This is 1 of 3 articles on Leadership Skills Required : Personally, To Lead Others, and to Help Others. The other 2 will be published over the next 2 weeks.
We are not born as an outstanding leader. It requires hard work and investment in growing your skill like any other skill – singing, programming, sports, etc. Here are some skills we need to personally grow in to be an outstanding leader.
1. Know God’s Voice
Romans 8:14 (NLT) For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God.
The most precious commodity in the world is the voice of God. It is the key to everything. Without it, we are operating out of our own natural wisdom. When we hear the voice of God, we have supernatural wisdom. His voice gives us options new options. It gives us peace, hope, ideas, and directions.
In my early 30s, I knew I was going to be starting a church. I just didn’t know where. But I knew it would not be in the city of Augusta, Georgia where I was living. Eventually, God showed me to move to Dalton, Georgia, USA and start a church. Without His voice, I wouldn’t have considered this city, let alone picked it.
You get to know His voice by talking to Him. It becomes easier to hear his voice with practice.
John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Pursue Him. Spend time with Him. It is worth finding out what God is saying and then doing it. You can not go wrong when you follow God.
Our esteem is built by doing what He says not by the size of our company, bank account, family, or ministry.
You plan by principles, but you live by presence (God’s voice). The Bible is full of principles we are to follow. When we do, we are blessed. Even unbelievers can live by the principles and be blessed. But there are many situations where principles don’t give us the exact answer. There are times we need directions that principles won’t give us. This is when we need a specific word from God.
Paul gives us an example of needing to hear from God. He needed to know where to minister next. Acts 16:6-11 (NIV) 6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. 9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. 11 From Troas we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis.
Make your goal to hear His voice clearer every day. It will make bring peace and success.
2. Know the Bible
2 Timothy 2:15b (NLT) Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.
The Bible is our anchor for guidance. We need it to guide us in His ways. There is no better anchor. The Bible has been guiding people into God’s heart for thousands of years.
In our day of relativism, the Bible gives us absolutes. For instance, the Bible says God will meet your needs. So what if we get a wild idea to rob a bank? Why isn’t this valid? It is meeting our needs? Because the Bible says don’t steal.
The Bible is the foundation for all advice, teaching, sharing, counseling, and ministry. What would we base our decisions on if not the Bible? Biblical understanding and living it out is something you never compromise without consequences.
As a leader, you will have many opportunities to become offended. They will come from others, your leaders, circumstances, and even God.
It always happens. You must pass the test and not become offended. Once you become offended, no matter how right you may be, offense is hard to get over. If you don’t get over offense, it will affect your effectiveness. It will also affect your ability to hear from God. Worse case scenario is you will leave your leadership post.
There is never any reason to get offended. If you become offended, something is in you that is not right.
We can have disagreements. Offense never. When we get offended, we are in sin and out of God’s will.
Offended at God? Is that possible you may ask? When God does something or allows something we didn’t expect, we can become offended.
John 6:60-61 (NIV) 60 On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” 61 Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you?
To finish well, you must become unoffendable. Take your offense to God. Even if your offense is at others or circumstances, you are really offended at God because He allowed it. Go to him and repent and ask for His grace to forgive and keep walking in trust towards Him.
You don’t have to understand to trust God. You trust because you know He is going to do right by you.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV) 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4. Encourage Yourself
To last for the long run, you must learn to encourage yourself. Sometimes there will be no one else to encourage you. We see an example of this with David when the city of Ziklag was attacked. In that attack, their families were taken captive. It was a discouraging time. David’s own men turned against him and wanted to kill him. He had to encourage himself to keep going. What gave David direction was hearing the voice of God. In his searching, God told him to attack the enemy.
1 Samuel 30:1-8 (NKJV) 1. Now it happened, when David and his men came to Ziklag, on the third day, that the Amalekites had invaded the South and Ziklag, attacked Ziklag and burned it with fire, 2. and had taken captive the women and those who were there, from small to great; they did not kill anyone, but carried them away and went their way. 3. So David and his men came to the city, and there it was, burned with fire; and their wives, their sons, and their daughters had been taken captive. 4. Then David and the people who were with him lifted up their voices and wept, until they had no more power to weep. 5. And David’s two wives, Ahinoam the Jezreelitess, and Abigail the widow of Nabal the Carmelite, had been taken captive. 6. Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God. 7. And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. 8. And David enquired at the LORD, saying, Shall I pursue after this troop? shall I overtake them? And he answered him, Pursue: for thou shalt surely overtake them, and without fail recover all.
