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Christian, fulfill your leadership destiny!

"What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen,
is the very thing God prepared for those who love him." [1Co 2:9 GNB]

Demonstrate Christian leadership and grab hold of your future!

"I alone know the plans I have for you, plans to bring you prosperity and not disaster, plans to bring about the future you hope for." [Jer 29:11 GNB]

Become the Christian leader you are meant to be!

Christian leadership is more than a mere position or appointment.

Do you really know or understand what Christian leadership is all about? Few people do. There is much confusion regarding leadership and management. This is because managers are often, but not always, also required to lead and leaders are often, but not always, also required to manage.

Because of this overlap between Christian leadership and management, people are coming up with a wide variety of definitions for Christian leadership, most of which would not pass the test.

If I would ask you now to define the difference between
Christian leadership and management, what would your answer be?

Just to say that "a leader leads and a manager manages", is not an answer,
because you cannot define a word with itself.

Most attempts at an answer can probably be answered with:
"a manager also does that" or "a leader also does that."

I have heard it said that 'Leadership is about people',
whereas 'Management is about process.'

This is not good enough. Managers certainly also work with people!

Christian leaders lead people. Managers manage resources. Of this, the human resource (people) is the most important. People can therefore not be made the differentiating factor between leaders and managers.

What then is the difference between Christian leadership and management?

The best comparison will be that of sheep herders in the Western world versus those in the Eastern world. The bible analogies of shepherds depict the shepherd walking in front and the sheep following. This is Christian leadership.

In the Western world the shepherd would keep the sheep together and drive them towards their destination. This is management.

Christian leadership is all about vision.

Christian leadership starts at conception, not birth. A Christian leader, by definition, is someone that leads. You cannot lead if
you don't know where you are going.

Christian leadership comes to play when you are the first to:

  • see a need,

  • have a vision for addressing the need,

  • make the decision to do something about it;

  • and finally, act upon it.

 For example, if a you notice an empty soda can littering the floor that needs to be picked up,
have a desire for a clean environment, decide to pick it up and throw it away  and follow through on your decision by actually doing it, then you are a Christian leader by being the first to do it.

Christian leadership is possible even without having followers. Being the first to do something does not necessarily imply that there will be a second or a third. Nevertheless, it still makes you a leader.
 Having followers does not make you a leader, it only defines a type of leadership.

"When God calls you, don't look over your back to see who are following!"

As a Christian leader you should understand that there is no clear cut differentiation
between the elements of leadership and management. Rather, it forms a continuum.

The following summary however, could serve as a guide
to help you differentiate between the two processes.

Christian leadership is about activating vision.
Management is about process.

If you have a vision, but you don't act upon it, you are merely a dreamer!

Both leadership and management are about people.

Yes, Christian leadership is about leading people. The church is in dire need of leaders, but what the church needs more than just people caring about people, is Christian leaders that can receive a vision from God and bring it to fulfillment. What I am saying with my soda can example, is that Christian leadership is all about your leading, not about your followers.

Christian leadership starts with the conception of the vision, but only gets recognized with the birth (the activation) of it.

Looking at the following biblical leaders,
we can learn more about leadership.

Moses - acknowledged as one of the greatest leaders of all time.

When did he become a leader?

Was it the day a million slaves followed him into the desert?
Or was it the moment he confronted Pharaoh for the first
time with the vision that his people should be free?

I say it was the day he confronted Pharao. As a matter of fact, I might go back
even further and say it was the day God confronted him at the burning bush.

Remember, Christian leadership starts at conception, not birth!

Jesus - certainly the greatest leader of all time.

 If His followers were to be the measure of His leadership on earth, He was the
utmost failure. His ‘followers' did not follow Him, they followed their stomachs!

"Jesus answered, "I am telling you the truth: you are looking for me because you ate the bread and had all you wanted, not because you understood my miracles." [John 6:26 GNB].

Surely, Christian leadership cannot be defined by using followers as a measuring standard.

He is the divine example of Christian leadership, yet even
those closest to Him were following their own dreams.

"He was teaching his disciples: "The Son of Man will be handed over to those who will kill him. Three days later, however, he will rise to life." But they did not understand what this teaching meant, and they were afraid to ask him. They came to Capernaum, and after going indoors Jesus asked his disciples, "What were you arguing about on the road?" But they would not answer him, because on the road they had been arguing among themselves about who was the greatest." [Mark 9:31-34 GNB]

Only at Pentecost did the disciples start to follow where Jesus was leading them.
They finally started demonstrating Christian leadership of their own.

Was this when the leadership of Jesus started?
I'd say no. His leadership started the moment He left heaven with the vision of giving
His own life for our sins. Christian leadership starts at conception, not birth!

Abraham - the father (leader) of our faith.

He followed God from Haran and his only follower was his nephew Lot.
If Lot was Abram's measure of leadership, he certainly was a failure!

Abraham, as father of our faith, gives us the very first example of Christian leadership.
He received vision from God and acted on it by believing God.

"And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness." [Genesis 15:5-6 GNB]

If followers were the measure for Christian leadership, Abraham
would have been a failure. Even his wife was not his follower.

She laughed at the idea of having children. "So Sarah laughed to herself and said, "Now that I am old and worn out, can I still enjoy sex? And besides, my husband is old too." [Genesis 18:12]

Yet Abraham is the leader of everyone today that gets saved by faith.

"You should realize, then, that the real descendants of Abraham are the people who have faith."
[Galatians 3:7] 

Abraham had no followers in his lifetime regarding his vision, and no relationship with
the followers he has today, those who like him, received righteousness through faith. Yet, he is
the father of faith, and as such, still one of the greatest examples of Christian leadership.

