What is Leadership?
Leadership, in a few words, is the ability to show, direct or guide toward certain objectives by going before, or along with, others.
In this time there is a great need for good leaders and leadership skills.
An important definition to consider could be:
Good leadership is good influence in action.
Leaders Found in the Bible
There has been much discussion on the subject of faithful leadership. Some have presented the thought that leaders are born for this work, and others have said that people are not necessarily born for it, but with proper training and experience can be prepared to be good leaders.
In the Bible there are accounts given of Moses and Paul, whom we know to have been great leaders in God’s service. These men were chosen for their positions, and we might say that it appears that they were born for their work, even though they might not always have agreed with our observations. Let’s look at some Bible references relating to what each of these pillars of the Lord considered about themselves regarding their leadership abilities:
In Exodus 3:10-12 the Lord said to Moses:
Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.
In Exodus 4:10-12 we find:
And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I [am] slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.
In 1 Corinthians 15:9, Paul spoke of himself in these terms relating to his privilege of being a leader in God’s work:
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
He added in 1 Timothy 1:12, 13:
And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.
We also find the experience of Gideon, who is presented in the Biblical record as a rather unlikely candidate for his station in life; but through the direction of God, he was enabled to do a wonderful work in the time he lived in. See Judges chapters 6 and 7 in the Bible for details relating to Gideon’s experience.
Some have been considered more gifted with leadership skills than others, and there have been others who have excused themselves from even considering taking on this work because they felt that they didn’t possess the needed gifts and talents.
Whether this is the case or not, through consecration to the Lord, and implicit trust in His ability to give direction and training, more faithful leaders can come forth to be a blessing to many.
Potential for Leaders
Leaders are needed today in God’s cause; and He is calling for men and women to fill positions of responsibility and trust. We cannot sit back and hope that one day the Lord will work a special miracle and raise up people who have had no previous training or experience along this line. Although it may happen just before Jesus comes, and in a special time of need, nevertheless, we have been given the commission to prepare people to labor with Him in directing His cause on to a glorious finish.
In this study we will be looking at qualities which, if put into action, will prepare people to become successful leaders. In examining these things you will probably notice the need for some abilities that you feel you may not now possess. But don’t become discouraged; ask God to assist you in developing these essential areas. He is looking at what we can become with His help, and waiting to assist you as soon as you realize your need.
The potential for someone to become a successful leader under God’s direction, is unlimited.
Leadership skills are needed in many areas of life. Leadership experience needs to begin in your own life. Beyond that it reaches out to your family, then to the church, and on into the world.
God’s plan for leadership is designed so that at every step along the way to progress everyone can advance and benefit from it.
You might compare a leader in an organization, as an example, to the wheels on a car… the front tires guide the direction the vehicle takes, but they would be of no use were it not for all the other parts that make the car function. One part is not more important than any of the others. All are to work together to make things move forward successfully.
Would you like to know more about good leadership skills? Use this link to go to the Leadership Checklist.
How You Can Become a Better Leader in Christian Service
1. Be Available
The definition of the word available concerns itself with a person being accessible or easy to reach. When we consider this, there are a couple of ways it can be applied to leadership. First, a leader should be able to be easily reached when someone needs to talk with him, such as by telephone or letter. It is very difficult to resolve problems and communicate needs when you can’t speak with the person in charge.
Secondly, a leader needs to be easily communicated with. That is to say, when someon needs to speak with him, that he has developed a personality that is easily approached. Some people are difficult to speak to. They may be moody or express an attitude that causes those they work with to retreat instead of coming forward.
2. Exercise Endurance
The successful leader will stay with the work and the people, and not entertain thoughts of giving up when problems are not easily resolved. It is usually when we keep working faithfully onward that we see fruits in our labors. Endurance, in the end, will be found to have been worthy of all the effort required to keep things on the right path.
3. Keep the Lines of Communication Open
If you hope to keep lines of communication open, it is essential that you associate with people… To talk with them and share ideas and thoughts, as well as difficulties and trials. If you stay away from those you serve, the potential for benefiting them may not be fully reached.
4. Practice Endearance
Perhaps when you first looked at this word, it appeared to be something we talked about earlier. But, this is en-dear-ance. It means that you love the people you seek to guide and bless. even if they don’t appreciate you as much as you do them. They become dear to you. If we are following the example of Jesus, we will strive to assist others to draw together; to unite in a common bond that will lead to eternal life.
The Apostle Paul also wrote:
…I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. 2 Corinthians 12:15
5. Be Trustworthy
Leadership is a trust more than it is a position. God has entrusted you with His most precious possession: people. It is a leaders responsibility to build upon the foundation that God has mapped out for its continuing development and progress.
Along with that, you also need to realize that people look to leaders to be an example of Christian maturity, and who are worthy of their respect.
6. Demonstrate What You Believe
As mentioned above, a leader in any work needs to be an example to others. In our world, Christian values and standards are often attacked. As representatives of God, we need to uplift Christian principles in our daily life for all to see.
