6 Essentials of Leadership - Part 7
What is the one thing that permeates every leadership essential?
If you’ve been following this column in recent months, you’ll know that we’ve been discussing the six Essentials of Leadership; six things that are essential for every leader who wants to be a fruitful leader.
But I need to come clean, I’ve been deceiving you all this time! (Sorry Lord!) Because this is part seven, though it is not the seventh essential of leadership - it is the essential of leadership that pervades all six of these essentials. It is the foundation of, the reason for and the result of all leadership.
What is it? Hope. Hope is the thing the permeates and encompasses every other leadership essential. Hope is the driving force that keeps us leading our young people when it would be so much easier to throw in the towel, and the result of our persistence when we resolve to keep going. Hope.
1. Relationship with God
What does our relationship with God give us if not hope? The hope of salvation; the hope of glory; the hope of eternity. The hope that we can be free of the destructive behaviours that once restricted us, the sinful patterns that imprisoned us. The hope that we can have life, and have it to the full. The equation is simple: The closer to God we are the more hopeful we become!
Did you know that ‘hope’ is one of the three things that Scripture instructs us to be ‘overflowing’ in? ‘Be overflowing with confident hope!’ (Romans 15:13). That’s why I believe for the leader, hope is not a personality trait, but a spiritual discipline.
What is one of the first signs that our spiritual disciplines have faltered; or that we are too busy - that we are failing in our self-leadership? Is it not that we begin to lose hope? And instead of being hopeful we find ourselves becoming cynical.
But as a leader, if you find yourself thinking cynical thoughts about another person, or the church, or even the institution, that thought should set alarm bells ringing in your heart - and not that there is something wrong with them, but there is something wrong with you.
Cynicism in intellectually cowardly. It takes no courage what-so-ever to tear down other people’s activities on social media with a sceptical remark. It takes no creativity to sit on the sidelines and poke holes in things that others are working so hard to accomplish.
And yes, maybe they’re making some mistakes. No, they don’t have it all right. But at least they’re giving it a go! Cynicism is the enemy of hope. You must ruthlessly eliminate cynicism from your life. It’s a self-leadership responsibility.
Is it not the great privilege of a leader to see something in our young people that they do not see in themselves and to call it out of them? To encourage them by saying, ‘I can see this in your future, I believe God has great plans for you,’ and to see hope rise in their hearts because of the words you have spoken to them?
In our communication with our young people - our mentoring, our preaching and our Bible studies - may the result be they leave feeling more hopeful than when they came.
What is vision if not believing in a better future? The hope that things can be better tomorrow than they are today, and the faith that it is not an impossible dream, but a potential reality. Vision is all about hope!
Why do we act? Why do we work hard? Why do we consistently serve Jesus and do this youth ministry thing that we do regardless of the paycheck (or lack thereof!) at the end of it all?
Is it not because we hope that God can do something special in the lives of others through us? Is it not that we hope our young people will authentically encounter Jesus for themselves and build a lasting relationship with him? Is it not because we hope for a better world? Is it not because we hope for his kingdom to come and his will to be done on earth as it is in heaven?
We act because we have hope, and we put our hand to that which we hope for.
I conclude this series by saying, leadership is all about hope. Simply put, if you inspire hope in others to dream more, learn more, do more and to become more, then you are a leader.
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