Leadership: What is it and why does everybody want it?
I work with leaders around the world. Directors of Development, Executive Directors, and even leaders of startup ministries. I am privileged to meet many Visionaries — men and women whom God has given a vision for growth in current ministry, or even a new ministry.
This is such an interesting topic because it is so elusive. There are so many variables and styles concerning leadership.
My son turned 20 yesterday. I find that you can learn a lot about leadership from your kids. That is, IF you are paying attention. He is a gentle and soft-spoken young man. But in his senior year of high school, he grew into a leader at school. When he was leading a chapel and it was time to pray. The kids were loud and chatty. He stopped and said in quiet but strong voice, "This is lame. We are talking to God". The teachers told me the room went quiet issues today. So let's ask the tough question.
What is the best style of leadership?
The strong, vocal leader or the quiet, firm leader? Is there a best? Or can God use all types of leaders?
I heard a speaker one time start his talk by asking — name one place in the Bible where God gives a leader an easy task! What a wake-up call. We all are faced with tough leadership
What is leadership?
Allow me to offer this simple definition. (Knowing there are many ways to define leadership)
Leadership is using all of the talents, skills, and resources that God has entrusted to you, to move people from one place to another.
Whether it is our staff, our ministry, or our kids, we are trying to "lead" them from one place to another. It may be an action we want, an outcome, or even a behavior. But our goal is LO have them follow us.
Leadership is an art more than a science. It ebbs and flows. It is not black and white. If you are not "artistic" in your style, you can sometimes struggle with interpreting your followers. You can be asked to lead when it is outside your comfort zone.
So, is anybody following? This is the question we should ask. It is the really true test. If no one is following and it is only you, you are really a self-centered leader — an army of one!
The follower should be the leaders main concern, not the task. If we truly put the focus where Jesus put His emphasis, it wiII be on the people who have been entrusted to us.
Are we concerned with our followers?
While there are many things written on leadership, how often do we look at our followers and the changes and trends we are seeing today?
A good question to ask is what type of followers will follow what type of leader's?
Who is following in our boards, our staff, among our clients, and even in our home? Getting to know our followers is key to leadership success.
So as we consider who is following, we can stop and ask — why all the questions about leadership now? Why all the books right now? Is there a VOID of leadership right now? Are we hurting in leadership? If Romans 13 is true, did God forget? Did God get behind in His leadership production?
I do not think so. God is not surprised by our need for leadership today. But allow me to offer what I think is needed in Rescue mission leadership today.
- Courage – We need the courage of the Bible. As we are reminded, there are no easy tasks given to leaders in the Word. We know of the stories of Jerry McCauley and others who have walked into cities and claimed them for God. It still happens today. Our expansion leaders are one such example. They walk into a city with no Rescue ministry. They are the ones who say, "There may be nothing here, but God is. So let’s get started!" That's courage!
- Integrity – We must be above reproach. There are so many examples of leaders falling, stealing, and cheating. We cannot have even a "hint" of compromise in our personal and corporate integrity. We do not operate in a Christian nation any longer. There are many who would like to see us fail and be dishonored. We must not give them the chance.
- Godliness – We have must a Godliness about us, not just in title because you work for a ministry. The Spirit of Christ displays fruit. It is what the New Testament church was concerned with. Do we show Christ to our clients, our staff, and our communities? That is our measurement.
- Passion – We must be people of passion. We will find followers behind us only if we are leaders of passion. Passion drives our inner soul, and it gives followers a direction to follow. Our passion for the lost, the hurting, and the addicted are what will be used to bring others to care as well.
- Teachable – This can be one of the most difficult to sustain. We have been learning all of our lives, and then we are the #1 person, and we stop being teachable. We must be able to learn new ways to lead. We must be able 10 accept that things change and we must as well.
- Servant heart – Above all, we must have a servant heart. Our leadership role is not one of power, but of service. This can be difficult when you have a staff person, or board member, or donor, that you would rather not even talk to, much less serve. But serve we must, not only in action, but also in spirit. We must recognize that great passage from Philippians Chapter 2 is for us. Christ, even with His position with God, gave it lip to come and be a man, equal with us, so He could serve us.
It is dangerous to lead today.
Satan attacks from within. The high level of addiction, pornography, and other attacks all Christian leaders is well known. We cannot be naive.
In all of my capital campaigns I create a prayer support committee. The end result of a campaign is not money, bricks, and mortar, it is a tool for increased ministry, and there is an enemy of this.
Most think it is about money. But money is a spiritual issue. So do not be deceived as a leader and think you are raising money. You are leading a ministry that shakes up heaven and hell.
I believe the bottom line of leadership is that we must be disciplers. I had one client that struggled with his leadership team. He wanted them to be self-starting, self-reliant, and not demand much of his time. I encouraged him to look at the leadership style of Jesus. When Christ was recruiting the twelve apostles, He didn't say, “I will see you in three years at the foot of the cross — be ready to change the world!” He discipled them, challenged them, encouraged them, and held them accountable.
What better example as a leader than how Jesus was with his followers. As Bill Hybels shared at his 2004 Willowcreek Leadership Summit, Jesus was the most significant leader in history. There has been no bigger vision, no higher impact team, and no one has changed history like Him.
The challenge, then, is to be a discipler:
When we invest in others, we truly multiply our impact. Now, more than ever, Godly, effective leadership is needed.
Let the world see through our leadership that God loves the poor, the addicted, the homeless. It is our time to lead people to connect with those that fall through the cracks of society and see that our God is a God who restores, heals, and breaks the bondage that 110 other social program can. It is our time to lead with courage, integrity, passion, and with joy.