The Apostle Paul said:
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1
7. Practice Giving and Sharing
A good leader is one who is willing to freely give of himself, and of the things he possesses, for the good of others. We often enjoy the blessings of God and rejoice that we have been benefactors of His grace and love; but it will mean far more to us and to those we serve if we share what has been placed within our hands and not try to keep it only for ourselves.
8. Make Experiences
There is no substitute for experience. What a leader needs most, is a daily, living, experience with God. That is, to know Him and have the assurance that He is indeed working with us, and we with Him. This experience will continue to grow as we study, pray, and exercise the abilities and talents He has entrusted to us.
9. Delegate Responsibility
One man cannot carry everything alone. It will be essential that you find ways to share your work with others who have shown leadership qualities and a responsible character.
Even Jesus found that He could not be in every place at once while on this earth, so He chose for Himself twelve disciples to help Him in the work. As this was done, He continued to oversee their labors and assist them as needs arose.
10. Keep Your Goals Discernible
Keep the goals you’re seeking to reach clear and understandable. People need to know what they’re working toward, and why. Spell out the details of what is being planned, and put your plans and outlines somewhere they can readily be seen, reviewed, and updated, on a regular basis. What is not seen, or understood clearly, is often forgotten.
11. Anticipate Good Results
People need to know that something is expected of them when they are given a work to do. Too often we assume that because a project has been placed in someone’s hands, that they will automatically respond and complete the assignment acceptably. But, this hasn’t always been the case. Don’t assume anything. Strive to make the instructions clear, and answer any questions that may be asked. Assist your co-workers to become successful producers, and let them know you sincerely appreciate their cooperation.
12. Develop Efficient Work Methods
Methods are ways of doing things efficiently. It takes time to develop them, but much time is saved in the long run if you concentrate attention on such planning in the beginning, rather than trying to figure out why things aren’t working well later on.
13. Keep Things Moving Forward
It is the responsibility of a leader to i nsure that co-workers not only start a work, but implement and finish it. To do this requires a constant attention to detail, and often times frequent reminders.
14. Assist Where Help is Needed
Always do your best to roll up your sleeves and be willing to help when it is needed. This doesn’t mean that you do the work for the person who has an assignment, but that you assist in giving instruction and guidance, and labor together whenever necessary.
15. Build Respect
There aren’t many people who do not like to be respected. We all desire others to think well of us and our opinions and ideas. If we can begin to realize how valuable each person is in the sight of the Lord (keeping in mind the infinite price paid to secure our future life and happiness), and treat each other accordingly, respect will not only grow, but flourish.
16. Keep People Working Together
United we stand, divided we fall. Do your best to prevent divisions from arising. People don’t always agree when the time comes for putting plans into action, and this is usually true when people are considering different ways of doing their work. It is the responsibility of a leader to assist with any problems among the workers, and strive to see that they are resolved, so things can continue running as smoothly as possible.
17. Work to Build Confidence
When problems arise, your ability to build confidence will be tested. There will always be those who seek to test your position and your patience. It is at that point where you must, in a Christian way, clarify again the objectives and encourage cooperation.
Another area of consideration regarding confidence comes when you see people doing a good job… commend them for their accomplishment and help. When people see that their work is appreciated, and that you deal fairly with them, their confidence is strengthened and renewed. This can help bring forth continuing assistance in the future when more things need to be done.
18. Develop Plans
Take the time to make plans, both long and short range types. Work together with others both in making, as well as initiating them. Look carefully at what you hope to accomplish, research your subject well, weigh the pros and cons that may affect its success, consider the costs, and also estimate the number of people needed to complete what is to be implemented.
Create a written, detailed, outline that can be used in the project. All of these things will more than pay for themselves, and the time spent, when you’ve reached your goals.
19. Consider Different Ideas
Unfortunately, not all thoughts and ideas presented for a project can be accepted immediately. People often view things in a different light, or from different perspectives. Don’t be afraid of opposing thoughts because they may end up becoming a road to progress. Opposition often gives you a springboard for new ideas or ways of accomplishing your goals. It is always important to pray, and ask the Lord for guidance and counsel, when opposition arises. When God’s people unite, with the purpose of determining the Lord’s will in a given matter, He often sends just the right answer to keep things going forward.
20. Co-direct in the Work
As leaders, the work of directing is often placed in human hands. Leaders, however, are only to be co-directors, because the Lord is the actual Head of the church and His work. We answer ultimately to Him.
But, it is important that you show others what is needed and assist them in accomplishing their tasks. One thing to keep in mind is that you don’t push or pull people around in the work. Everyone needs to be shown what is to be done, and be encouraged to go forward, but not to be forced to continue.
If someone is not willing to help, and there seems no available way to assist him in participating, it would probably be better to relieve him of his responsibility in that area. God’s plan is not to force people to do things; neither should you try to make others feel guilty for not helping. If a matter is handled wisely, someone who has (perhaps because of his own unwillingness to cooperate) been relieved of his duty, may come back and volunteer to do the same work, even better, at a later time.
On the other hand, if you try to push someone into doing something, they may back away, and because of the trouble that was caused, determine never to take part in the work again. Such experiences can and should be
avoided if at all possible.
21. Develop Good Organizational Skills
The better organized you, your plans, and your work are, the more smoothly things usually can move ahead. Keep the thought of being organized a priority in all that you do in life.
