If you were to ask me what it takes to become and remain a great Christian leader, I could sum up all I know by experience and education in three short statements.
But first, I’d have to tell you to not worry so much about becoming a great leader. If being a great leader is the chief goal of your life, you will surely not become all that Christ has called you to be. But in answer to the question, these three remain in my mind as the chief trio of prerequisites for anyone to be recognized as a great leader: Lead self well. Practice servant-hood. Work well with others.
1) There must be present an increasing degree of leading yourself well.
This requires the consistent practice of self-discipline in order to lead the various aspects of your self-life: spiritual and physical, mind and body, nutrition and entertainment. Make no mistake about it, Christ followers must continuously solicit the help of our Father in order to have any level of success in leading self-will. It requires self-discipline which when practiced according to Romans 12:1-2, becomes a Holy Spirit controlled (disciplined) life.
2) Others should be able to observe you consistently practicing servanthood.
Servants live under the constant knowledge that their life is not their own; they have a Master. The Master of the servant of The Lord is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself. Most who aspire to greatness rarely achieve it because they refuse to fully yield to the Lordship of Christ. He must reign on the throne of your heart, mind, and free-will in order for you to approach being a servant with the right attitude. That right attitude always resembles submission to the sovereignty of the Master. Servants of The Lord walk in humility and they refuse to believe their own press. I’ve made it a habit of telling myself for years now that I’m not nearly as good as my biggest fans think I am. But I also remind myself regularly that I am not nearly as bad as my worst critics think, or the devil for that matter. As a matter of thought, I’ve come to believe that it matters much less what others think of me as long as I am thinking correctly according to the words of my Master. If as a servant, I know my Master is satisfied with me, then little else matters to me.
3) Interpersonal relationship skills are a must and should continue to increase.
Leaders must be able to work well with others and be seen as the ultimate team player. Everyone should want you on their team, because of the value you bring to the table. But make no mistake about it. Just because you have a seat at the leadership table or perhaps you sit at the head of the table, does not mean you are the smartest one at the table or that you are always right. Hence, this working well with others requires you to increasingly grow in these interpersonal relationship skills. Ministry leadership is not about how much you know or how much you can accomplish. As a servant-leader in the Body of Christ, you must be willing to get over yourself and how gifted you are and learn that you’re only a member of the Body. Working well with the other members of the Body will bring us closer to fulfilling the will of God than any individual effort. Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” The wisdom for the Kingdom is in understanding that we can only accomplish a John 14:12-13, “greater works than these” ministry when we learn to cooperatively work with others. Those are the projects that the Holy Spirit strongly desires to empower.
Yes, these three remain the top behaviors that I have to work on.
None of these behaviors simply happen. Sure, some individuals find some aspects of these three to be easier than others. But as I continue on my journey of servant leadership, I’m continuously reminded that I am 100% responsible for being intentional in my pursuit of these three. I cannot blame anyone else if I am not becoming all that Christ has called me to be as a follower. And while I know that a great number of other characteristics could be listed, I feel sure that most of the items on such a list would fall under one of these three categories.
At the end of my life and after the eulogies have been spoken, I’d rather be remembered as a faithful servant of a great Master than as a great leader.
What about you? What aspects introduced here do you find easier or more difficult than others? And since I have said “these three remain,” which one would you say is the greatest of these? Let’s talk about that and help each other grow.