12 LEADERSHIP TRUTHS EVERY LEADER NEEDS TO KNOW AND PRACTICE
When King Solomon told his son “of the making of many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12), his words are still true today. Back on October 26, 2015, the 299th day of that year, it was reported that as of that day, 1,246 paperback books on leadership had been published. That’s an average of 4 books per day.
Amazing! I must confess several of those books were penned by me. I wonder how many articles were written on leadership during those 299 days. How many seminars and workshops were conducted?
What is the major and minor purpose or objective of leadership? The answer is one word: RESULTS. How we get there is the stuff all those leaders' books are all about.
At the end of the game, it doesn’t matter how well you played, how loud the fans yelled, or how colorful your uniforms were, etc. What matters is the RESULTS. Did you win or lose? Which?
Church and spiritual leadership differ greatly from secular leadership at the core level—the unchangeable factors. These are the impeccable truths from God’s word which determine spiritual results and do not change.
God’s core truths, which are used in this lesson to focus on the essential, enduring, and effective leadership truths. They are cause and effect. Most leadership principles are tied to the process, i.e. plans, goals, and process. God’s core leadership truths do not change with the culture, times, nor wishes of followers. The core of unchanging leadership principles is TRUTH—God’s truth (Proverbs 23:23).
It is in the context of people where the venues of God’s truth develop a strong foundation that lasts regardless of what may or may not happen on the action road to results. It is in DOING, not around nor about the word, but in the purity of the WORD that sustains leadership success.
Why so Many Leadership Books?
What does this proliferation of leadership books say to those of us who are leaders and interested in leadership? I think several observations can be made:
- There is unlimited freedom to write and publish books on leadership. It is our First Amendment right.
- Everyone has an opinion about leadership as is free to express it.
- There never seems to be a decline in interest related to leadership. It is a popular subject.
- The numerous institutions, with different objectives, need differing leadership principles and practices.
- The understanding of the nature of leadership continually shifts as academics and pep-rally gurus shape our mindsets relative to leadership.
- The endless number of leadership books and seminars point out the fact that most leadership philosophies and principles don’t last for very long. The sands keep shifting.
- Some are waiting for the next book by their favorite author (e.g. John Maxwell). What he has already written needs improving, approached differently, and emphasis needs shifting.
- The demands tied to the science and art of leadership are not static. They are always changing.
- The leadership team, trainees, and veteran leaders continue to change. Leaders come and leaders go. What may have worked as a method months or years ago, has changed. Each new leader brings a new set of dynamics.
- Reading, studying, and emphasizing leadership don’t produce a leader. An office or title doesn’t make a person a leader.
- The world is changing at an almost out-of-control rate. The media has brought the world together. It is having an impact on character, morals, ethics, and practices in every person’s life; especially leaders—church leaders, too.
- The lack of individual commitment to see self as a leader has contributed to the perceived need for an “expert” to train me. An attitude of “I can’t make it on my own” has emerged.
I am sure there are additional reasons we could note for the continual growth and interest in leadership books, seminars, and articles. These 12 are only introductory eye-openers.
World’s Best Leadership Advice
Have I lost my mind? Do I dare advocate there is the “World’s best leadership advice” during 4 new books being published every day on leadership? Why do I dare and make this claim? One reason. These leadership principles are based on commonsense and the truth of God’s word. These principles aren’t based on culture, academics, and human wisdom.
Here are those truths deducted from a Study and application of Scripture, Scripture inspired by God for the intended purpose of directing mankind (cf. 2 Timothy 3:15-17; 2 Peter 1:3).
- The first question is: Where does all leadership begin? It starts with a person. It doesn’t start with an abstract concept nor observations in the animal kingdom. All leadership starts with the man in the mirror. Remove him and you don’t have leadership. This principle is taken from Ezekiel…..” I sought for A MAN” (Ezekiel 22:30). Leadership doesn’t start with a committee or group; it starts with a man. YOU!
- Leadership is based on knowing, understanding, believing, and activating a clear mission. Our mission as church leaders has been clear for almost 2000 years. It was given to us by our Leader—Jesus Christ. We have chosen to call it the “Great Commission.” It is recorded in the Gospels (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16; Luke 24).
- Effective spiritual leadership is based on a 101 percent commitment to our mission. 99% won’t do. Our mission starts with a commitment to our King. Here is the core of our allegiance: “If any man will come after Me, let him DENY himself, take up his CROSS, and FOLLOW Me” (Matthew 16:24).
- Effective and approved leadership originate and flows from the heart. It starts with our thinking (Proverbs 23:7), then is demonstrated in our behavior (Mark 7:21-25), and is based on the Greatest Commandment—Love (Mark 12). There are over 800 Scriptures that reference the heart; obviously, it is a key to successful and God-approved leadership.
