One of the greatest needs in the church today is effective leadership and I want to share three key principles that I’ve found formational in my own life.
What qualifies me to write on this subject? Fifty plus years of leadership learning and experience (My nickname in high school was “The General” when I was the captain of our school’s baseball and basketball teams.) Over the years I have gleaned many foundational practices regarding leadership, one being that leadership can be learned.
Contrary to the motto of being a born leader, I like to say that my birth announcement in the October 25th 1951 edition of the Chicago Tribune did not say an “8 pound 3 ounce Baby Leader was born today.” Leaders are not born; good leadership is learned and the best place to learn about leadership is from someone who has learned to be a good leader.
I learned a valuable lesson about leadership when I discovered that the nickname I was givenin high school, “The General,” was not because I was a good leader, but rather, just the opposite. I found out that I was labeled with that moniker as a backhanded slap, critical of me because of my unpopular trait of barking out orders to the other players on my team. I learned that barking out orders is not a particularly effective motivator in leading a church.
Another foundational principal I learned is that good leaders also are continually learning. They are always reading books, listening to audio, enrolling in seminars, workshops, classes, seeking out coaches and consultants who have been there, done that and are studying what’s next.
In the ever-changing social and economic climate we live in, it is imperative to stay on top of ways to positively influence our churches and communities. Leadership is influence that effects positive change. Whether at your dining room table or a church board meeting, everyone is influencing others for the positive or negatively. Affecting change is what leadership is all about and nothing significant changes until someone provides leadership for it.
McDonald’s was a one store operation until Ray Kroc stepped up and shared the concept of multiple franchise locations. Most success and for that matter failure in organizations can be traced back to the level of competent leadership. The writer of Proverbs put it this way, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish. ” Proverbs 28:19
When it comes to Godly leadership two qualities standout for me. The body of leadership is character and the soul of leadership is servanthood. Godly leaders come with all kinds of personalities and temperaments. Some leaders are great planners but not all. Some leaders are great speakers but not all. One thing that all Godly leaders have in common though is good character.
Character is the number one attribute that followers want to have in their leaders. Image and reputation are what others think you are, character is what you really are. It has been said that character is who you are when no one is watching. Character is foundational in leadership because character promotes credibility and credibility is vital in establishing trust and without trust, people will never follow your leadership.
If character is the body of leadership then servanthood is its soul. Nothing else has a more powerful impact on an organization than a person in authority who consistently and clearly models an attitude of servant leadership.
When I taught in the Leadership Studies Department at Fort Hays State University, I often quoted Robert K. Greenleaf, the author of the pamphlet, The Servant as Leader, published in 1970. In his essay he posed the question, “Do those being served grow as a person, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”
Let me put it this way. Are you as a disciple of Jesus serving the people you have been entrusted with in such a way that inspires them to serve others?
The greatest servant leader of all time put it his way,” Whoever wants to be a leader among you, must be your servant .“ Matthew 20:26
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Transform Your Church Leaders … Beginning Today
In the real world, no one gets a trophy for showing up and trying – not even for trying hard!
In the “church world” though, it seems no one is really worried about results. It’s as if all those “eternal” things were cotton candy fluff.
Whatever happened to the church leaders who were ready to change the world?!
Did You Know: You can change your church culture!
The Leadership Accountability Cheat Sheet Workbook will help you lead your leaders and members to:
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