Every day, I’m more aware of the influence people have on other people. Leaders are people who have influence and use it for a purpose. Leaders are always leading . . . in one direction or the other. In truth, leadership is really more about the ‘who’ than the ‘what.’ We in the church have sometimes gotten it backward, tapping the most talented or skilled or ambitious over the most committed or humble or loving. We’ve created roles where leaders can teach, administer, make decisions and serve but never truly connect with the people they lead . . . never really expose their hearts, their struggles or their ‘dark corners.’ We play zone, doing our church jobs and ‘serving the Lord’ but never going man to man with people who need to be loved and led into a growing relationship with Jesus. As I think about the qualities of leaders I’ve followed and learned from, I see five key attributes:
Curiosity – Leaders have an insatiable hunger to learn and be more . . . to have more to share, more to give. Disciples are learners and followers of Jesus . . . not just learning about Jesus but living out what they’ve learned every day.
Humility – Jim Collins says “Level 5 Leaders” exhibit consistent, genuine humility. The greatest leader of all time, Jesus Christ used only 2 words to describe Himself: “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29).
Intentionality – The leaders I’ve followed knew where they were going and they consistently focused themselves in that direction. They were constantly aligning their calendars, their relationships and their energies in an intentional way.
Purposeful – Strong leaders know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They’ve asked and settled the question “Is it worth it?” They’ll consistently return to their purpose when they’re distracted or when they drift. For example, as mentors, everything we read, we read through the lens of “Who can this help?” “How can this help my guys?”
Secure – Leaders I admire are secure in their identities. They’re not about themselves, not about their egos nor about proving anything to anyone. They’re comfortable in their own skin. They’re all-in for the cause, but they rest in the unconditional love and acceptance of their Lord. I loved the interview with David Boudia and Steele Johnson after they medaled in synchronized diving at the Rio Olympics. Both men said they were able to relax and do their best because their “identity is rooted in Christ and not what the result of this competition is.”
The amount of influence a leader has often correlates with the consistency between his ‘walk’ and his ‘talk.’ The leader who says one thing and does another has only authority to lean on. His influence will be minimal, if not negative, on those he’s responsible for. The best leader knows who he is, where he’s going and why. He uses his God-given intellect to learn and grow. And in humility, he never forgets the two fundamental facts of human enlightenment:
- There is a God.
- I am not Him.
Prayer – Jesus, please remind me that I am a leader and that you want me to be a leader worth following. Help me be the kind of man who will be given influence that can be used for the sake of your Kingdom. Give me the wisdom to make solid decisions and the courage to follow through. Above all, let my life and all that I become bring Glory to your name. Amen.
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