Moses, Jesus, Abraham . . . were all great leaders.

Yes, they al ended up having followers. But even if they did not, it would not have diminished their leadership. God would have commended each one on his leadership, for they received His vision and acted on it. It is not always the best leaders that have the most or the best followers. Some of the best leaders today are still not being recognized. Christian leadership is not about recognition, it is about action!

The principles of good Christian leadership

Christian leadership should manifest deep personal conviction. Leaders are watched very closely. They are role models. Subordinates are quick to perceive when leaders are saying one thing, but living another. Unless leaders live according to a deep personal conviction, they will be inconsistent and can be manipulated.

Christian leadership should maintain rigorous personal schedules. Leaders lead by personal example. To be effective in a highly competitive market, the leader will have to be a model of discipline and diligence. To maintain his edge on the workers, his own performance must exceed those of his workmen. He must set the standard against which his subordinates will measure themselves.

Christian leadership should place all their lives in subordination to their goals. Leaders have to embrace a sense of mission. To be a leader is to have followers. If you are not going towards a goal, you are leading your subordinates towards nothing. It is the very fact that you have a goal that makes you a leader. True leaders see nothing but their goal. They will risk everything to reach it. To deviate is to fail as a leader.

Christian leadership should be willing to make hard-nosed decisions. It is impossible to please everyone. Conflicts of interests will always occur. Leaders have to measure all their decisions against the ultimate achievement of their objectives and, considering all factors, will have to decide accordingly.

Christian leadership should learn to live with tension. Because of the constant conflict between workers’ interests and the pressure to perform, leaders live with tension. It can not be avoided. It is essential that leaders keep on making sound decisions at all times. The ability to cope with tension is what separates the mediocre from the superior leaders.

Qualities of good Christian leadership

Sense of mission. This is a belief in your own ability to lead, a love for the work itself and a devotion to the people and the organization you serve. Self-denial It means a willingness to forgo self-indulgences and the ability to bear the headaches the job entails.

High Character. You must be honest with yourself and others, face hard facts and unpleasant situations with courage, be sincere and dependable and never fear criticism or your own mistakes. Job competence This is still one of the best foundations for good leadership. Even though leaders should not waste time on doing technical work themselves.

Good judgment.  Common sense (the ability to separate the important from the unimportant), tact, and wisdom to see and plan ahead makes for the best leaders.

Energy. Leaders at all levels are required to work long hours and accordingly have little time for relaxation. Good health, good nerves and boundless energy makes this possible.

Styles of Christian leadership

Autocratic or Directive Leadership. Many people consider this style as old-fashioned, but it often worked well. The leader makes the decisions and demands obedience from the people supervised. It is well suited for situations where time is of an essence. However, it places a stringent demand on the leader’s ability to be right. He cannot afford mistakes.

Democratic or Consultative Leadership. Also called consensus management. This is still a popular approach. The leader consults with and draws ideas from the people supervised before making decisions. It can, unfortunately, lead to less than optimum compromises.

Free-rein or Participative Leadership. Also known as Liasses-Faire Leadership from the man who introduced it. This style is the most difficult of the different styles. The leader acts as information centre and exercises minimum control, depending on the employee’s sense of responsibility and good judgment to get things done. Some also call it integrative leadership or in a negative sense it can be called ‘come what may’ leadership. Only mature individuals respond to it well and there is a real risk of losing control.

Results-centered leadership. This style functions by making the achievement of goals in itself the motivation of the workers. Work is tailored to provide the greatest motivation for the workers.

Contingency or Situational Leadership. The leader is required to balance the following factors:

  • The extent of rapport or good feelings between the leader and the followers.

  • The nature of the job to be done in terms of specifications and procedures.

  • The amount of real power invested in the leader

Theocratic leadership. This is the only true and acceptable Christian leadership style. God is in charge and the Christian leaders obey His directives. God provides the vision, the strategy and the resources.

Christian leader. Now it is your turn!

Before you ask "Am I doing the job right?" You must first ask "Am I doing the right job?"
Ask yourself. "Am I doing what I should be doing?"

When you reach the top rung of the ladder and look around, you don't
want to realize that your ladder was leaning against the wrong wall!

What you are doing right now. . .
Is it a good idea or is it God's idea?

You have a job that you should be doing. Are you doing it,
or are you maybe doing something you shouldn't?

Christian leaders, while you are thinking,
also ponder the following:

"If you don't climb the mountain, you can't see the view."

"No-one ever climbed a hill by just looking at it."

"If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time."

"Ideas are funny things - they don't work unless you do."

"Our ship would come much sooner if we'd only swim out to meet it."

"Fear of criticism is the kiss of death in the courtship of achievement."

"You can never get much of anything done
unless you go ahead and do it before you are ready!"

The following prayer was first prayed by General Douglas McArthur for his son.
The words are adapted so that you can
pray it for yourself.

"Build me, Oh Lord, to be strong enough to know when I am weak, and brave enough to face myself when I am afraid; let me be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

"Build me to be a person whose wishes will not take the places of deeds; let me know Thee . . . and help me realize that to know myself is the foundation stone of knowledge."

"Build me to be a person whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high, a person who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past."

"And after all these things are mine, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that I may always be serious, yet never take myself too seriously."

"Give me humility so that I may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom and the meekness of true strength. Then I, will dare to whisper, I have not lived in vain."

Amen

If you desire to display Christian leadership in the true sense of the word,
take this opportunity now and pray this prayer for yourself.

 

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