I’ve hung out with megachurch pastors and I’ve read plenty of books and biographies of great leaders. But there is a hero from whom I’ve learned more about relational leadership than anyone else – my wife, Angie Cox.
Quickly think of five common traits of high-impact leaders… good time management, assertiveness, drive, energy, charisma, etc. Humility rarely lands in the list when it comes to our modern, top-down management systems. But Jesus (the greatest leader ever) and Moses (perhaps the second) had this one thought in mind – great leaders don’t have power over people, but power under people by way of humility.
Having an ambition to lead is great, but it doesn’t produce actual leadership. Taking risks does. The best leader in the room isn’t the one with all the answers. The leader is the one who volunteers to go first and show the way. Every great leader I know has been scorched by the pain of making the hard, and sometimes wrong, decisions.
Two thirds of the earth’s surface is water, yet there are places in the world where people will literally go to war over access to clean drinking water. In the same way, there have never been so many books, seminars, and blogs on leadership, yet the culture is still a giant vacuum desperately needing leaders to get out front.
A pastor asked me to talk to his staff and answer this question: “If our church is going to double in the next two years [from five hundred to a thousand], what will it take?” The same question might be asked from a business leader: “If we want to double sales in the next two years, what will it take?” This is what I shared:
Not all change leads to growth, obviously, but growth never happens without change. So leadership is, in large part, motivating and organizing a group of people to change and grow. But… nobody likes change. Even people who say they like change don’t like it naturally. They’ve just developed a good attitude about embracing it.
Nothing paralyzes good leadership like fear, and nothing fuels good leadership like taking risks in faith. Obviously, we must make decisions wisely, but when we know, it’s time to go. This is coming from a somewhat trigger-shy leader.
I’m afraid it’s all too common for people to have huge aspirations about who they want to become in the future, but almost no plan or willingness to get there. We love the idea of changing the world, but we fail to see that changing the world starts with making a difference in my own personal world – my own heart, the lives of those close to me, and then the lives of those with whom I find myself in close proximity.
Just two quotes that grabbed me, from Al Mohler’s book The Conviction to Lead:
Congregations and Christian institutions need effective leaders who are authentically Christian – whose leadership flows out of their Christian commitment. Wherever Christian leaders serve, in the church or in the secular world, their leadership should be driven by distinctively Christian conviction… If our leaders are not passionately driven by the right beliefs, we are headed for disaster. At the same time, if believers cannot lead, we are headed nowhere.
If Proverbs could have a 32nd chapter of nuggets of wisdom, David Chrzan would write it. In the five years or so that I’ve known and worked with David, he’s repetitively dropped advice that has shaped my own philosophy of leadership. For example, in a recent conversation David said, “You can have growth or you can have control. And you have to decide how much of each you want.”