I did my first Skype interview this week with the National Critics Choice out of Singapore. It was fun to hear questions from around the world. One of the questions asked was “What do you think the keys to successful Christian leadership are?” I came up with a few off the cuff, but I’ve thought more deeply about it since the interview. Here’s what I’ve since come up with.
1) Be Patient
When you have a vision, you want to see it fulfilled. But God rarely allows things to play out the way we think they should play out, particularly when it comes to the things He promises.
I hate this about God, but it often feels like God wants the hope of His promises to nearly die within us before He fulfills them. Why? Because of our impatience with such things. When God gives a promise, we often begin looking for ways to fulfill it on our own. We start seeking out man-made avenues of bringing the promise about, or working it out in our own way. When we exhaust all our resources, God finally shows up and does it miraculously. This way, He alone can receive glory for the fulfillment.
So the next time you hear from God, be patient, and don’t try to make everything happen all at once on your own. God has a perfect timer. He never lets the biscuits burn.
2) Fear Not
As a Christian leader, there will come a time when God asks you to do something completely illogical, at least, by man’s standards. He’ll ask you to start a new ministry without a paycheck. He’ll ask you to pray for the healing of a woman on her death bed. He’ll ask you to proclaim reconciliation over a long broken and forgotten marriage. Or any number of other things. When you hear the call, get up and go.
Others might raise an eyebrow, whisper a few negative notes of gossip, tell you how stupid you are, and turn away, but when you know it’s God, you can boldly and courageously move forward despite all odds. One very important note—you better know it’s direction from God. If you’re not sure, wait until you are.
3) Value the Journey Over the Destination
Good leaders know where they want to go, but it can be easy to value the destination over the journey. Often times we don’t care HOW we get there, we just want to GET THERE. We must remember that the journey is just as important as the destination, and at times, even more important.
Jesus said a good shepherd will leave 99 sheep to look for one lost sheep. This implies pushing the pause button on the journey. When the shepherd wanders off to find that lost one, the journey is halted, and everything is put on hold.
We must be in tune with our followers and understand their needs, their weaknesses, and their hang ups. Understanding such things will help us focus on the journey. We must intimately know the people in our pews. We must hear their opinions, and VALUE them. Then we can plan the proper route to our destination based on their needs.
Consider the Israelites in the Exodus story. They had a grand destination awaiting them after a mere two-week journey. But God had them wander in circles for 40 years before they finally arrived. Why? Because the journey was just as important, if not more important, than the destination. Don’t focus so much on the goal line that you forget how to properly run the race.
4) Focus On PEOPLE
God’s been dealing with me a lot lately about focusing more on people. I’m introverted by nature, so it’s easy for me to withdraw and isolate when I’m surrounded with opportunities to connect with others. But God wants us to be people-focused. That’s all that matters in this world.
Your lofty goals, your hopes of success, your buildings, bank accounts, and number sheets all mean nothing. In the end, all that matters will be the ways in which you affected the lives of others for good (or for bad). I’m slowly learning this lesson, and I hope every Christian leader can do the same.
In fact, if all you ever learn is #4, I think you’ll be just fine.