For some time I have been thinking about a paradigm for leadership development. I have not been satisfied with what I have seen in recent leadership literature. Again, this paradigm is not for how to lead–more on that later. But this paradigm is for the purpose of developing leaders.
So far I have thought through five aspects that all begin with the letter “C.” Here are the five–I will take one at a time over the next several days and add some of my insights: Community, Capacity, Character, Competency, and Christ-centered.
Community. This word can be defined in several ways. But what we usually mean as Christians is something closer to the Biblical definition of “fellowship.” The Greek word is koinonia–which literally means participation with, sharing in. It is more intimate and involved than simple proximity or common interests. It is knowing and being known. This type of community is critical in the life of a leader.
There is a natural tendency to greater levels of leadership–that is greater and greater isolation. As a leader rises in titles and responsibilities there are naturally fewer people who are willing to confront the leader and the leader has a shrinking number of peers. Yet isolation is killing spiritual leaders every day. We see the results in the media regularly. A leader becomes isolated physically and emotionally–and before long they fall prey to immorality, financial misdeeds, or some other character deforming deed. And they are soon disqualified from the ministry.
The higher a leader rises the more they must be intentional about maintaining authentic community. But how? 1. The leader must see and understand the Biblical value of being in community. 2. The leader will have to take the initiative to seek out a peer community. 3. The leader must be willing to live in authenticity–realizing that their strength is not in appearances but in a grace and truth community that points them to Christ. 4. The leader must seek the sponsorship of a supportive following that will allow them the time to pursue community. Too many times it is the congregation or those that report to the leader who do not allow the leader the freedom to be in community–they expect perfection and 24 hour, on demand work days.
There are two settings I know where leadership community is being promoted and exhibited. One is my former pastor in Austin, Texas–Rob Harrell. Several years ago Rob joined a group of other pastors in Austin who meet regularly to share their burdens, to pray for one another, and enjoy community. There are now over 60 pastors in Austin who meet in small groups to do the same. David English is another friend of mine who spends his full time promoting spiritual health in men through covenant teams of peers. David teaches on this through observed principles that all men pass through as they go through life. He arranges regular retreat settings where these covenant groups can meet and enjoy prolonged time to enjoy authentic community. All of this to the end that men–and leaders–finish well.
Community in the life of a leader is an absolute must–but not easy. It has to be pursued doggedly for a lifetime.