First of all, let me say that I am thrilled that I get to share my thoughts on leadership. This has been my passion for many years, as I led teams at UPS in the United States and abroad. I’ve read many books and papers and attended many training events and seminars, all on the topic of leadership. One thing that I believe many have neglected over the years is how difficult leadership can be. It’s not that hard to be designated as the leader – sometimes common grace can put us in a position of leadership. But actually leading. Wow! That can be really challenging!
To be clear, the type of leadership I am describing is servant leadership.
If you search for key traits of a servant leader you will find concepts such as listening, empathy, stewardship, foresight, persuasion, conceptualization, awareness, healing, commitment to the growth and development of people, and building community. As Christian leaders, we are all faced with the challenge of living into these traits. While it is difficult to practice all of these consistently and to an excellent standard, it is vital to the mission with which He has tasked us.
Think about this from your perspective for a few minutes. Consider what it would look like for you as a Christian leader to exhibit these traits consistently in your place of service, whether that is leading a church or ministry, living out your faith in a secular workplace, or serving your family as a stay-at-home parent? Imagine what your relationships would feel like if you were able to consistently demonstrate strong listening skills, responding with empathy, modeling stewardship, casting a God-honoring vision, persuading those you influence to share in that vision, helping them see how they can contribute to seeing that vision fulfilled, being aware of how people around you are experiencing you, building up those around you, all while building a strong sense of community!
Jesus modeled this example for us in Scripture. He listened to people even though he already knew what they were thinking and even when they were unable to speak. He empathized with people, even when they were forgotten or unseen members of society. He modeled stewardship by acknowledging God’s sovereign authority and ownership if all, and desiring God’s will. He displayed foresight in His ministry leading up to the transfiguration in Mark 9. He persuaded the disciples to join Him. He conceptualized God’s vision for them, developed them, and inspired them to lead with the Holy Spirit. He was keenly aware of the needs of those around Him and responded to those needs with what was most helpful – whether that was healing or challenge or rebuke. He did all these things while building a sense of community. Only through His grace can we live into this concept of servant leadership.
It’s important to remember that we are not Jesus. While He was able to consistently model this sort of behavior in an excellent manner, most likely we will find that we come up short by comparison. We may struggle with some or even all of these traits. If you are wrestling with this sort of issue, we are here to help.
As I write this, I am thinking of the many Christian leaders who may be reading. I am praying for you. I pray that you will remain strong and courageous, that you will persevere, and that you will demonstrate servant leadership as modeled by Jesus, to the best of your ability. I am grateful for you, and I am grateful for CrossPoint Ministry.
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)