When you think of the word leader, images of a person in a formal position of authority might come to mind. It’s easy to think of a government official or an executive in a company as a leader. The truth is we’re all either current leaders, or we have the capacity to lead in some area of our lives.
Leading others in a positive, productive direction is a huge responsibility, but don’t let that scare you. God has given you gifts and talents and placed tools in your life to help you lead effectively. That’s the good news. It becomes more challenging as a leader when you’re attempting to be impactful while managing the obstacles that will inevitably come your way.
Conflicting personalities, financial struggles and uncommitted team members are some examples of difficulties you’ll need to overcome. However, Christian leaders have an additional burden to bear — to lead with love and compassion in a way that makes their followers want to continue following them. Keep these five strategies in mind and let them be gentle reminders about godly leadership when things get tough:
1. Let Integrity Be Your Guide
Leaders need to have integrity. That idea should come as no surprise to anyone.
Sometimes it’s easier or more convenient to make choices or take actions in private that you may not have if they were made public. Upstanding leaders must guard against such behavior. Make it a point to stand behind your actions and to be proud of what you do. Mark 4:22 says, “for whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.” Lead as if your private actions could be exposed to everyone at any time.
By consistently holding yourself to a high moral standard, you are practicing leading and living with integrity.
2. Be a Teacher
One of the best motivations for being a good leader, especially when under duress, is to know others are watching you. Model the good behavior you want others to demonstrate. Take care to monitor your speech and control your temperament.
Another thing to consider is tapping into reliable resources to help you direct those following you. A methodology, such as Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship, developed by people who specialize in training and leadership development may be a good foundation for teaching Godly concepts to others.
3. Also Be a Student
As a leader, you’ll teach others and help them reach their potential, but it’s also important to never stop learning yourself. Christians spend time in God’s word to understand what He would have us do and be. Learning how to be a good leader is no different. In 2 Timothy 2:15, the apostle Paul wrote that we should “study to show thyself approved unto God.” We must be diligent in being of service to God and understanding His word. The book of Proverbs has several scriptures to guide leaders.
To be a good student, take initiative to try new things. Leading with humility means acknowledging you don’t know everything, but you are willing to learn, try something new or do something differently than you have in the past. It doesn’t mean you have to go skydiving to prove you’re open to new experiences. The people you lead will take notice if you try to improve and grow by being ready to learn.
4. Remember Patience Is a Virtue
With increasing pressure to do more and do it better, faster and with fewer resources, leaders are concerned with producing results. The results you seek may not come at the pace or at the level of quality you hope for, but trust that diligence and wise decisions will ultimately get you where you want to be. Continue to show gratitude to the people who are a part of your team and are working to help you reach your goal. Growing impatient with people or processes is not likely to help your cause. There are ways to practice patience as it may not be an intuitive response to situations.
Conflict is another area in our lives that tests patience. Know that if you are working with other people for long enough, disagreements will occur. When issues arise, confront them head on. But do it with love and a spirit of patience. Managing conflict in a constructive way helps team members get to a resolution while still maintaining respect for one another.
5. Surround Yourself With a Strong Team
Good leaders are smart, but wise leaders understand the importance of surrounding themselves with honest, trustworthy mentors. Proverbs 15:22 states that “without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.”
When you make plans for yourself or the people you are leading, you’ll naturally be biased toward the direction you want to go in. Sharing your plans and ideas with people who are discerning, objective and believe God’s word can be a great asset. Your circle of mentors may shed light on your situation by bringing forth ideas or perspectives you hadn’t considered. Their input may also help affirm that you are on the right path.
These steps aren’t hard, and they shouldn’t be. God wants us to be successful in all our efforts.
While you may be in a leadership position, remember that you are really a servant, serving the Lord first and foremost. Pray and allow God to direct your path because He is ultimately in control.
Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer on a mission to change the world and help people live happier, more enriched lives. She is also the founder of the career and happiness site Punched Clocks.