Someone characterized great leadership as follows:
“A great leader…their character is deeper, their ideas fresher, their spirit softer, their courage greater, their leadership decisions better, their concerns wider, their compassion more genuine. They give away power…they ask great questions. They understand the key role of a leader is to create other leaders.”
Three years ago I was asked by a colleague as to why I felt it necessary at that stage in my ministry to apply to attend a leadership course with the ARROW Executive Stream program. He thought I was already well established in leadership. My answer to that question was simple: “For the sake of others around me”.
If I was to lead well and in a manner honoring to the Lord, I needed to increase my capacity to lead for the sake of those around me and frankly for the sake of the Kingdom.
I am very conscious that leadership in one word is influence. Leaders can influence in both negative and positive ways. Leaders either cast shadows or light wherever they go. Jesus meant for us to be salt and light. He calls us out of darkness into light.
Christlike leadership is crucial in helping us and those around us become all that God wants us to be.
Proverbs 11: 14 states: “Without wise leadership a nation is in trouble.” This is true of every area of life. Without wise leadership a family is in trouble, a business is in trouble, a community is in trouble, and/or a Corps (Church) congregation is in trouble. Without wise leadership your own team is in trouble. No single factor is more important in determining the effectiveness of an organization than the quality of its leadership.
Based on this reality leaders need to invest in their own personal growth. That investment is not to receive acclamation from those around us nor is it just for one’s own sake. It is meant to help people around us grow and become healthier and whole.
The ARROW journey for me was instrumental and transformational in my own leadership journey. For a period of 18 months I was in community both onsite and online where I was held accountable by the ARROW faculty and by fellow leaders as well. Their approach and aim is to help leaders in three areas: To be led more by Jesus, to lead more like Jesus and to lead more to Jesus. This seemed to be a perfect fit for me.
It was a time for me not only to gain new skills but also to reflect back on my role as a Christian leader.
- To be led more by Jesus
As a Christian leader I am first and foremost a follower. To use Salvation Army terminology I am a soldier first and secondly an officer. I must continue to learn to surrender and submit to the Lordship of Christ, spending time in His presence, being rooted in Him and learning to understand God’s heart for people.
Henry Nouwen, in his book “In the Name of Jesus” writes:
“Christian leaders cannot simply be persons who have well-informed opinions about the burning issues of our time. Their leadership must be rooted in the permanent, intimate relationship with the incarnate Word, Jesus, and they need to find there the source for their words, advice and guidance.” (pg 45)
The One who offers life giving water calls us to come and spend time with Him so that this water may overflow from us to others.
- To lead more like Jesus
Jesus spent much time around people. As a leader I need to invest in others never putting a task before people. More to the point, I must understand that my tasks are completed in the context of serving God and His people. The disciples were a motley crew but He still led them in love, speaking truth into their lives and not fearing to confront them when this was necessary. Jesus was a leader worth following because people knew that He was authentic. What He said and what He did were one and the same. They knew that He loved them.
Jesus modelled Servant Leadership. Servant leadership is always in the best interest of those being led for it always rejoices in the growth and development of others. Oh Lord help me to lead more like you.
I love the following quote by Andy Stanley:
“You can lead without character. But character is what makes you a leader worth following.”
My only hope is to emulate Christ’s leadership by being led more by Him myself.
- To lead more to Jesus.
In the corporate world success is measured and defined by financial returns, by profit. Christian leadership is not positional or power-based as defined by the secular world. It is a delegated influence given by God. Christlikeness and service defines us.
Brother Lawrence writes:
“Neither success not status defines Christian leaders, service defines a Christian leader.”
It really is about reverse marketing. We begin with Jesus and we end with Jesus. It is all about Him, His Name and His Glory. Sometimes when under pressure we can lose this perspective and miss the whole point of the mission. I have learned the importance of when faced with a relentless schedule of meetings and decision making of stepping on to the balcony for a few moments and regaining a new sense of purpose and perspective. It is all about Jesus.
We work under His authority. General (R) Linda Bond is quoted as saying:
Christian leadership recognizes the privilege of the role as a channel of Christ’s authority. It is responsible to Him and committed to selfless service, marked by integrity and humility.
My prayer is that I may emulate Christ’s leadership and that my service as a Salvation Army leader be one that will bring Him glory and honour.
The same person at the beginning of this article recently asked me if I was now done with learning after ARROW. My response to him was: “For the sake of others, never.” As long as I have breath I will continue my quest to learn.