You lead because you want people to follow; but not all leaders know how to get others to follow. Many think others will follow because of their knowledge. Others think their positional authority as a leader should be reason enough for others to follow. Good leaders need neither of those things for others to follow them.
Someone once said, “Leadership is influence.” People are more likely to follow because they are influenced by the leader than by the giftedness of the leader or the positional power which comes with leadership.
How does one become a leader that leads through influence?
In the story of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22) Jesus tells the young man to go and sell everything, give his money to the poor, and follow Him.
The man left very sad because his riches meant more to him than following Jesus.
Jesus also said that to follow Him we must be willing to hate/give up the most important relationships in our lives (Luke 14:26).
By Jesus’ own clear instructions, we are told we should not allow anything [riches] or anyone [parents, spouse, siblings, etc.] to stand between us and our relationship with Him.
Jesus wants our undivided, uncompromising loyalty and attention.
Sometimes weakness will manifest in leaders doing things they should not be doing, or things they are simply unsuited to do. At other times, weakness may result in leaders avoiding things they really ought to do.
Weaknesses can get in the way of leadership. However, we often do not talk about another side to weaknesses in leaders. That is, a leader who focuses on her weaknesses to the extent that she does not lead from her strengths?
Moses and Gideon are two good biblical examples of such leaders. When God called Moses to lead the children of Israel out from under the bondage of slavery in Egypt, Moses pointed to his weakness (Ex. 4:10) as the reason he could not (or should not) be the one to lead the children of Israel.
From the beginning of Chapter 3 up to Chapter 4:9, God has been demonstrating to Moses His great power to do miracles. But when called upon to lead, Moses’s response was to point to his weakness saying, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
With the constant movement of people, whether because of shifting employment or looking for a better life, along with the influence of technology in our lives, changes occur rapidly.
One group which is challenged with figuring out how to deal with all these changes is ministry leaders. Since what they have to offer is free – the message of the cross – and counter-cultural, they must figure out daily how to adjust to changes and remain relevant while also staying true to the message of the Gospel.
As a leader, are you aware that your style of leadership and the direction in which you lead your people is a reflection of your focus, or where you are centered?
Usually a leader is centered on one of three areas:
Where you are centered determines your leadership style, influence, accomplishments and legacy.
Leadership is generally understood as leading others to get things done. “Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” (Dwight D Eisenhower)
The challenge many leaders face is the tendency to focus on what they want those under their leadership to get done at the expense of one of the most important aspects of their responsibilities: the human side of leading. What I mean by the human side of leadership is the relationship aspect of leading.
Relationship-driven leaders empower and inspire their followers to do great things.
I recently surveyed a number of leaders, asking what they would say are some of the biggest challenges they are facing in ministry today. One of the top three answers was the challenge of recruiting and keeping volunteers. It seems like people are either too busy or not interested in volunteering in church ministries.
While it may appear that people are busy, I believe that people are interested in giving of their time and energy, but as leaders, you have to figure out how you can best inspire your followers to want to volunteer their time and energy.
Where do you go to be completely honest with what you are feeling, thinking and going through without being judged? Who hears your heart with all its fears, joys and concerns? Who do you have who can be straight up in your face honest with you, to tell you the hard truth even when you do not want to hear it? Many of us, especially leaders, do not have such honesty and accountability in our lives. And for many, the consequences have been tragic.
Last week we looked at leading with power, not power to rule and abuse but the power of the Holy Spirit in order to lead in a godly way. Today let us focus on leading with wisdom.
Wisdom is not knowledge. Knowledge is having information; wisdom is knowing how to use information to make judicious decisions in a manner that is honoring to God and best for those the decision will affect. Following this course of action is not always easy.
James, the brother of Jesus, was careful to help us in understanding the difference between godly wisdom and the wisdom of the world. First, he described what earthly wisdom looks like.
Today we celebrate Pentecost Sunday. We are reminded of the promise made and kept by Jesus to his followers when he was on Earth with them. On more that one occasion he promised that when he left this Earth he would send the Holy Spirit to represent him and be with his followers (see Acts 1:4-5).
The presence of the Holy Spirit with us is more than a reminder of Jesus. The Spirit’s presence also means we will be empowered to do the work of God (see Luke 24:48-49).