This week, I was honored to speak to Arise worship interns. I love inspiring young leaders toward transformissional living! These millennials, span from age 17 to 31. They come from around the world (Australia, Canada and the United States). They are with us at Cape Christian for eight weeks. Then, they’ll return to their varied settings to lead. So, I asked myself, what would I have wished to know from a seasoned (aka “old”) leader when I was that age? I funneled nearly four decades of leadership experience into ninety minutes. They eagerly listened and took notes.
Here are the things I shared with these young leaders. They are in no particular order. Ten things I’ve learned about church leadership in nearly forty years:
- Leaders are Learners—Growing organizations are led by growing leaders. Read books and blogs. Listen to podcasts. Attend workshops and webinars. You are never too young or too old to learn.
- Leaders Build Teams—Great leaders build teams that build great organizations. Train yourself to look for other leaders. Discover, develop and deploy them. The best leaders are team players. They collaborate and help others become winners. Leaders grow leaders.
- Leaders Determine Their Brand—You will be known for something. Your brand is what people think of you. You have a personal brand that is shaped by what you do and say, how you look, and what you post on social media. Will you determine your brand or let others determine what you are known for? The best resource I know on this topic is the book Brand Aid. It’s superb!
- Leaders Cultivate a Servant Heart—The best leaders are servants. They help others become successful. They have the right attitude and are accessible and approachable. The finest leaders resist an entitlement mentality. Great leaders love to celebrate the success of their team and help others rise above them.
- Leaders Error on the Side of Grace—Effective leaders give others the benefit of the doubt. They gather all the facts before drawing conclusions. They postpone reaction and help team members learn from their blunders. They extend patience and grace. And when they are right, great leaders rarely point it out to their followers.
- Leaders Leverage Their Influence for Good—The most influential leaders inspire us without even being aware of it. They lead by example. They pick up trash and everyone else feels compelled to join them. They don’t use their leadership power to get perks and privileges. They use their influence to bless others and gain maximum impact.
- Leaders Know Character is Critical—I look for six C’s in leadership team members: Calling, Character, Competence, Commitment, Conflict resolution skills and Chemistry. Character is the most important of all. It will take you higher than you imagined or lower than you ever wanted to go. Excellent character is indispensible for outstanding leaders.
- Leaders are Big Picture Thinkers—Top leaders see what others don’t see. They paint a picture that allows team members and followers to see why, what they do, is important. Great leaders learn to fly above the immediate hill or valley and get a bird’s eye view of what is best for the organization over the long term.
- Leaders Must be Persistent—Great long-term results always come out of perseverance. Overnight successes usually happen through years of persistence by someone. It always looks easy after its been done. But there was nothing easy about it. Jim Collins writes about the “flywheel effect” in Good to Great. He’s exactly right. You can only live your vision with stick-to-it-ness. Persistence is mandatory.
- Leaders Must Keep Their Priorities in Order—As a leader in a large church, there are hundreds and hundreds of people that I try to bring with me on the journey. But the most important? My own family. My ministry won’t matter without them. My ministry won’t matter without my physical, emotional and spiritual health. I reminded the young interns to set personal boundaries and keep their lives in proper perspective and balance. I ended by sharing what I learned three decades ago from Rick Warren—divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually.
These ten are for young, middle age or older leaders. All of us are learners, correct? I have more to learn as well. What would you add to this list? Please share it in the comment section below. Thanks!