6 Essentials of Leadership - Part 1
Fruitful Leaders are First Faithful Christians
The great beauty of the body of Christ is that not one of us is alike. Each of us has been deliberately and uniquely created by God, on purpose, for a purpose. That means that not one of us will lead our youth ministries in the same way and that we lead at our very best when we understand the unique set of strengths, gifts, personality and experiences that God has granted us, and lead out of who we are.
So here’s the headline: You lead at your best when you are most fully the person God created you to be. However, with that truth underpinning the thoughts that follow, I have come to believe that there are six things that are essential to every leader, no matter your strengths, gifts, personality and experiences.
That whoever you are, whatever context you lead in, these six things are essential for every leader who wants to be a fruitful leader. The first three essentials have to do with our private foundations, they are the internal qualities that determine our external reach.
The second three have to do with our public leadership, they are the things that make the leader a leader. Over the next six articles, we’ll be exploring these essentials one by one.
The first leadership essential for every youth leader must be our relationship with God. Our relationship with God is the first and most important foundation because it is the thing that all of our youth and children’s ministry must be built upon. I know, shocker right!? Bet you didn’t see that coming!
OK, I get it, you already know that, and I haven’t told you anything new here. But the really interesting question is why is this so important, and why is this so important for leaders in particular?
The best leaders I know tend to be action-oriented, achievement-driven, make-it-happen kind of people. And that’s a good thing! But it is also dangerous thing if not built on and rooted in this first private foundation.
Why? Because if our relationship with God is not the foundation upon which we build our ministries, then very quickly our activity begins to determine our identity. We come to define ourselves by our leadership rather than our sonship.
In Luke 10, Jesus sent out seventy-two of his followers on a mission, to go and do some ministry on his behalf - much like you and I are doing today with our youth and children’s ministries. And sure enough, God does some amazing things through their lives, and they come back to Jesus buzzing because of what they have experienced…
The seventy-two returned with joy and said, ‘Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.’ (Luke 10:17)
“Look what we’ve done for you Lord,” they say. But check out Jesus’ response…
He replied, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven … However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.’ (Luke 10:18, 20)
In other words, he wants them to remember that joy comes from their relationship with him, not their achievements for him.
So can I ask you to consider, what most gratifies you? Is it your relationship with him or your accomplishments for him? How much of who you are is determined by what you do? What would happen to your identity if your ministry was taken away?
Guys, we are Christians, we function as youth leaders. But because we so often say, “I am a youth leader,” it doesn't take one before we begin to confuse ourselves with our roles; our identity with our activity. But fruitful leaders are first faithful Christians.
I love how Peter Scazzero describes this in his book, The Emotionally Healthy Leader: “Your being with God (or lack of being with God) will trump, eventually, your doing for God, every time. We cannot give what we do not possess. We cannot help but give what we do possess.”
Wow. “Your being with God will trump your doing for God every time.” Why? Because it’s when you’re close to Jesus that your courage is greater, your ideas are fresher, your faith goes deeper, your passion is more contagious and your leadership is stronger. Because the greatest gift you give to your young people is the love of Jesus in you. So let’s be sure we have enough being with God to sustain our doing for God.
Francis Chan put it this way: “Time with God has to drive you. God’s presence is all that matters. If we are connected to him we will bear much fruit. Everything is dependent on him … everything depends on my relationship with God.”
Fruitful leaders are first faithful Christians.