What is leadership? We all have a word image that pops into our minds when we hear that word. Maybe it’s someone you’ve admired from a distance that, when you think of a leader, you think of them. Maybe that someone who comes to your mind is a mentor you had in the ministry. Someone who led you or maybe gave you your first position in ministry.
Maybe leadership means something different to you. If you have an athletic background, leadership may mean more passion than anything to you. If you spent time in the military, maybe it’s discipline and hard work that makes a leader in your eyes. Whatever your definition or idea of leadership is, they all include certain characteristics and attributes.
Here are 4 things good leadership entails…
Let’s face it, without people, there’s nothing to lead. Without your congregation, there’s no one to lead. Without your family, there’s no one to lead. Without people, we’re just walking in a direction by ourselves. Somewhere along the way, though, it’s really easy to forget about the people – especially when it comes to leading in ministry. Isn’t that funny? The very reason we began this journey can eventually become more of a nuisance than anything. Remind yourself daily that the people matter. That God cares about the people. The difficult people, the smart people, the fun people, the church people are all loved by God and in need of leading. Remind yourself of the people by looking to your Leader.
Good leaders know their priorities. What are yours? I know the typical response and what it’s supposed to be, but really… what are your priorities? Try this: write down the three things that have dominated your thinking today and the three things that have dominated your time. That’s a good indicator of your priorities. If you don’t like the answers, now is the time to put some new things in place. Now is the time to say “No” to some good things so you can say “Yes” to the right things. Good leaders have a way of knowing and sticking to their priorities.
We don’t talk about it a lot in leadership circles, but do you know what a leader has to do at the end of the day? Get stuff done. How productive are you? Do you get done what you say you’re gonna get done? I’m not talking about being held captive by your calendar, I’m talking about getting done what needs to be done. At home, at the church, wherever you are, do you get stuff done? There are countless ways to be sure you are being productive. You can make a to-do list, find a good to-do list app, or just maintain a good calendar. At the end of the day, though, we have to get that sermon written, visit those people, return those emails, and make an impact.
Leaders ultimately move people and their organizations in a direction. If you aren’t seeing progress in the people you lead or the church you’re leading, you aren’t really leading them at all. Leadership requires that movement takes place. Now, don’t get me wrong, it won’t happen all of the time and there may be times you even move backward, but ultimately, progress is a must. Progress will look different at different points in your ministry, but it’ll always involve reaching people for the Gospel.
Leading is a great calling. It’s a gift that few have and even fewer really live out.
Jonathan Pearson is the Connections Pastor at SpringWell Church in Taylors, S.C. Jonathan is the co-host of the Next Up Podcast and author of Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make (June 2014) and the upcoming book Be the Switch. He is married to Melissa and has a son named Riley. They live in Greenville, S.C. Find Jonathan online at JonathanPearson.net.