Leaders in the Church – Part One

One of the motivational gifts listed in Romans 12:6-8 is the gift of leadership.

“Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

Leadership by simple definition is influence. And, everyone influences someone. Parents influence their children. Teachers influence their students. Small group leaders influence their members. Church leaders influence their people. Leadership is your ability to lift and lead other people. In many ways, everyone is a leader.

Your leadership ability and potential is not something that is inherent. It is not a given that is built into your character and thus unchangeable. You can grow in your understand of leadership as well as improve your skills and abilities as a leader and thus become a better leader. Your leadership potential is something that can grow and change. Here are some ideas that I work with as a leader as I work to increase my level of influence and thus impact in life and ministry.

1> Ask questions and listen to understand and find your people.

Communication is the language of leadership. Most leaders hold to the illusion that as long as they are talking and giving direction and input, communication is happening. Leaders usually focus on vision and on what they are wanting to accomplish in their leadership. So, their focus is often themselves and what they want. A true leader focuses on others and want to know their people and want their people to know them. Only then can true communication happen.

Questions open up doors and allow us to connect with others. They place value on the other person. And they give us a different perspective. Before we attempt to set things right as leaders, we need to see things right. The highest compliment you can give people is to ask them their opinion. And then to truly listen from your heart.

Asking for a person’s thoughts and opinions does not do much if you don’t really listen. Questions start the conversation, but listening encourages it to continue. Listening shows that I want to understand someone before I try to be understood by them. Questions + Listening = Quality Conversation. Quality Conversation = Quality Leadership.

2> Connect with people before asking them to change.

By its nature, leadership is about creating change. As a leader, you are inviting people to change their focus, change their energy, change their skills, and sometimes even change their direction in life for the sake of the team and the accomplishing of the vision. How do you get people to trust you for so many changes? Trust needs to be built on good relationships, and good relationships start with good connections. 

If you are a task-oriented person, connecting may be something you have to work at to achieve. If you’re a people person, building the relationships may come naturally. But making the transition from relationship building to movement requires what I call a leadershift. That “shift” is the transition from connecting with people to helping them make the changes necessary for the benefit of the team.

One of the keys to helping team members make successful changes is to set expectations for them up front. It increases the odds of positive change later in the relationship. There are six steps that should be followed to set positive expectations. These will help you to connect with people and then invite them to follow you as the leader and enter the process of changing. 

A> Let them know you value them

The greatest gift leaders give team members is their belief in them, letting them know that they are valued. If I as your leader don’t value you, I will try to manipulate you for my advantage instead of investing in you for your advantage.

So in setting expectations for people, I clearly communicate how much I value them as individual people, not just as team members. And that means I care enough for them to confront them. I value them too much to allow them to remain the same. Once they know that my expectations for them are birthed out of how much I value them. The environment has been set for the next step. 

More next time…