Though it’s sad to say, many leaders don’t finish well. We find this in the biblical record as well as in modern-day leadership; whether it’s in the business world, the political world or the church world. Far too many leaders quit, or disqualify themselves and are let go because of character flaws. More leaders fall over character issues than competency issues.
There are three aspects of finishing well:
1. Having a credible life
It’s critical to lead yourself well before attempting to lead others. The Bible has a lot to say about taking care of and leading yourself. Here are three references to verses that have significantly spoken to my heart about self-leadership: 1 Timothy 4:16 (ESV), Acts 20:28 (ESV), and Ezekiel 3:10-11 (NLT).
Generally, people willingly follow a leader because they respect and trust who the leader is and are excited about where the leader is going. I love Marcus Buckingham’s definition of true leadership: “Leaders have the unique ability/attributes to rally people to a better future.” Part of the ability/attributes is living a life worth following—a credible life.
I created something I call “The Power Wheel” that captures what it means to live a credible life.
- The power of Jesus Christ in the center, having my identity in him and intimacy with him.
- Out of that power source, I have a growing clarity about my life purpose which can function as a roadmap and compass for direction and future decisions.
- There is a growing passion and joy in my life because of my intimacy with Jesus and also increasing clarity as to who I am and my life purpose.
- Then I can establish priorities based on my purpose. These are the daily decisions I make every day as to how I use my time, and to what I say yes and no.
- Pacing has to do with how much I try to do and how fast I travel. Many leaders are trying to do too much and are traveling too fast.
2. Possessing a contagious vision
Not only must leaders live a Christ-centered and Christ-honoring life, they also need to have a God-given vision that people can get excited about. It’s the leader’s most important task to hear regularly from God: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10, NIV). Leading well is often a matter of receiving that vision from God as we spend time in his presence, casting the vision, and then continuing to communicate the vision as people tend to forget what the bigger picture is.
3. Building a cohesive team
When we’re given a vision from God, it will be bigger than we are and, in most cases, exceed our gifts and capacity to carry it out. We need to build a complementary team to join us in pursuing this God-given vision. It is a matter of identifying, selecting, developing, and training team members, and then deploying them as we delegate decision-making authority to them. Exodus 18 is a fantastic chapter on delegating and giving team members decision-making authority, not just tasks to carry out.
When identifying potential team members, consider the following:
Chemistry (with other team members)
Compatibility (with the vision, theology, and ministry philosophy of the team or organization)
Capacity (to do the job well and to grow as the organization grows)
Competency (what do they do well and bring to the table that is missing and needed)
I believe that everything a leader does each week should fall into one of these three areas:
- Continuing to grow in their walk with God and living a Christ-honoring and credible (not perfect) life that potential followers can trust and respect
- Hearing and receiving a vision from God that is cast and communicated in such a way as to rally people to that better future
- Building and then working with a team of complementary and gifted people to carry out the vision
By his grace may you be a “Leader Who Lasts.” May you hit the ribbon in full stride, fall into the arms of your loving savior Jesus, and hear those wonderful words from Him, “Well done good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”