest strength. She is going to need some teammates with a common passion and complimentary gifts.
- Focus on eliminating what is in conflict:
Delegate everything except the areas in which God-given talents enable extraordinary performance [calling]. Don’t spend your life doing something that someone else can do, when you can invest your life to do what only you can do! Determine your priorities and zealously protect them. Stay focused on the priorities.
In our example of the mature woman starting a group for young moms, the temptation will be to take a turn or two at childcare to seek to set an example, and to provide refreshments for the group because she is after all the leader. Her passion is to teach, mentor, and coach the moms. That is where she should seek to focus. Childcare and refreshments are a distraction to what she does best, what she believes is most important for her, and where she will have the greatest impact. It might be better to arrange for someone else to provide childcare, and everyone contributes a little to pay for the services. Also, it might be better to have someone else take the lead on hospitality or refreshments (preferably someone with a Pinterest account). By eliminating what is in conflict this leader is free to focus on her strengths, and she has developed other leaders in the process by delegating.
- Focus on developing as a leader and developing others:
Be self-motivated to grow as a leader and help others to grow in their calling. You are responsible for your development. Avoid the pitfall of waiting for someone to develop you to be the leader that you desire to be and avail yourself of the abundant sound resources for leadership development. Growing as a leader requires establishing new goals and developing the disciplines, structures, and relationships necessary to achieve them. Expert knowledge creates opportunities for leverage. Learn from the best. The decisions you choose for today are based on kingdom potential of the person you are becoming, not the person you used to be [Phil. 1:6, 3:13-14]. Invest time and energy to develop other motivated leaders to grow [2Tim. 2:2]. Don’t try to convince others to your passion but help them discover theirs and, encourage them to accomplish their calling.
In our earlier example, the mature leader should take the initiative to gather information from books, articles, or possibly a conference. She should seek the advice of successful practitioners, and possibly glean wisdom from a recognized effective leader in this niche. The information gleaned will create leverage if the plan is implemented. She must establish new goals and develop the disciplines, structures, and relationships necessary to achieve them. As the group for young moms is initiated and develops there will undoubtedly be some motivated prospective leaders that emerge. Imparting time and energy will help them to grow as leaders. Perhaps leaders of other young moms’ groups or, women encouraged and prepared for a different kingdom calling in their lives.
What keys have you discovered to being a better leader?