Leadership development is an essential ingredient in effective businesses, organizations and ministries. When a company falters, often it can be marked up to an issue within the leadership. Churches are no different. While pastors often point the finger at the congregation, there is at least a 5050 chance the issue is in the leadership.
Leadership is the action of leading a group of people or organization. Leadership exists at all levels. Parents serve as the leaders of their families. Teachers lead their classrooms. A governor leads a state. In the local church, the pastor is the leader.
Aubrey Malphurs is nationally recognized as an expert on leadership issues. His organization, the Malphurs Group, trains and consults with various organizations in the area of leadership. In his book “Being a Leader,” Malphurs defines a Christian leader this way: “A Christian leader is a servant with the credibility and capabilities to influence people in a particular context to pursue their God-given direction.” Two components stand out.
Credibility Is Key
A key to leadership development is credibility. In their classic book “The Leadership Challenge,” James Kouzes and Barry Posner develop two “laws of leadership.” The first is “If you don’t believe in the messenger, you won’t believe the message.”
When it comes down to it, people long for a credible leader. Just look at the state of our government as a prime example. If you believe in your leader, you believe in what they stand for. The question becomes, how can I improve my credibility?
The answer to that question is much easier than you think. Kouzes and Posner’s research suggests that people first listen to the words, then they watch the actions. So, make sure you do what you say you’re going to do. That’s true in your family, in your business and in your church. Your credibility is essential.
Lead by Serving
The other key to leadership development is to lead by serving. If you’re serious about developing your leadership, then become a servant. If you want the people in your organization or family to take out the trash, then you take out the trash. Be willing to do what you ask others to do. Dad, don’t ask your children to put their clothes away if you don’t. Coach, don’t ask your parents to be on time if you’re not going to be on time. Pastor, don’t ask your people to obey the Ten Commandments if you don’t.
If you walk around the campus of Carolina College of Biblical Studies, you’ll see that our president is a servant. At any point in the day, you might see him carrying a bag of garbage to the dumpster. Sure, he could ask any one of the faculty members or students or simply wait for the cleaning crew to do it. But that’s not him. He is a servant. The result? Now you see students who notice the trash can overflowing ... they grab it up and take it to the dumpster. Why? They’ve learned to become a servant by watching their leader serve.
Servant leadership is a calling to be like Jesus. Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be servant of all” (Mark 10:43). If you want to develop your leadership potential, start with learning to serve others with credibility that speaks louder than words.