a powerful leadership culture
It's been a while, but here is my most recent article. You can also locate some of our material at http://www.burningones.tv. I love the quote by Napoleon Bonaparte, “A leader is a dealer in HOPE.” I suppose that makes God the ultimate dealer in hope. Paul describes God as the “God of hope” who desires that we “overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” .
It is easy in these days to be lured into subtle places of settling where what we see is believed to be the “best it will ever be.” Hope speaks to the contrary. Hope is the confident expectation that a better future is seeking to be made known. In life, in relationships, in finances, in leadership and etc. we have all tasted the bitter waters of disappointment and we have lived with the aftertaste of “the lowered bar of what is possible.”
In our role as leaders it is paramount that we establish a healthy environment where we live and lead as leaders who reproduce. Hope wants to be reproduced. As some of you, I am in a transition season and part of the transition is learning to go from “productive” to “reproductive.” This is a very powerful and synergistic time. For all of us as leaders it is important that we become “reproductive.” Leaders reproduce WHO they are. Period. I find that statement to be daunting and full of challenge. Therefore you must grow in inner strength and character so you, by the Holy Spirit’s power, govern yourself and manage yourself well in the presence of others.
Identifying with others and leveraging leadership for a movement is a product of a healthy inner being as well as a powerful leadership environment. Let me speak for a moment about the qualities of a healthy leadership environment. The qualities of effective leadership that will help establish a strong link are: 1) Connecting; 2)Empowerment; 3) Safety; and 4) Unconditional Love.
Connecting is about getting close to someone’s heart. I remember in 2009 when Danny Silk was at Church of the Hills. He referenced his book, “Loving Our Kids on Purpose” and noted how people assumed he was writing a book on how to raise perfect children. I remember so clearly this moment because it liberated me from a pressure to raise perfect children. He stated that he did not write the book as a “How-To” manual on raising perfect children, but instead as a guide to getting close to the heart of your children. As Bill Hybels, a noted Christian leader, said, “We need a strategy under our enthusiasm.” What then, are the qualities of our strategy for creating a powerful leadership culture?
Quality #1: Connection - Connection is about gaining a “heart to heart” link with those that we lead. There are several definitions for “connect” but one that fits well in this context is, “hit the intended target.” As leaders we have a heart full on for God. We are full of faith and pure passion. We have committed not to pour our life out on temporary things. However, if we are not careful, our zealousness for leading causes us to bypass the necessary link to the heart of those we lead. We must have a strategy that supports and sustains our enthusiasm as leaders. We want to hit the mark. Passion and Skill must be added together. This is part of the “Life-Cycle” of a leader. Scripture sparkles with a few facets useful for connecting.
a. Lead with a FULL TANK - “...Jesus went up by HIMSELF on a mountainside to pray” . If your emotional and spiritual tank are full then you have capacity to get in the world of those we lead. From my own life and from talking with other leaders, there appears to be more “irons in the fire” than there is fire! You must ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and carve out time for yourself to maintain a “full tank” emotionally and spiritually. If you are going to reproduce WHO you are, then reproduce a healthy you, not a dysfunctional you.
b. Lead with a FOCUSED PERSPECTIVE - “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” . How often we get distracted by someone’s behavior and lose site of who God says they are. Those we lead are part of the “Royal Priesthood.” We can not afford to lose site of their high and regal calling. When their behavior does not line up with their identity we remind them of who God says they are. Lead them in healing prayer, deliverance and prophetic ministry. Help them renounce and break off agreements made with the enemy through negative or sinful choices and live again as royal ambassadors of God’s kingdom.
c. Lead with a FAITHFUL EAR - “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become anger, for man’s anger doe snot bring about the righteous life that God desires” . Nothing like a verse that stings the heart huh? If you are around leaders as much as I am you will notice that we are an opinionated group of people who often believe we are “right” and if people would just listen to us and do what we say the world would be a better place. I have taken it as a personal, high value to listen more than I speak. Would you consider the same? James, the man of Proverbial Wisdom in the New Testament admonishes us not to just listen, but “be quick to listen.” Often our mouths and our opinions pull the trigger first. Practice the lost art of listening. It takes practice and skill, but it’s one that you can grow in. Think about it. When you are sharing your heart, you are often just looking for a listening ear. Those whom we lead are not any different. Let’s listen more than normal this week.