The ability to encourage yourself is essential. It is not an option. Sometimes everyone will disagree with you and maybe even come against you. Don’t change your beliefs just because man is not in agreement. This will violate your conscience and may cost you your ministry. Yes, we need to listen to counselors, but the final decision is between you and God.
When discouraged, get alone with God and pour out your heart and emotions. This will lead to peace and direction.
This is one of my favorite quotes, “Gifts get you in the door, but character keeps you in the room.” You will only finish well if you have gifts and character.
Character matters. Charisma and gifts will take you only so far. We can’t be all talk, our character must be solid. Having character doesn’t mean we will perfectly lead. It just means we will consistently live out the qualities and characteristics of Jesus. We need to model a way of life worthy of being followed. Character must be a measure of our success. Without godly character we cannot honor God.
Where do I start in developing character? Begin with integrity, trust, and humility.
Integrity is one of the most important ingredients of a leader. Integrity is doing what is right no matter what it costs you.
Integrity results in a solid reputation. Who are you when no one is looking? This is who you really are.
“So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find no charge or fault, because he was faithful; nor was there any error or fault found in him.” Daniel 6:4.
Integrity builds trust. Trust is a by-product of integrity. Without integrity, you will never develop trust in others. Trust comes by doing what you say repeatedly and people see that. Trust comes by when people believe that you will do what is right for them and the organization. This takes time to develop.
“Trust is the foundation of leadership.”–John Maxwell
No leader can break trust with his people and expect to keep the same level of influence with them. Trust is the foundation of leadership. Violate your people’s trust, and you’re through as a leader.
They can lose trust in you with only one thing you do. So always walk in integrity and trust will come. Here are some other pointers to gain trust : Do what you say – always. Don’t promise and then don’t deliver. Living it yourself before asking others to do what you are asking.
Humility is another character necessity. No one enjoys following an arrogant person who thinks they know everything.
Don’t promote yourself. James 4:10 (NIV) Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Humble yourself by walking in a place dependence on God. Don’t let circumstances humble you.
1 Pet. 5:6 (NIV) Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
Matt. 23:12 (NIV) For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Let God promote you. Let God open the doors of recognition. One way to humble yourself is at the end of each day give back to God your accomplishments. It keeps you focused on Him.
Matt. 18:4 (NIV) Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
One mark of humility is to be quick to admit your mistakes. Humility is realizing that sometimes we are the problem.
Leaders have learned to last. When you live for God the devil does not like you. Adversity and suffering always come. Adversity can include negative circumstances, people who come against you, financial hardships, etc. Learn to outlast adversity.
Heb. 10:35-39 (NIV) “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. For in just a very little while, “He who is coming will come and will not delay. But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.” But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.”
A good leader who finishes well learns how to keep moving in adversity. They refuse to give up. They realize there will be opposition. They don’t run over people, but they also don’t stop at the first sign of opposition. They don’t allow setbacks to decide their future.
Gal. 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Results of our work can take a long time to be seen. There is a due season for everything. Believe God and don’t give up. You will be rewarded.
Heb. 6:9-15 (NIV), “…And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.”
Don’t Fear Failure, Learn From It.
All of us have failed in at least minor ways in our lives. You might have even made major mistakes. All successful people have made mistakes. But God can redeem your mistakes. He can use them as platforms and learning lessons for your victories in the future.
Rom. 5:2, “…and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”
Betty Price, President, The Price Group: “We all deal with rejection; some more dramatically than others. The important thing is to learn not to take it personally. The world is full of negative thinkers, eager to tell you what and why you can’t accomplish. You have the choice of holding on to your dreams or succumbing to their negative thinking. Let go of past failures and rejections and focus on positive experiences and influences. It will amaze you at how much more you’ll accomplish.”
Failing is Not Abnormal
Prov. 24:16 (NIV) for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.
