Want to be a leader, which is someone others follow? Here are three non-negotiable traits. Being a #TheoThursday post, I’ll frame these as prayer requests because they originated in a text-exchange early one morning between Nate (a subscriber and reader of BIB) and myself.
Pray for the courage to do what is necessary. To be someone worth following, you need to be characterized by action. Thus, you need courage every single day. The eyes of the organization are on you, and your fellow leaders, to act. This inevitably involves hard decisions (“doing what is necessary”), which requires even more courage.
Pray for wisdom to make change feel safe. To be someone worth following, you need to move the organization from “here” to “there.” Change is inevitable, and it is inevitable that people will resist it. This is because we are hard-wired to resist change. All of us! Our brains seek safety and security. Thus, to be someone worth following, we need wisdom to make change feel safe. While this admittedly sounds soft, what I am advocating is nothing of the kind. Leaders need to listen to input, clarify exactly where the organization is going, and be clear on the kind people needed to get there. Resistance is often a call for the leader to be clearer and more exact so that the expectations are known. The unknown is risky, and even scary. Knowing what’s coming, rather, makes people feel safe.
Pray for the joy found only in Christ, the kind that is not dependent on circumstances, or “having” a good day. Some of my readers are not Christians, so allow me to elaborate before turning me off. To be someone worth following, you need to have a resounding hope outside of the business, organization, or whatever it is that you are leading. This is because so much of life / whatever you are leading, is outside of your control. For your mood to be dependent on circumstances, or “having” a good day, inside whatever it is you are leading, is akin to a short-term investment in the most volatile of stocks. The rate of return is simply all over the map, and so are your moods if you are depending on circumstances to dictate them. To be someone worth following, your moods simply cannot fluctuate that dramatically. This, too, will make people feel unsafe. So, you need to fill your bucket somewhere less dependent on circumstances.
For me that somewhere is in my trust of Jesus. I trust him because he has proven trustworthy to me. He is also vastly misunderstood. Two thousand years later, especially in the West, his message seems to regularly get dumb-downed to some version of “do this, or believe in this, so that you get the comforts of the good life.” But as he told his disciples, following him isn’t easy, and would even lead to trouble. My favorite verse to this end (which comes at the end of him telling his disciples that they soon be grieving his death) is, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).
I have found life and leadership to be this way, the way that inevitably involves trouble. The world isn’t the way God intended, and we can all look at the news, let alone our own lives, to see it. Yet, there is a rescue plan in process. All are welcome to join. Everyone. Especially you.
So, this is my occasional reminder that I am always willing to meet for coffee, or talk on the phone, if something in this post has piqued your interest about Jesus.
His invitation is for everyone.