Learn to Lead
Learn to Lead helps you develop your character. It improves your leadership knowledge and skills.
The words servant and leadership, back-to-back, seem as contradictory as an emaciated overweight person. We do not understand. Jesus is both a servant and a leader. Leaders have authority (Hebrews 13:17), and Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).
Nevertheless, He used His authority to serve -- “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 NLT). He is the good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep (John 10:11). A shepherd leads and serves the flock.
Jesus led with self-sacrificing love and did not use His power and authority like a whip. He willingly sacrificed Himself for those who rejected and ultimately crucified Him.
In so doing, He led many of them to glory, for not a few of those who opposed Him later repented, believed in, and willingly followed Him. He challenged His followers to imitate His example, saying, “The greatest among you will be your servant” (Matthew 23:11), and "If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35).
What does servant leadership in the church look like? Read 1 Peter 5:1-3.
1. To whom does Peter address his directions (v. 1)? _________________
2. Leaders relate to those being led as s_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ (v. 2). The motivation for this role is love for _ _ _ _ _ (John 21:15-17)
3. Who owns the flock we oversee (v. 2)? Why is that significant?
4. What are God-honoring motivations for leadership (v. 2, 3)?
5. What motivations are condemned (v. 2, 3)?
6. How does lording it over the flock differ from being an example to it?
7. How would you rate your willingness and eagerness to serve as a leader (1-10 scale, one being low)? What undermines your willingness? Your decreases your eagerness? How does your answer to the second part of question 2 help you keep your priorities in order?
8. How much “lording it over others” do you demonstrate? If this is a problem, what is one practical step you can take to become more of a servant leader?
9. Do you think it is easier to turn those already serving the church into leaders or transform people our culture recognizes as leaders into servants? Why?
10. How does your church identify and equip the servant leaders God has prepared to serve it?
Dr. Howard Hendricks lists the characteristics of a leader in a Personal Leadership Development video produced by Walk Thru the Bible:
Leaders are persistent-- they do not give up when problems, like ejected truck-tire retreads, litter the road to their goals. They have built-in over, under, around, and through four-wheel-drive desire.
Leaders endure criticism and do not let it paralyze them. They extract any grain of truth in the criticism, make necessary course or attitude corrections, throw away the criticism’s chaff, and keep their eyes unblinkingly on their objective.
Leaders serve. Outstanding leaders are not those with tremendous followings. Their salaries and benefits do not tell the story. They are those who unselfishly meet people's needs.
The best leaders are sensitive to others' needs. And to their desires. Rehoboam made a foolish decision. The Israelites pledged their loyalty if he would lighten their load.
He said, “Yes, my father laid heavy burdens on you, but I’m going to make them even heavier! My father beat you with whips, but I will beat you with scorpions!’” (1 Kings 12:11 NLT).
That was insensitive. The Holy Spirit was not behind it.
Spiritual leaders set a good example in speech, life, love, faith, and purity (1 Timothy 4:12).
Leaders model self-control and discipline. Self-control results from the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23) and self-discipline and applies to all life.
Leaders sharpen their leadership edge. They are never satisfied with themselves but continue to develop physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially.
Leaders trust that Jesus Christ is enough (Philippians 4:13). They say, “Follow me. I know the way.”
Leaders are teachable. Unlike concrete (mixed up and set), they are receptive to new ideas and input.
Leaders have a half-full glass. They have a positive outlook. That enhances their effectiveness. They have a sense of humor and do not take themselves too seriously.
Leaders take risks and trust God to do what only He can.
1. Which characteristic do you need to work on first?
2. Develop a simple strategy to improve and share it with someone else.
The scene is a church council meeting. It is the day officers are elected. Mr. Jones has chaired for more than five years.
He says, “You all know I don’t want to be president of the council. I have served because no one else will. I would be happy to surrender my position this year.” The annual visitation of lockjaw strikes.
Each council member fears. Even clearing a throat will be considered volunteering. Everyone stares at the floor. No one breathes until the predictable happens.
Yet again, Mr. Jones will preside by default. Does that scenario sound at all familiar? What’s wrong with this picture?
Good leaders possess the right attitudes and abilities. They attract others.