- Effective and approved leadership is guided by LOVE. Love is the basis of our obeying our Master (John 14:15). Love is the basis of keeping His commandments. Love is the practice that will “cause all men to know that you are My disciples (John 13:31-33). Love is the greatest. Some of its major attributes are described in 1 Corinthians 13.
- Effective, commanded, and approved spiritual leadership is based on being a servant; not being served. There have been and are presently, many great examples of serving. None, however, are greater than the one where God dropped to His knees and washed the disciples’ feet (cf. John 13:5-20).
- The effective spiritual leader stands firmly on God’s word. All ideas, programs, and efforts are launched, sustained, and perpetuated by Biblicist’s obeying God’s word (i.e. believing and practicing God’s word). The first question which must be asked before any movement is made in pursuing a leadership objective is: What does God’s word say? The danger is one of “launching” from a verse and what it originally meant, to now making it into something else to prop up an idea, program, or personal agenda.
- An unchangeable principle of leadership is accountability. From Adam and Eve (Genesis 1-3) through Revelation 22:21, God alone is the author, sustainer, and judger of whether or not His will has been done. His will must not be confused with man-made programs, rules, and standards of accountability. Jesus said His word would judge us on the last day (cf. John 12:48), and Paul said we will be judged by his Gospel.
- There is no doubt, nor should there be, that an unchangeable and effective leadership truth is leading by FAITH. A leader may have charisma, knowledge of biblical languages, speak with “tongues and men and angels”, cajole and persuade others to accept his agenda, BUT “without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God” (Hebrews 11:6). Because “We walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 4). Sadly, most leaders determine what they will do or not do by the balance on the checkbook, approval by members, and personal applauds by followers.
- Few things should be more obvious to both leaders and followers than the dynamic and essential place of communication in leadership efforts. The rule of communication is: “You cannot, not communicate.” The challenge is—what are you communicating? Leadership communication is tied to influence. Influence relates to two major qualities: what a leader DOES and what He SAYS. With what he DOES being the most powerful of the two.
- Another major principle of leadership that must always be in place is the training and education of leaders. Have you ever thought about the fact that Jesus didn’t spend His time behind the closed doors of a theological institute, making a rare public appearance, and giving selected lectures to paid attendees? Why did He spend His years of public ministry selecting and training leaders? Paul was the master trainer of preachers, leaders, and servants. Timothy would be a prime example.
- The last principle I will mention is actually the first. All leadership begins, continues, and culminates with the “attitude of Christ.” The previous eleven principles will not become realities until your attitude is that of Christ. Paul commands us to have the attitude of Christ (cf. Philippians 2:4-7). Everyday leaders are given a set of circumstances with which they must deal. How they deal with them depends on their attitude. It is a choice tied to our thinking (Proverbs 23:7; Jeremiah 6:19; Colossians 3:2).
Developing and Doing These Principles
By now I’m sure you’ve gotten my point and that is these points will be no more than talking points, powerless to achieve the results God desires. I have no idea how you have received these principles nor how you plan, if you do at all, to use them. Regardless, for those who choose to become intentional about using these impeccable principles, I offer the following suggestions.
- Create a clear awareness and understanding relative to what the principle means to your life and personal leadership. Answer: why is this principle so powerful? How can I best develop and use it in my life and leadership? What is my first intentional step in DOING this principle?
- Make a commitment to yourself and to your team that you will develop and use these principles. The congregation needs to be made aware of your intentions, as well as those on the leadership team. This adds motivation to the commitment.
- Never, ever forget that it is PRACTICE that makes perfect and enhances the skills needed to make the best and most productive use of the principle
- Be sure you have first built a foundation with these principles before you start activating the second phase of leadership: planning, setting goals, budgeting, timelines, etc. These secondary practices will shift like the sand as you move forward. The foundation principles will not move. They are the solid foundation on which all else is built on.
- Never forget it is up to YOU to keep YOU motivated. Others may contribute through external stimuli but only you can flip the motivation switch which is inside your heart. Remember, “If it is to be, it is up to ME.”
- How do you eat an elephant? One small bite at a time. That’s how you reach and continue developing these principles. Don’t try to do them all in one giant leap. Map out the steps you will take to make each one a reality, then take baby steps. Remember, “Inch by inch its cinch, yard by yard it’s too hard.”
- Dare to do more than is required or expected. Be a “second miler.” Remember, this is what God is expecting concerning loving Him (Mark 12: ). Start strong and finish stronger. Be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding toward reaching your goal.
- Never forget, your goal is to glorify God (Ephesians 3:21).