Before the next section, below is a short personal aside:
As I’m working on writing this series of posts on leadership, it is proving to be a really great learning experience. Although it seems incredibly pretentious to write about this topic, especially when I have such little experience, I decided that it is beneficial to share what is going on in my head and heart. Hopefully it will be an encouragement to you to think through your own leadership, and not merely another didactic lesson on leadership principles.
As I have been looking at myself and my leadership, I have a few different contexts in which I am currently leading:
I’m not sure that this actually counts as “leadership”, but it is generally good practice to think on leading yourself first. If I am not putting into practice what I am teaching and imparting to others, I may have succeeded in leading them, but I have failed myself.
This means that I am personally living and applying what I am calling people to. If I desire the people I am leading to live like missionaries, then I better be implementing those principles into my own life. If I am leading ministries toward a strategic end, I had better be towing my own weight in the execution of that plan. I think there is a great risk as you grow in leadership to becoming something of an “arm chair quarterback”, or a person who just calls the shots but isn’t intimately invested in the game.
Self-leadership is the process of developing character that runs deep, and manifests itself in other areas of leadership.
God has blessed me with a great family, and as a husband and dad I am called to lead our family towards Christ. I find that this context is the best indicator of my self-leadership, and the truest position of my heart in leadership. It turns out that it was pretty important to Paul in assessing a leader as well, so much so, that effectively leading your family is a qualification for eldership.
Your family sees you without any filter at most points, and know you more intimately than anyone you are around, so it’s the first place to see what you are really made of as a leader. For those of you without families, I’d suggest looking at how you’re doing in leading the people you live with.
Family is the mirror for the character you are developing in self-leadership.
I have the opportunity to serve in leadership in a variety of ways within our church on an organizational and pastoral level. These tend to be the skills I hone in on and spend a lot of time developing, because I spend so much time in this context, and my livelihood depends on it. It is also a place I enjoy a lot, because it involves organizational skill, technical execution, and personal investment and development, on a variety of different time-scales and different ways.
I’ve noticed in myself how easy it is to abandon developing in the first and second contexts in favor of this one. I think the reason is that we often get the most recognition for success if we are effective in this area. It’s dangerously easy to be successful in this kind of leadership while ignoring the first two, but the natural consequence is cultivating an identity in something other than Christ and the character He hones in us. Recognition of success and the fear of failure can drive me a long way…
As I have been reflecting, there is a great deal of commonality between each area, but also different skills required for doing each. My two year old son doesn’t respond the same way to the skills I use to lead a college student. Although the character needed is often the same, the tools that I use are fundamentally different. I’ll look at some context specific skills in the next post.