Good leaders want to lead. No one forced Michael Jordon to take the last shot in the closing seconds of a Chicago Bulls basketball game, and he wanted it. Ronald Reagan wanted to run for President.
Many churches have a leadership crisis. No one, including the pastor, wants to lead. Some churches have a different problem. Leaders are motivated more by the desire to dominate than to serve.
In contrast, God’s word says, “Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example” (1 Peter 5:2-3 NLT). What leadership attitudes please the Lord?
Good leaders have a variety of functional abilities. Like typing, these skills can be learned; we will examine many of them in future lessons.
God gives the ability to lead. He provides selected members of each church with the spiritual gift of leadership (Romans 12:8). That does not make practical leadership training unnecessary.
Weightlifting strengthens muscles. Leadership training strengthens the gift God has given.
Fruitful ministry results from God-given gifts. Plus, God-given desires. Plus, comfort zone-stretching faith. Plus, ministry training. Plus, all-out effort.
Which one of these is your strength? Weakness? What steps can you take to strengthen your weakest area?
Leaders possess ATTRACTIVENESS. They come in many shapes, colors, and sizes; most could never win a beauty contest. Their attractiveness is of a different sort. Leaders promise both in a world where many church members lack direction and a sense of significance.
They know where they are going (goal-oriented) and can influence others to take the trip. They excel at relational skills. These skills, like leadership abilities, can be learned.
Other lessons help you develop your people skills. Is a leader someone who gets things done or someone who gets things done through people? Which best describes you? Why?
Abiding in Christ
I had a home computer that was plugged into a 110-volt outlet. Periodically, the on-off switch malfunctioned, causing the computer to keep running even though I repeatedly turned it off. Was the problem an alien or a demon, or did I pull the plug? Yanking the plug worked!
That is how computers are unlike us. Sometimes as leaders, we are unplugged from Christ, but we keep chugging along anyway! We lead without booting up spiritually and quickly download our spiritual nourishment. We “wolf down” Our Daily Bread and return to the “real world” before the commercials end.
We are like laptop computers that draw down their batteries without relying on an external power source.
Temporarily, our energy seems to sustain us. We are not closely connected to Jesus; worse, we do not even notice.
Inevitably our motivation and energy flag. We burn out in leadership. We have nothing substantial to contribute to the kingdom's work.
If we spent more time in Bible study and prayer, nurturing the “believing connection” with Jesus, our remaining hours would be far more productive. Our spiritual health and that of the congregation depend on it.
As the life of the vine is evident in the branches and the grapes they bear, the life of Jesus becomes “flesh” in His followers' words, attitudes, and actions. We continue to do and teach what He started (Acts 1:1). A rope symbolizes our abiding relationship with Christ. He is out of sight above the clouds, holding one end, and we, with a white-knuckled-grasp dangle below the clouds, suspended over a 3,000-foot chasm.
Who needs the rope? We all do. Rocks fall and bruise our arms and head, but we would be foolish to let go. Abiding means holding onto and believing in Jesus’ character and promises as a way of life, even though people think we are crazy and circumstances sometimes suggest the One at the top end does not care.
One popular song addresses Jesus as “my All in All.” Is He your conscious source of supply and strength? Is He your joy, fulfillment, purpose, and meaning?
Do you seek these things in job status? In your net worth? In your recreational pursuits? In close relationships with others? In the recognition, you receive for your accomplishments?
In challenges, did you meet successfully? In the approval of others? In a well-done job? How passionate are you about Jesus?
Is your faith like a hat worn to protect your head only when it rains? Is it one you wear so habitually that it is your trademark?
The Father works to maximize the fruit His “orchard” produces. No fruit means no faith. Faith connects the Father and the believer. Those without it do not reflect Jesus’ life and are not part of Him.
Those who bear a bushel of “grapes” are pruned to cut away aspects of the self-life that will enable them to bear two bushels. The goal is not your ecstatic happiness but maximum fruitfulness. Pruning takes place through obedience to the Scriptures (John 15:3; 1 Peter 1:22), the trials of life (James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7), and suffering (Hebrews 5:8).
How are you nurturing your “believing connection” with Jesus?
What fruit are you producing?
What trials have brought greater fruitfulness?
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