This week we are looking at leadership. Before even launching in what true leadership is let’s analyze what it takes to be a great leader.
A recent quote I read by John C Maxwell was
A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way.
This is pivotal in our conversation about leaders because true leadership inspires hope and centres on the character. It begs the question Who are you when no one is looking?
Leadership is anyone you have influence over, so if you have people in your world who you care about and are responsible for, you have the potential to be a great leader. See, few of us are aware of the power we can hold to influence others. For instance, I am a leader to my children. My greatest achievement is in the way I lead and guide my children and my grandchildren. I see them as my legacy and how I conduct myself with them determines how they will conduct themselves with others. Teaching them the importance of integrity and a strong character is high on my priority list so in each situation I face as a parent, I have this agenda on my mind.
What’s that old saying? Children follow what is caught not what is taught?
Well, I propose to you today that character and integrity are the markings of a great leader. Further to this, we live in a world where people want to know they matter and are thought about. Within our families, churches and organizations lies this same belief system. I want to belong. In her book, Brene Brown explores this phenomenon of love and belonging as a shame researcher. She says
One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing. In fact, fitting in is one of the greatest barriers to belonging. Fitting in is about assessing a situation and becoming who you need to be in order to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn’t require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are.
How true this is! As a leader the more we create an atmosphere that supports belonging the more successful we can be in achieving our goals.
Let’s look at some influential leaders:
Judges 6 reveals a pretty interesting story on how God pursues leaders with strong character who seemingly have no significance. (oh, how I love how he does that!). So essentially the Israelites (Gods chosen people) made some bad choices and became oppressed by the Midianites. It was that bad they built shelters on the side of mountains and were without food. They finally cried out to God asking for help. Gideon is sitting there quietly trying to thresh wheat through a winepress. Suddenly an angel appears calling him a mighty warrior. I can imagine in this situation Gideon did not feel he was a warrior! God tells him that he is going to save Israel. So beautiful, isn’t it? Gideon says, but wait! I’m the weakest in the family…. Why me? God just reinforces “ I’ll use you to strike down these Midianites”, and he did.
This exemplifies that leaders can be anywhere, even on a side of a hill. The makings of a good leader can be explained as having the ability to stand strong in the face of opposition knowing integrity and character wins people over.
Jesus himself constantly illustrated the importance of having strong character in leadership. He illustrated how true leadership requires a servant’s heart. He washed the disciple’s feet, acknowledged the importance of serving when leading. He instructed the disciples to do the same and so should we. (John 13).
As I look back over my own experiences I can isolate times in my life when great leaders influenced me. I don’t remember the details of the circumstances but I remember clearly how I FELT. So with that in mind, lets ask some crucial questions:
Do I create hope and accept my team, family, the church as they are?
Do we as a team agree on the directive, goal, mission statement?
Do I advocate for diversity and is it encouraged?
I’d encourage asking these questions. In leadership positions I have been involved in I ask questions a lot. It has helped me to see myself through the eyes of someone else. It very enlightening!
I agree with Maxwell and Brown wholeheartedly. Id encourage you to live vulnerably and increase your own self-awareness because in that discovery you invite wholeheartedly living. As Jesus said ” out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” ( Matthew 12:34).
Remeber love always wins!