In John 17:16 Jesus said that those who follow Him are not of the world even as he is not of the world. Although as His followers we are in the world, we are not of this world in terms of the values and standards which stand in contrast or opposition to the kingdom of God.
As followers of Jesus living in the world, we focus on living out and displaying the qualities of the One we are following, Jesus Christ.
On too many occasions we are concerned, disappointed or discouraged when we see leaders in the church who are speaking and acting in ways that do not accurately reflect the Church as the Body of Christ: Christ-centered, loving God and others. Instead we see:
Michael Phelps is the most decorated Olympian of all time with 28 medals. He has experienced a few false starts in his career.
As we discussed last week, false starts happen in life as well as in leadership. False starts may happen in leadership when you arrive with enthusiastic vision for your new role or after you have been in the same place for 20 years.
Last week we talked about the signs of a false start. Today let us look at how to recover from one.
Seeing the excitement and focus on each athlete’s face at the summer Olympics in Rio indicates that they have come there with a plan in mind and a goal to achieve one thing and one thing only—win a medal. They don’t care who the competition is, they are not backing down at a chance to win a medal.
One thing that occurs during the athletic events is a number of false starts. A false start is when a competitor begins before the official signal, or when the attempt to begin something is unsuccessful. An athlete’s false start is usually caused by the excitement and nervousness of getting a shot at winning a medal. Once the false start has occurred all the athletes are given a chance to start over, and many athletes who had false starts went on to win medals because they corrected their mistakes during the second try.
Leaders also will have false starts. Sometimes the false start occurs when they first arrived, or it could happen after they have been there for 10 or 20 years. When it comes to leading, false starts can happen anytime and every leader can have one.
Developing trust takes time, effort and intentionality. You have to be conscious of the fact that you are working on building trust with the people you are leading.
I recall the time when my wife and I were asked to co-pastor in Trinidad in the fall of 1990. We went to a people who knew of us but did not know us well enough to immediately trust us. We had to earn the trust of those we were called to lead in the church.
Leadership cannot be effective and successful without trust at its very core. You may know of talented and gifted persons who seemed poised for great leadership, but whose careers never really got off the ground because they lacked the trust of others. They had a promising and hopeful beginning but they did not get far in their leadership career because they never developed trust with those they were leading.
According to Steven R Covey, “You cannot effectively lead without trust.” Coven says Warren Bennis puts it this way, “Leadership without mutual trust is a contradiction in terms.”
Leadership in this 21st century is less about command and control, and more about healthy relationships and the ability to listen well, asking deeper more meaningful questions with the aim of bringing out the best in those you lead. People are no longer interested in working for leaders whose approach is the old command and control style. “The old models of ‘command and control,’ and management having all the answers, are no longer up to the task.”
In today’s busy world it is common for you as a leader to think that unless you are crazy busy you are somehow not being effective or normal. Unfortunately, too many of us have bought into the myth that busy is normal or being effective.
I recall a time in my life as a leader when I bought into that myth. I was on call 24/7 and felt I was needed; that gave me a sense of self-worth. In the process, I neglected my family, my health, my spiritual and psychological well-being.
The past week has been a difficult one in this nation’s history. As we try to make sense of the chain of events, it’s easy to be confused, especially if we listen to the differing views of so many talking heads.
As a Christian leader, you are faced with a challenge: how do you lead in the midst of such deep social unrest?
I certainly do not have all the answers. However, let me suggest a few things you might do to lead effectively during a time like this.
When was the last time you enjoyed a 24-hour period without doing anything you regard as work?
How regularly do you have a 24-hour period in which you do not do anything you regard as work?
How is your health? How are your most important relationships? Are you thriving, or merely surviving?
One characteristic of a successful leader is an openness to learning, exploring and trying new things, with an awareness that some may work out well while others only serve to teach what not to do again. Regardless of the result, to succeed as a leader you must operate according to an “open system” where you are receptive to new ideas.
Here are some question to ask about your leadership to help discern whether you operate according to an “open system” or “closed system” as a leader.