Each one of us is uniquely designed with certain callings and passions that help us navigate through life. One such gift is leadership. Some are called to lead large groups of people even nations while others are called to guide one person at a time.Most of us will have an opportunity to shepherd at some point, whether it be leading our children, church small-group, or CEO of a Fortune 500. The question is how will you lead when it’s your turn to step up?
There’s no question that Adolf Hitler was a rare leader that could manipulate the masses to commit heinous crimes against the Jews. I’ve often wondered, what would have happened if he had used that gift of leadership for good? Would Germany have become an influential and prosperous country had they followed someone good and honorable?
Every leader has the same choice Hitler did – lead for good or lead for evil. Sadly, many didn’t learn from history. They may not be instigating mass genocide against a people, but they are emotionally destroying their families, employees, and organizations. Why is that? There’s a lack of Biblical understanding of leadership. Let’s take a look at some principles that will create an atmosphere of growth, passion, and excitement with those you are called to shepherd.
1. See to Influence
He has filled me with bitterness; he has sated me with wormwood. – Lamentations 3:15, ESV
Your job as a leader is to instill passion within the hearts of your group. How can a CEO effectively lead unless he/she comes out of their office and takes the time to understand the employees who work at the ground level? How can a pastor speak to a congregation unless they interact with their parishioners to learn about their spiritual needs? How can a parent support their children unless they take the time to talk with them? The answer is that they can’t.
As shepherds, you need to get out of your offices and mingle at ground zero to understand the reality of those under you. Human lives aren’t found on databases and spreadsheets. Whether you’re a board member of a non-profit, a pastor, a CEO, or a parent, you must make the time in your schedules to visit the trenches and be hands-on.If you can’t take the time to do that, then you shouldn’t lead. How can anyone lead and influence if they don’t ever see the need or the people they’re reaching? They can’t, and yet, that is exactly what many leaders try to do and inevitably fail.
2. Don’t Withhold Good
Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” – Proverbs 3:27, NIV
You’d be amazed at how many leaders dismiss this basic principle. I’ve received this question before, “Why do I need to thank them or praise them when it’s something they’re supposed to do?” Because God said so? If you want those in your circle to continue doing the right thing, then you as a leader need to praise them so that they will know they hit the mark.
If they don’t understand where the target is, how are they going to know where to aim? As we all know, if you aim at nothing, you hit nothing. Praise and appreciation help us to know where and how to hit the target. Without this, you’re going to have frustrated children, frustrated congregations, and angry staff. Think of God and what he would do.
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! – Matthew 7:9-11, ESV
God is all about giving good gifts, encouragement, praise, and affirmations. If God says that this works better than destructive criticism (not talking about constructive criticism), then why do so many fall back on authoritarian sarcasm? You can’t effectively lead if you’re all about pushing your authority around. You will accomplish absolutely nothing positive.
3. What You Sow is What You Reap
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. – Galatians 6:7, ESVIf a leader shows the above two principles, they will reap a great reward from those that follow. Passion will be ignited when people are allowed to see the needs and are allowed to be a part of meeting those needs. When they receive appreciation and affirmation for not only their work but for who they are, they will have greater input and outcomes.
Those leaders who are all about pushing their weight will only reap hopelessness and resentment in their followers. Work will decline, turnovers will be greater, and anxiety will wreak havoc on lives. Families, organizations, and churches will not flourish in that kind of environment. Leaders, sow encouragement and hope. Your return on the emotional and mental investment will affect you financially!
4. Know Your Place
“Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. – John 13:12-16, ESV
News flash! As a leader, you are not as big as you may think you are. The God of this universe, the Creator of mankind, knelt on his knees before his creation and performed a very humble and dirty job. He washed the feet of his followers.
I made the mistake once of asking my boss a question. I can’t remember what it pertained, too, but all I remember was his response. “I can do this because I am the boss!” I was extremely surprised at this juvenile-type tantrum. Those in authority who have to remind people of their position, don’t know how to lead. Strutting around an office or puffing up a parental chest doesn’t make you a good leader, it only makes you a target of resentment.
Leaders, get on your “knees” before your followers and serve them. Serve them as Christ has served you. Serve them with love, gentleness, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Give them hope and a future.
Don’t ask your children or staff to do anything that you’re not willing to do yourself. Let them see you clean a toilet every once in a while. Do a coffee run for them instead of having it done for you all the time. Respect is won through servant leadership.
5. Cast A Vision
Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law. – Proverbs 29:18, ESV
As discussed in a previous blog, future casting is important. Not only do mission statements provide the funnel through which decisions and programs are passed, but they also keep an organization on target. Goals motivate people into forward motion.
The key element to mission statements and goals is the why. Why are we doing what we’re doing? Why do we have to have these outcomes by this time? Why are we promoting these values in our kids? If the why is unclear, then chaos is bound to happen.
6. Be Wise As Serpents
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” – Matthew 10:16, ESV
Sadly, there are two groups of people – predator and prey. Leaders can fall into either category. Those who bully, manipulate, and are self-centered prey upon their followers wreaking havoc and pain within their circle. Those shepherds who are well-meaning, kind, generous, and only see the good in people become prey to the employee who wants their position.
Out of kindness or fear of conflict they turn a blind eye, excusing poor behavior from their followers. Although well-intended, this leadership style brings its own kind of chaos to an organization. God says to be wise as a serpent. Be aware, on guard, watchful! Don’t be afraid to do tough things. Don’t be afraid to confront and let go if necessary. All this can still be done while maintaining your integrity and kindness.
If you find yourself in a leadership position and are unsure how to shepherd those who are under you, schedule an appointment with me. We will take a deeper dive into Biblical leadership that will produce a far greater legacy than you can imagine.
“Leaf of Love”, Courtesy of Bea Marques, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Green Field”, Courtesy of TheDigialArtist, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Dirty Feet”, Courtesy of Tortugadatacorp, Pexels.com, CC0 License; “Green Snake”, Courtesy of Mike 68, Pexels.com, CC0 License