“Leadership” and “leader” are buzz words in the church world. There’s a lot of conversation within Christian contexts and outside of the Christian realm about what it means to be a leader, how to lead better, and how to climb the ladder in an organization. Some of that conversation is justified. After all, without good leaders, we wouldn’t have our faith, our Church, or any of the luxuries most of us enjoy (thanks Steve Jobs!). However, without some basic principles of life and leadership, none of the rest of the talk really matters.
We see leadership in characters throughout the Bible. It was and is how God works. He calls ordinary people, gives them some talents, and allows them to lead His people. While that still baffles me that he allows me (and you) to do His work, I do believe we can look at God Himself and the people that He’s called to lead over history and see some great essentials for leading.
This is certainly not an exhaustive list. Things like humility, patience, and love aren’t on my list of essentials. I’ll leave those as understood and let someone else write on them. However, I think many of us leaders overlook 3 basic leadership qualities. Many of us possess these things because of our calling and our faith, but we can’t forget to sharpen them and keep them growing.
Here are the 3…
Passion is the fuel in our leadership.Without a passion for the people we lead and a passion for the mission we serve, we’re not going to be very good leaders. It may seem easy to under-estimate passion in leadership and take it for granted. The problem? The second you take it for granted, it’ll start to fade. Passion is like a fire. We have to stoke it, keep throwing wood on it, and keep it during… intentionally.
This one is going to seem like the odd one in the list, but it’s true. As leaders, we have to be people that work consistently toward a goal. A whim here and a whim there without every fully completing anything does nothing but deplete resources and the energy of the people we lead. We have to know the vision and work consistently to achieve it. I’m not saying that you can’t be spontaneous with things, but you have to let people know that you’re willing to put the work in… day in and day out.
Leadership without caring about the people is just manipulation really. Empathy is an important one for any leader. If you’re someone who isn’t an emotional person, this one is going to probably come less naturally to you. You have to do it anyway. Whether you’re leading a business, non-profit, or a church, empathy is important. The people you serve with and lead have to know that you care. Those aren’t just things to get done what you want to get done, they’re people and they’re your real work. Be able to love them, talk with them, and empathize with them.
Jonathan Pearson is a millennial determined to leave the world in better shape than he found it. He is the Orangeburg Campus Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church and Assistant Director of The Sticks Network. He is the co-creator of MillennialLeader.com, an online community for young leaders and author of Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make. Check out his blog at JonathanPearson.net and connect with him on Twitter.