Quality #2: Empowerment - The proverbs tell us that if we “train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it” . I would like to submit that we train a child to not only go, but go POWERFULLY. Don’t you agree? We want our children, spiritual children, those we lead to go and do ministry, live life, love others FULL of POWER! When others are found in a mess, we are not quick to solve it, instead ask, “What are you going to do to clean up your mess?” We have learned that we give people choices and inspire them to know that they can manage themselves with excellence in the presence of others. We are desirous of WIN/WIN scenarios for those we lead. Sometimes their vision is blurred by the circumstances and details. Like Paul in Acts 9, their eyes have been blinded and they need us to pray for them and lead them. Do so valiantly! But give them choices and teach them to govern themselves. If leaders reproduce WHO they are, then I hope you are hearing the need for you to manage yourself in the presence of other with excellence and integrity. Empowerment requires follow up. You need to measure that which you are managing and leading. Follow up with people. Empowerment is not a “hands-off” approach to leadership. Empowerment clearly defines the goals, the processes or systems. It delegates the necessary authority to make decisions and then FOLLOWS UP to measure progress and development. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. He is our friend. He is God inside of us and he convicts us, confirms our identity as sons/daughters, and guides us into all truth. Conviction is an expression of Him “following up” with you and holding you accountable to what you said “yes” to. Let’s not neglect or overlook His role in this powerful leadership culture.
Quality #3: Safety - Why could sinners and tax collectors have a meal with Jesus? Because he loved them? Sure. Because they were free from accusation? Probably. But I would propose that Jesus created a safe place for ‘sinners and tax collectors’. Those we lead need a safe place that shouts loudly with our heart and attitude, “I CAN HANDLE YOUR SIN!” All of us need a place where we feel safe and free from judgement. We know we may be corrected and that choices have consequences, but that is different than creating a safe place where sin can be exposed. Too often ‘where sin abounds, grace does not abound enough.’ I am not proposing a ‘sloppy-agape’ approach to ministry, but simply to say that all of us need a safe place. Love is proactive. Can I remind you of what Love does? It “never gives up, cares more for others than self, doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always me first, doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end” . WOW! I don’t think there is much more to say about the need for love and it’s powerful, pro-active nature. Lead with the heart of a servant, but serve with the heart of a King. Create a safe place and people will blossom.
Quality #4: Unconditional Love - I know you may have thought I just covered this point. Well, after all Paul said that three things remain, but the one and only true great thing is LOVE. I believe it’s a Beatles’ tune that says, “All my loving, I will send to you” . The ability to love others unconditionally is a result of you receiving Father God’s unconditional love for you. This kind of love and acceptance is what we all long for. We were made to want it and need it. Jesus was sent as the sacrifice for us to live with it and have it as an experiential reality. Whether we are like the Invalid in John 5 with no ability walk and move forward in life or we are like the one caught in sin, his love is unconditional and liberates and sets free. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and...he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him” . Let me remind of you that Jesus was sent with the Father’s affirmation. He was declared to be his beloved Son and God was pleased with him. He was sent by the leading of the Holy Spirit into the desert, but came out of the desert in the power of the Spirit. The same quality of sending Jesus got, you and I have gotten. “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you” . We may not ‘shout with joy’ at the wilderness we find ourselves in, but His unconditional love is empowering us in the Holy Spirit and making us into powerful people who will also “do good and heal all who are under the power of the devil.”
I ask that God refine you by his fiery love and saturate you with his joy, his honor, his integrity and grant you greater intimacy with his heart. Go and lead mighty warriors. The best days are ahead of us!
All Scripture references are Zondervan, The Holy Bible, New International Version,
Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
unless otherwise noted.
- Romans 15:13
- Matthew 14:24
- 1 Samuel 16:7
- James 1:19-20
- Proverbs 22:6
- 1 Corinthians 13:7-9, The Message Translation
- “All my Loving” by the Beatles
- Acts 10:38
- John 20:21