22. Use All Available Resources
Planning and implementing projects can involve a variety of people. In the church there are many people with talents and abilities which may never have been called upon, or utilized, before. When people are asked to participate together they may come forth with new ways of doing things that are very good. Encourage even those who always sit quietly by and say little or nothing. They are often the silent majority of thinkers who possess great ideas.
23. Develop More Resources
As mentioned above, give people the opportunity to grow and learn more so they can have a chance to utilize their skills and talents. Design projects that all can participate in. Everyone is not gifted to do the same things, so let your plans involve a variety of projects to utilize the greatest number of people.
24. Handle Carefully People Who Seem to Possess Difficult Character Traits
People are not problems; People have problems
Help these struggling ones in the same way that Jesus would if He here with us today.
What would Jesus do in this situation? or What did Jesus do in a similar situation?
Try to keep in mind to act the same as you would want someone else to act, were the tables reversed and you were the one with the problem.
Consider the person’s background and experience. They may also have problems associated with their culture or early home environment.
Try to remain objective. Sometimes in having to work with these people, it is forgotten that they too need a chance to receive counsel and kind personal assistance.
Do your best to find out what their real problem is, and then help them wherever you can.
25. Work Toward Successful Meetings
A wise leader will do his best to direct a meeting in such a way that the intended purpose for which it was called will be reached. Keeping things on an orderly course should be one of the main objectives. Don’t allow controverted issues to result in confusion.
When meetings are held often differing ideas arise, as well as methods of working. Sometimes these differences can stir up conflicting emotions and the people begin to present their opinions all at the same time. Keep the reins steady so that the meeting can progress in an orderly way.
In this area also, it is important to be tactful. Make notes on the various thoughts that have been presented and weigh each one carefully before deciding on its final value.
26. Share Decision-making
Make decisions based on what is found to be the best course to pursue, and proceed from there. Obviously, everyone’s views may not be implemented (especially when a conflict of opinion arises), but nevertheless, every thought on the subject should be considered, and the participants encouraged to share their thoughts respectfully.
27. Inspire Cooperation
When people are asked to participate in a project, possibly one that they may not have much knowledge or experience with, there is a tendency at times for them to become nervous or fearful for various reasons. They may seek to pull away and find things that are less stressful to involve themselves with. The work of a leader in this type of situation is to inspire confidence and encourage participation wherever possible. Sometimes only a few words of assurance will be needed, and at other times you might want to consider setting up a training program to assist the people in learning how to do the needed work and answer any questions they might have regarding it. In either case you will be imparting to them a positive reinforcement toward reaching the desired goals.
28. Make Changes and Improvements Where Needed
If it is seen that changes might produce better results, or enable you to make more progress, don’t hesitate to act. Take time to plan any considered developments carefully, and involve as many as are interested in the plans to assist wherever possible. Some people resist changes, but if proposed improvements are in harmony with the truth, can be a benefit and blessing to the cause, and there’s no other justifiable reason not to begin, don’t delay putting them into action.
29. Remember That Long Held Ideas are Often Difficult to Change
If something has been done a certain way for many years, and you find, upon examining existing methods, that there are some things which need changing in order to make progress, you may be surprised to find that it can be difficult to alter a course that has always been traveled. There is no set way to tell you how to begin infusing new inspiration and thinking into the minds of the people, but the best suggestion is that you move slowly and prayerfully, seeking God’s direction at every point. Don’t give up. Keep in mind that even the Lord sometimes has problems with us in this area too. Be patient. The wheels of progress often turn slowly. Keep going.
30. Leave the Results With God
Remember that we are all co-laborers together with God. The work and its future rests in His hands. Leaders are called upon to faithfully do their best, but they must leave the final results with the Lord.
Developing more Christian leadership skills
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. II Timothy 2:15
1. Study carefully how Jesus worked with His disciples and the people.
2. Read Christian books and articles relating to good leadership development and keep notes so you can refer to them in the future
3. Study other sources of information on leadership. Glean from them the best information that is in harmony with the truth, and principles of God, and apply them as needed in your work.
4. Speak with other successful leaders. Their experiences may play a role in assisting you in God’s work. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Leaders are just people, like the rest of us, and are usually willing to share what they have learned throughout their years of experience.
5. Learn from your mistakes. One of the best places to obtain more help relating to leadership is from your own mistakes. More often than not, good can come as a result if you let your mistakes teach you lessons that need to be learned, but not repeated.
A few closing thoughts
Leading people is not an easy work. There are many personalities and characters to interact with, decisions to make, things to plan, and do.
Often it will seem like efforts to keep things on the right road have been put forth in vain. But, in spite of such feelings, continue on, and be transformed by the grace of Christ. All who allow this to be done can become excellent leaders and a great blessing for God.
With these thoughts in mind we come to the close of this Leadership Training study. May it serve to broaden your understanding of ways in which to become more efficient servants for God. We have attempted to give you some helpful guidelines to consider and apply to your life which can lead to success and blessings for many who need what God has given you to use for Him. We hope it has been helpful.
This article was written by Chris Teske
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