It’s not failing that is abnormal, it’s not getting up when you have fallen that is abnormal.
To be successful, you have to become good at relating to others. This is a vast subject. I would recommend getting one of the many resources available on how to listen to others, communicate well, and work with others. It is a skill that takes time but is absolutely necessary.
You can never build anything of value without a team and connections. Make your priority not just projects, but developing relationships. Relationships are key to long-term success. Relationships move the kingdom forward.
Early in my ministry, I thought how many things I got done defined success. But success is investing in friendships, relationships, and connections.
Only 2 things last forever – people and the Word of God. Your future depends on the relationships you make. Seek partnerships and friends.
One thing that is critical to not do as a leader is to gossip. It will always cause problems. Say nothing to someone who is not part of the problem or the solution. When you have to speak, realize whatever you say will be broadcast to many people.
Many leaders draw away from people because they have been betrayed and rejected. It is true, people will reject and even betray you. This is not good, but it is going to happen. The answer is not to trust again. You may keep from being rejected, but you will also stop your forward progress. Learn to trust again. This is a big topic that can’t be covered here. But don’t grow bitter. If you don’t stop trying, you will find loyal friends.
Be a lifelong learner. Learn how to learn. This can come through school and classes. But most of the time your learning will be you teaching yourself by listening to messages, podcasts, reading books, asking others, etc.
It is important you grow. If you stop growing, then your followers will stop growing too or will leave to find someone who is.
If you stop learning, you will stagnate, especially in your christian walk. You don’t become mature by just the passage of time. You mature by being willing to learn. Maturity is being humble enough to be teachable. It is the result of pursuing God and learning from Him.
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (2 Peter 3:18 NIV1984)
It would be very difficult to lead a congregation of Christians to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ,” if the pastor is not doing this himself.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV1984)
Remember, outstanding leaders have not always been outstanding leaders.
Be Willing to Learn About Yourself
Let the wise listen and add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance. Proverbs 1:5
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline. Proverbs 1:7
Be an observer of yourself. Pay attention to what you need to improve on.
How do you become a person who learns? Be a person who listens! Those of you who are just starting out in ministry, listen to more experienced people. Do not rely only on your friends, especially if they are less skilled than you. Rather, seek other people with whom you can talk and with whom you can form a mentorship. This involves ongoing conversations about life, ministry, trials and troubles.
So, no matter if you are 15 or 115, commit yourself to listen to others, and take the time to observe your own behaviors. You can do this by finding a good mature mentor with whom you can talk and from whom you can learn. Make the commitment to grow NOW. The classic disciplines of the Christian faith are your keys too, as well as devotions, getting into the Bible, Bible study, good Christian fellowship, and being in a quality church where you can worship, and where God’s Word is proclaimed with power, conviction, clarity, and truth.
Growth is not automatic. Make a plan and do it. Don’t rely on others to push you.
Gerald McGinnis, President/CEO, Respironics, Inc.: “Value your listening and reading time at roughly ten times your talking time. This will assure you that you are on a course of continuous learning and self-improvement. Whenever you encounter conventional wisdom, question it. The most powerful word in your vocabulary is ‘why’. This will identify the opportunities for you.”
9. Time Management
Value your time! Your time makes things happen. Are you spending it in moving towards your goals?
Another fun exercise is to put money on your time. If you make $30/hour and spend 2 hours on YouTube was it worth $60. Add up your hours on Netflix or TV streaming. Say you watch 10 hours a week, was that worth $300 a week or $1200/month or $14,000/year?
Learn to say no to many of the opportunities that come your way. We live in a world of infinite opportunities. We have to discern what is worthy of our time.
Watch out for other people who want to control your agenda. Saying no to a friend, co-worker, or a family member is hard.
Remember, how you use your time determines where you will end up.
Learn to laugh and laugh often. Laugh at your crazy circumstances, the mistakes you make, etc. Humor reduces so many tensions and focuses you and others on what is actually important.
Learning to laugh at yourself is important. It reduces the pressure to be perfect! Seeing the humor in everything and you will find your mental wellbeing and outlook on life improved.
Think about this, will what is happening be important in 1 year? Maybe it does, but often it will show you that “this too shall pass”.