I have never considered myself a spokesman for leadership, although God, in his sovereign plan, placed me in leadership positions most of my life. I have 29 books on leadership in my personal library. I have tried to read about and listen to those who could help me be a better leader. At this point in my journey I have discovered there is no one-size-fits-all or silver bullet to being an effective leader. Varying situations call for different approaches. Here are some practices that have benefited me as I have tried to lead others.
Seek to Walk With God
The first matter that has to be settled is our relationship with God. After receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, believers begin the journey to fulfill God’s will for their lives. This means a continual awareness that whatever God has designed for us he will equip us to do (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
Our walk with God determines a major part of our ability to complete the assignment he gives us. We are to be at the right place at the right time. Being in position enables us to start the process of leadership.
Staying in the will of God provides the opportunity to see him work in the long run. Sin which violates the will of God can and does inhibit our ability to lead. Sin can cause a person to forfeit the place of leadership (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Being right with God does not guarantee commonly perceived success. It does put us in position.
This is a very dangerous subject to address. Talking about humility is almost counterintuitive, like the person who wrote the book, “Ten Ways I Know I’m Humble.” Humility is a quality such that when you think you have it, you don’t. Yet humility before God and toward people is necessary for leadership.
God puts a premium on humility (James 4:6, 10). We must stay cognizant that only God can enable us to lead. We are dependent upon his guidance. We don’t have all the answers, but he does.
Jesus said not to go to a party and seek to sit in the most important place. Let someone else give you recognition. The same goes for those with whom we interact. Every person is important. Persons who have little to contribute to our benefit deserve to be treated with respect and dignity too.
Show How to Do It
Leadership by example is a vital part of getting people on board. If you are not willing to do the hard work, don’t expect others to stay with you very long. Leaders don’t sit in ivory towers pontificating. Leaders are always willing to do whatever is necessary to get the job done.
If you are a foreman, you may not dig the ditch but you need to be where the work is. Different roles call for separate assignments. Yet, identification with those who are in the trenches validates your role as a leader.
Communication is the nerve center of an organization. Jesus is the head of the church. He communicates with us through his Word and Spirit. As a leader, we must be clear with our expectations. More information is usually better, not less. How we deliver information and what is delivered determines receptivity and perhaps success.
Tell people the truth. Tell people what is needed. Tell people how they can be a part of moving forward. Leaders communicate with passion about the cause they represent.
Send Others Out
Leaders should produce leaders. Just as Jesus charges us to make disciples, we train others to take our place. A church’s future existence depends on people becoming followers of Jesus. Leading others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is being the ultimate leader. We must duplicate ourselves in ministry as well. Invest in people. Seek to help them be everything God has called and enabled them to be. In doing so, you will perpetuate a part of your leadership through the next generation.
As the world changes there are some unchangeable practices of leadership. Use them to the glory of God!