It has often been said that Rome wasn’t built in a day and in the same way leadership style isn’t formed instantaneously. It takes years for a person’s leadership style to cement and for that person to be comfortable in who they are as a leader. Growing as a leader is a lifelong process and along the way there is always room for improvement as we mature in Christ and lead others to do the same as well. Let’s look at 3 ways that you can grow into a more Christ-like leader.
Know your own style. In order to know how to get somewhere you must first know where you are and then know where you want to go, then you can chart the best route to get there. Start by knowing your personal leadership style. There are different styles of leading and no one style is a perfect fit for every situation. Do you tend to sit back and watch or are you normally at the front of the charge? Do you like to encourage the team as a whole or are you more on a personal level with those you are leading? Are you more apt to see small details or are you more of a big picture kind of person? These are just a few questions that we can ask ourselves to understand more about how we are as a leader. Forbes.com has a great leadership style assessment test that will help you think through some of these questions.
As for me, I tend to be more of a big picture idealist. I enjoy working along side people to make sure they clearly understand the goal we, as a group, are wanting to achieve and then giving them the freedom to make this goal a reality. I know that I don’t work best on deadlines but rather by having a general idea of what needs to get done and setting small goals as I go until the job is complete. I encourage along the way but for the most part I like to trust that my team can handle what they need to handle, and this frees me to be able to do what I need to do instead of hovering and micromanaging. There are obviously some strengths and weakness inherent to this type of leadership. Most people enjoy having the freedom to work how they like to work but, if they’re like me they won’t do well with time management and things can pile up quickly. Also, I know when I set a clear vision and people grab hold to it great things can be done but only if the details are worked out, which is not something I’m good at.
Find out what your personal leadership style is and how you work best. What are some strengths to this style of leadership? What are some weakness? Once you find out what your leadership style is then you can ask yourself how you can grow to be more like Jesus in that leadership style. Maybe you’re an idealist like me and need to be out doing a little more rather than brainstorming (think of Mark 1: 32-34 and that Jesus was out all-night healing). Maybe you are more concerned with detail and need to learn to let go of control a little bit better (see Luke 10). Whatever it may be, find out how that style of leadership can become more like Jesus.
Know your strengths. Secondly, in order for us to lead well we must know our own strengths and spiritual gifts. Have you ever met someone who thought they were really good at something and in reality they were terrible? We all know that one person who thinks they can sing but the sound guy always turns their mic off. When I work on my car I always manage to come out with extra parts and I don’t believe it is because I know more than the manufacturer. When you know your own strengths and spiritual gifts and what God made you to do then you can really excel. Paul illustrates this in 1st Corinthians 12: 12-30 by demonstrating how the body has many parts and each part fulfills a specific function. Once you know what you are built for then you’ll find your purpose and do it well. If you are built to lead in a pastoral role that’s great, do it to the best of your ability, but if you are made to lead the prayer team that’s just as glorious and it should be done to the best of your ability.
At the same time, it is just as important for us to know our own weaknesses. Many leaders fail because they try very hard to do something they just aren’t made to do. We all have limitations and weaknesses and we can rest assured that Christ is most glorified in our weakness (2nd Cor. 12:9).
Since we all have certain strengths and weakness it is important for us to build up our strengths and trust Christ in our weaknesses. If you are fairly good at administrating but not great at finances, why not focus making your administrating the best it can be and allowing the finances to be done by someone else. Be great at a few things rather than trying to be average in many things. I know that teaching and preaching are my strengths, but my administration is not that good. If I can only improve one thing I am going to focus on improving my teaching and preaching and allow someone who has focused on improving their administration skills to step in and lead in that area.
Build a team. Lastly, if we want to grow as leaders we must build a strong team. Only one person was ever perfect in his leadership ability and that was Jesus. We all have limitations and weaknesses and it is simply foolish to think that one person can perfectly lead any church or organization. Even Jesus had his 12 disciples and he gave them authority (Matthew 16:19). It is easy for us to think that we can do everything ourselves but sooner or later the demand will become too great for any one person to handle on their own. In fact, this is exactly what was happening to Moses when Jethro advised him to delegate responsibility out to leaders (Exodus 18: 13-27). Part of the responsibility of leadership is to disciple others to be fit to lead and this can only be done if leaders are willing to let go of a certain amount of the control they have (2nd Timothy 2:2).
Often, we like to surround ourselves with people who think and act like we do but this is normally a very bad strategy for building a team. The danger is that our team will become to heavy in one trait and topple over. Find out what areas you are lacking in and find someone who is strong in that area. For example, I mentioned that I am mostly a big picture guy that often fails to see the detail and if my team is fully built of big picture people then no one will every be looking at the details. Remember that there is always someone who is really good at what you are really bad at and there is somebody who loves to do the thing that you can’t stand doing. When we have team members who excel in areas where we lack it allows each member of the team to be the master of one area instead of everyone trying to be a jack of all trades.
Leadership is essential in the church and there is always room for our leadership to grow. I’ve listed just a few ideas to think through and to help in the improvement process. Does your leadership look like that of Jesus’s? What areas can you work on? What areas do you need to allow someone else to step in? As we lead let us grow to be more like Christ.