1 Chronicles 22 provides a good example of what I consider to be the three daily tasks of any spiritual leader. In this portion of the Bible King David is making necessary preparations for the building of the temple. It has been his dream to provide a permanent place for the presence of God among His people. But God communicated to David that he would not be the one to actually construct the temple and see it to completion. Because David was also a warrior and had blood on his hands, God limited David to the preplanning, but not the construction or the completion of the temple. That would be reserved for David’s son Solomon to do. Yet, even in his limitations, David exhibits the following three qualities that are a daily necessity for leaders.
1. Give clear direction. Followers simply and rightly want to know what is expected of them. They want to know where the enterprise is headed. They want to know what is “true north.” A good leader should be able to provide that for those he leads in daily doses. David does so in verses 1-5. He communicates clearly that a house of God is to be built and an altar must accompany the temple. He communicates clearly to the laborers that it will be Solomon who will see this through. There was no doubt as to what the direction of the endeavor would be.
2. Provide adequate resources. Leaders must also provide their followers with the necessary resources to actually carry out what they have been directed to do. Resources can come in the form of money, tools, or people. It could be in the form of training or expertise. It can even come in the form of providing hope. Again, this should be a daily consideration for the good leader. What do my people need today to succeed? In verses 14-19 David clearly communicates to Solomon all of the resources he has provided for him for the construction of the temple. David has provided both raw materials and expertise so that his son can complete the vision.
3. Point people to Christ. Finally, good leaders must continually point their followers to Christ as their ultimate source of dependence and hope. There is not doubt that there will be days when the task will be discouraging. There will be other days where wild success will tempt people to be proud. The good leader knows how to handle both imposters and direct the people’s gaze back to Christ. David does this for his son in verses 6-13. Not only does David porvide Solomon with a clear picture of what is to be accomplished, but he also reminds him that God will be with him every step of the way. It is God who will grant Solomon success.
I truly believe that every spiritual leader can measure his or her day according to these three tasks and know how well they have done in leading. As I start my day and end my day I try to ask: Did I give clear direction so that people knew what was expected of them? Did I provide adequate resources so that people had what they needed to succeed? Did I point people to the deep well that is Christ for their ultimate source of hope and dependence?
If I can say that I have done this to the best of my ability, I can know that I have led pretty well and fulfilled my daily calling.
Here are the top five most popular posts from my blog in May:
Young Leaders-Be Easy To Lead I love leading and learning from Millennial leaders. And like any leader their is always room to grow. Here are a few principles on what that might look like for this valuable generation.
Delegation vs Empowerment I distinguish between these two concepts and argue the need for greater empowerment to raise up more leaders.
Finishing Well In this post I share three critical principles for finishing well as a spiritual leader.
The Foundation of Servant Leadership This post highlights a foundational element for all spiritual leaders from John 13.
5 for Leadership on May 25th The “5 for Leadership” series has proven to be a popular weekly addition. This particular one really got the hits-check out these five leadership posts.
Posted in Character, Delegation, Empowerment, Leader, Leader Traits, Leadership, Leadership Development, Leading, Servant Leadership
Tagged Leadership, Millennial, Servant leadership, Spiritual leader
Yesterday, I was part of an energizing time of leader development with all of the staff of our church here in Austin. While I was upfront making a brief presentation on the framework that we would be using for development, a critical question was asked by one of the participants. I had made the comment that I think it is difficult to finish well as a spiritual leader. They asked, “How does one finish well?” It was a very genuine question from a 30 something leader who doesn’t want to blow it. I have been thinking about that question ever since. In that spirit, I want to offer three enemies to finishing well and two imperatives to finishing well:
Enemies to Finishing Well as a Spiritual Leader 1. Isolation This may be the biggest enemy I see of well intentioned leaders who fail to finish well. Leaders must seek out and remain in community. I would actually suggest finding community on more than one level. It can be difficult for a leader to find safe, honest community. One level must be among peers who are committed to each other to honesty and safety. Another profitable level, if that leader is married, could be to develop community with other couples that love and serve one another. You may need community both inside and outside the organization. As leaders move up the organizational ladder there is a always a pull towards isolation-and isolation is deadly. We must know and be known to end well. To live in isolation is ultimately the posture of the secluded and deceived.
