Learning and Leading

by Pastor Dan

          I’m just curious if in your work or home life you have ever found yourself in a place that you wanted to be in only to realize that, once you’re there, you’re not so sure you want to be there after all.  Maybe you had a child, and you were so excited about it until it came to night feedings or diaper changes.  Maybe you took on a project at work only to realize it was going to consume more time than you thought.  
           Not so long ago, I was speaking to some young leaders, and one of them asked me:  What makes a good leader?  I found myself in the situation that I described above.  I’ve always thought about what it would be like to have young people ask me that question, and now that young people are asking me, I’m not sure I want to answer it.  Part of the hesitation is that I would be answering it knowing the heartache and struggle I have had to go through to even be in the position to answer it.  I am not sure I would want them to struggle in the same way I did.  Yet my mind is going a thousand miles a minute because I also know that I would not have the answer without failure, struggle, and heartache.  
           At first, I turned the question on them.  The answers I received were likely the way I would have answered forty or more years ago.  You get to tell people what to do.  You can do anything you want when you are the boss.  Others would just have to do what they are told whether they like it or not.  
           Maybe this is a young person response, or maybe it is just a world response.  I think they were a bit surprised when I said that most of my leadership learning has come from the Bible.  Then I grabbed my phone stylus and, on my phone, jotted down five things that make a great leader.  I had more in my head, but time and attention spans were real.
           Number one:  Being a leader is a journey of self-discovery.  Moses was just trying to do everything right in leadership until his father-in-law sat him down and gave him a bit of wisdom.  Moses, you are trying to do too much, and you will wear yourself out.  Find capable people to help.  For Moses to take his father-in-law’s advice, he had to do some real soul-searching.  Through experience, we must learn our own hang-ups and shortcomings.  The more we ask God to forgive our mess-ups, the more compassionate we become as leaders.
           This leads us to thought number two:  We must release others to help carry our load.  I am always looking to work myself out of a job.  As a leader, our passion seeks out the very best in others.  I will take some time to explain these in more depth another time.        
           Number three might catch others off guard:  Live a life of serving others.  The word “Apostle” in the Bible means server or waiter.  To some, Apostle is the highest place of honor a person could be gifted in Church ministry, yet the goal is to serve others.  Jesus says the first will be last and the last will be first.
           The fourth one garnered a lot of attention and conversation.  Make decisions based on truth not on the squeaky wheel.  Often a busy leader will find themselves putting out fires all day long when they need to be encouraging others and setting vision for the future.  The Bible tells us that Jesus often withdrew to a quiet place to spend time with God His father.  Jesus also encouraged His followers to do the same.  Quiet time not only helps you think through things, but in ministry, it helps you seek God’s truth about decisions that must be made.  Proverbs 16:9 says, “The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”
           Finally, number five is a life that is a living reflection.  My speech and action should reflect my innermost beliefs and values.  I should be willing to do anything that I am going to ask someone else to do.  The Apostle Paul said to those around him “Follow me as I follow Christ.”  A parental statement and leadership statement that can be the most damaging is “Just do it because I said so.”  
           What a great conversation came out of these five thoughts about leadership with individuals that were not too much older than my grandchildren.  We can never shy away from sharing life experiences, good and bad, with those who want to learn.  Stay tuned because effective leadership and ministry will be a large part of my articles in 2022.  Don’t forget that this journey called life is full of twists and turns, but each one is meant to refine your character, define your passion, and align relationships to maximize your God-given gift.  
-Pastor Dan