Leadership is rooted in integrity. People will (rightly!) watch your lives, looking for consistency of words and actions. Honesty and truthfulness, demonstrated by promises kept and faithfulness in things small and great, will build credit into the leader’s account. People watch to see how you are with your wife and your children; how loyal you are to your friends; how prone to grumble or prove disloyal. Are you merely a charismatic showman or are you rooted in consistency and integrity? A true leader’s very behaviour expresses a personal set of values and beliefs that govern his life.
Consistent commitment to the vision
People want to see how you react when there are setbacks and delays in connection with your vision. Are you quick to abandon one project and take up another? Does short-term disappointment change your original intention? Does the cold wind of criticism take you off course? Can they trust you with their love, their time, their energy, their money? Will their own longings and vision be fulfilled if they follow you? Or are you here today and gone tomorrow?
Leadership never stops at words. Leaders must act. Are you professional exhorters who don’t actually get your hands dirty or are you leading from the front? People listen to your preaching, but they imitate your behaviour. If you call the church to prayer, are you at the heart of it, leading with faith and commitment, or do you find that other commitments prevent your actually being present?
When urging the church to raise large sums of money, do you see your task as simply to inspire people’s faith so that they give generously, or do you also give sacrificially? Leaders must be thoroughly identified with the matter in hand. King David not only exhorted the people to build a temple, he made it clear that he had poured his own financial resources into the vision (1 Chron. 29:3).
If urging people to be whole-hearted in worship, do you yourself draw near to God and become taken up with worship? Or are you still in pastoral administration mode, watching the people, not sensitive to the Holy Spirit? Worship leaders should personally get taken up with God and let those who wish to follow respond to their lead. Don’t focus on reluctant worshippers and try to bully them into worship!
When introducing a vital new development in church life such as the Alpha programme, leaders should not immediately delegate the task but get involved, or others will infer that this is not genuinely central to the church’s vision and allow it to stay on the margins. Gideon led from the front. His war cry was, ‘Watch me and do as I do.’ This is Biblical leadership.
Do you keep the promises that you make to your people? Careless, unkept promises undermine leadership strength and give birth to cynicism in the ranks. There is great power in the public promise of a true leader. Careless speech and promises that are easily abandoned undermine leadership.
[To be continued…]