2. Anger and Cynicism It is easy as a leader, especially for older leaders, to become angry and cynical about their organization or the people around them. This can be especially true if the leader’s envisioned path does not work out just as they thought it would. There is no such thing as an unwounded leader. We all go through organizational bumps and bruises-but how we respond to them can make all the difference. If we turn towards anger, bitterness and cynicism we will shorten our effective leadership lives and finish poorly. This is the posture of a cynic.
3. Power Hoarding I know of a leader today that seemingly can’t let go of their position and power. A friend once told me that an occasional “clean white board” is necessary for staying fresh and finishing well. It’s not that I am against continuity or longevity, but we should regularly ask if we have outlived our usefulness in whatever role we find ourselves. A “clean whiteboard” forces us to fresh learning and new dependence-which can be a great friend in helping us to finish well. To hoard power and not be able to relinquish position may serve to shorten our effective leadership lives. This is the posture of an oligarch.
Imperatives to Finishing Well as a Spiritual Leader 1. A Surrendered Life As spiritual leaders we must always be conscious of our broken, flawed lives. There are no omni-competent leaders. A spiritual leader is meant to live his or her life in full voluntary surrender to Jesus Christ. He must be our wisdom, our power, our compassion, our courage-our center. It is only as we live continually surrendered to him that we experience theses necessary leadership qualities in gracious stewardship towards his glory and kingdom. This is the posture of a bond servant.
2. A Commitment to Being a Lifetime Learner The other imperative is that we remain humble learners for a lifetime. There will come a day when all of us will report to someone younger and must be able to learn from someone younger. If we can’t do that we will begin to see our leadership platform begin to erode. Remaining fresh as a humble learner allows us to maintain our platform for influence wherever we lead. Remaining a humble learner helps to assure that we will not see ourselves as the center of the leadership universe. It helps us to be followers as well as leaders. It helps us empower others-to raise up the next generation of leaders. This is the posture of a sage.
Finish well that you might agree with the Apostle Paul when he said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Here are the top five most popular posts from my blog in April:
1. Delegation vs Empowerment I distinguish the difference between these two concepts and argue the need of greater empowerment in raising up more leaders.
2. 5 for Leadership-April 12th I highlight Tim Milburn, Angela Maiers, Bill Flint, Tim Sacket, and Michael McKinney in some quality posts on leadership.
3. The Posture of a Spiritual Leader This post takes a look at some critical principles out of John 8 on how a spiritual leader should view themselves.
4. What Is Fairness I explore the concept of “fairness” and contrast it to the principle of “justice”in our society today.
5. Principled Leadership In this post I make the case for not getting caught up in all of the leadership or ministry fads-but rather looking for the timeless principles behind a strategy or innovation.
I hope these will be of benefit to you.
Last time I detailed some possible poor responses to complexity. Now I want to look at what it takes to get into focus–since focus is the key to solving complexity.
I believe that focus begins with knowing the right questions to ask to analyze the situation–first, which questions does a spiritual leader need to ask weekly?
1. Am I treasuring Christ personally? Am I helping others to do the same?
2. What is it only I can do?
3. What are the highest leverage activities I can be involved in today, this week, tis month? (These will most likely be issues of critical mass-investing in your team, funding issues, building partnering relationships, etc.
4. What are the systemic problems in the ministry? Keep asking “Why?”
5. What are the next steps in the mission?
Another critical component to getting to focus is a leader taking time to prayerfully consider his leadership. This can happen through weekly times of thought and reflection and through periodic personal retreats. Consider the following:
1. A reflective leader is a forward thinking leader.
2. A refreshed leader is a gracious leader.
3. A refocused leader is a refreshed leader.
4. A called leader is an enduring leader.
A third piece in getting to focus is prayerfully considering your team:
1. Who is on my team (paid staff, volunteers, partners, etc.)?
2. What are their gifts and abilities?
3. What is our sense of unity-relationally and in the mission?
4. Do they have clear direction?
5. Do they have adequate resources?
6. Do they appropriately own the mission?
7. If they are doing the best they can with what they have–what do they need to get better?
8. Are they experiencing Christ–personally and in community?
To sum up–the key to complexity is not simplicity but getting to focus. In my mind this is essential for every spiritual leader. To not lead something with complexity is to not be leading anything of significance. Complexity is part of the job–but so is a keen sense of godly focus.