Leaders are those who have the ability to mobilize others to work together towards a common goal. Some people have natural leadership qualities but leadership skills can be developed through training and development. I disagree with the idea that leaders are born, they are rather built through experience and intentional improvement. In becoming a leader, I have discovered that my past experiences were preparing me to become who I am today. What I found interesting about leadership is that after I understood it, I felt responsible to grow and also to train others to grow. I will discuss 3 aspects of leadership in my paper; leadership as a responsibility, leadership as servanthood, and leadership as training.Order now
Leadership as Responsibility
A few weeks ago, after a long day at work, I came home to a quiet house which was unusual for the type of family I have. I realized that my wife was working out at the gym, my youngest son was at my grandparents house and my daughter was in her bedroom sleeping. As I stepped inside my daughters room, I immediately became frustrated because of the condition the room was in. Their were cloths all over the floor, shoes scattered throughout the room, old cups of juice on her counter and to make things worse she was sleeping comfortably in her bed at 6:30 in the evening. After scanning over this horror seen called a room, I angrily woke my daughter up and demanded that she get out of her bed and immediately clean her room! Now we are both mad, Im mad because of her room, she is mad because I woke her up out of some good sleep, and here we are both upset in the middle of what looked like a war zone. As she yawns and sits up on her bed, my daughter lightly asks me the question; is your room clean? I initially wanted to explode on the inside. My heart rate excelled, my breathing increased and just at the hight of my anger, conviction hit me like a ton of bricks. My anger turned into shame as I realized that I demanded my daughter to do what I was not doing myself, and what made it worse was that she recognized it before I did.
My daughter helped me realize the responsibilities of leadership. My job as a leader is to set an example for those who follow me. It does not mean less work, but it means working with purpose. My job is not to send people to do a task, it is to lead people to the task. In the early 2000’s we saw corrupt and greedy executives who cheated their workers out of wages as big businesses collapses because of mismanagement. These leaders only cared for themselves as their businesses went down and their salaries went up. Leaders that glorify God set examples that encourage others to follow in their steps. It is hypocritical to demand what I am not willing to do myself. When Solomon was asked by God what he wanted, he requested wisdom to lead Gods people. Solomon’s focus was not on himself but on the large kingdom he inherited from his father David. It was not until later in his years when his focus was on his personal gratification that he made selfish decisions that weakened his relationship with God and the nation as a whole.
I can guarantee that if the church adopts the worlds idea of leadership we will fail every time. Without studying Biblical leadership one could simply do exactly the opposite of what the world does and experience high levels of success. The world says leaders should be served, God says leaders should serve others, the world says the more others give to me the more I will be blessed, God says its more blessed to give than to receive. Kenneth Gangel said, “Biblical leadership takes place when divinely appointed men and women respond in obedience to God’s call.
My daughter serves as a reminder that people will do what you do and not what you say. Therefore we have a responsibility to live with an awareness that others are watching us. Our actions give our words power and will influence people to either listen or ignore our requests. After everything was said and done, my daughter cleaned her room, but it was not because of my good example, it was because of my demands that it get done. that caused her to respond. I had to lean upon my position as a father above my influence as a leader.
Leadership as Servanthood
I mentioned briefly about leading opposite of the world will guarantee the results that God requires. Servant leadership is the greatest example of leading Gods way verses leading the worlds way. Servant leadership is about being loyal to the people. Tony Dungy refers to it as “mentor leadership,” he say’s “loyalty developed depth in relationship, which then forges the bonds to hold relationship firm and fast when storms and challenges come.” Servant leaders are not only concerned with meeting goals but they are concerned about the people that help them reach them. Success is not about a destination, its about seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ and as leaders. Most organization models will have the executives at the top, then upper management, followed by lower management and lastly the workers. Gods leader has a very different model. It is actually a reversed image with the leader at the bottom followed by management and workers at the top. The idea is to reproduce people who would themselves become servant leaders.
The Star Wars movie gives us the perfect example of servant leadership. Every Jedi master always had an apprentice. What was unique about this relationship was the Jedi masters dedication to make the apprentice reach his or her full potential. They ate together, traveled together, fought together and learned together as they explored the possibilities of the force. Similar to Jesus with His disciples, the Jedi master did life with his apprentice. The master did not only teach lessons about the power they possessed, he modeled life before his apprentice to ensure he would maximize his potential. In this way his leadership was servanthood that ensured the continuation of the Jedi order.
Leadership is Training
There are many forms of training that can help leaders grow in their respected roles. Placing individuals in positions is only the first step, they should have continual training to help them learn and improve as leaders. George Barna states, “The underlying desire, regardless of the approach, is to motivate church leaders to stay fresh and current in thinking about leadership.” There is the illusion that what worked in the past will work now, and what works now will work in the future. The church has equated method with the gospel. The gospel will never change, it is Gods eternal truth that cannot be altered or watered down to appease generations to come, but methods are not the gospel. They can be changed, rearranged and changed again to make sure we get maximum results in leadership.
Before pastoring, my home church was great at teaching us how to serve and love God. I learned the importance of faithfulness and sacrifice. It caused tremendous growth in my life and helped develop me in ministry. What the church failed at was to adequately train us as leaders. We were frequently placed in positions without training or communication about the vision of the ministry. Most of the time these positions became open because someone abruptly left them and the church needed to fill a vacancy. Mike Myatt wrote an interesting article on his thoughts about leadership training entitled, The #1 reason Leadership Development Fails. He states in the article, “The solution to the leadership training problem is to scrap it in favor of development. Don’t train leaders, coach them, mentor them, disciple them, and develop them, but please don’t attempt to train them.”
The terminology of training may be a matter of apples and oranges but his idea of development involves growing, not teaching leaders. This is the model that I believe Jesus gave for our example in the gospels.
I have learned the basics of being a leader over the years and have come to the conclusion that I have not scratched the surface on successful leadership. I do understand that I am journeying as a leader and not looking for a destination. We must be visionaries, but our vision must be focused on Gods heart. In this way his kingdom will continue to grow and flourish in the earth as men and women accept the challenge to set examples and grow others as leaders. All great leaders have a certain focus. As I studied the characteristics of these leaders I learned that they cared more about the people they led over the goals they wanted to accomplish. Jesus gave Himself that the Father would be glorified and humanity saved. He led sacrificially, for his service seemed to benefit everyone He touched. The lame were made whole, the blind received sight and the sick were healed because He cared about who we are and not what we could do. “To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt