The Core of the Christian Leader
At the center of anything…a business, church, or leader, there is a core. It is the oil that makes the engine work. It is the power that makes the machine do its job. It is what IT is made of. If you do not know what you are all about at your core, you will never reach your potential.
A couple months ago I began wrestling with who I am at the core. In other words, what are the values that drive me as a leader? These values also represent the kind of leaders I want to be around. It marks the leader as someone worth following.
For me, there are five values at a leader’s core:
This value will always live at the top of my leadership value list. Without integrity, you cannot be a leader worth following. You just can’t. No one wants to give their best to a leader that they don’t believe. When you lose your moral authority with you team because you are not allowing your actions to match your words, you lose your influence. I have never met anyone who has said, “They might not be totally ethical or do what they say, but they sure can lead!” I don’t think I’ll ever hear that…at least I hope not. James 3:1 tells us that teachers/leaders will be held to a higher standard. If that makes you mad or nervous, then don’t lead. People want to believe in something. They want to believe in you. Show them that you are someone they can believe in because you are who you say you are.
I hope this speaks for itself, but I’m not sure it does. I have seen people use their personality to discount the importance of this. It is so important that you learn to have a positive attitude in order to lead people. I am a huge proponent of personality and the fact that God made each of us in a unique way. So even if you have a “half glass empty” personality, it’s no excuse to be negative when leading your team. People do not want to work for someone who is negative. Now I know many of you are “realists”. That’s fine as long as you allow yourself to think positively towards making things happen and the people you lead. This does not mean you can’t push your employees or even get mad at times. When you are a positive person, those times are even more impactful because they are out of the norm, and your team will realize how serious you are in that moment.
This feels like it does not even need to be stated. We all know that without attention, this will not happen. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be a great Christian leader without having a passionate relationship with your Heavenly Father. Craig Groeschel talks about how the only time he read the Bible was to prepare for Sunday and how he had to re-engage with his own personal devotional life with Jesus. Without it, we will become lifeless and cynical. The Bible serves as the compass for our leadership. Without knowing it and spending time with it, we will lose our way.
People first. When we realize that putting people first is a crucial part of being a great Christian leader, we will create a loyal following. It is so important that we get this right as leaders. I know many of you are going to push back and tell me that there are times you have to make a task over person decision. Agreed. However, so many leaders choose task first as their normal posture. Nothing can destroy a leader’s influence faster than consistently choosing tasks and to do lists over people. Choosing people first sets you up to make those hard decisions that might be company, church, or task-related without losing all of your influence. In other words, you have built up so much relational capital that a withdrawal here and there because you HAVE to does not destroy what you have worked so hard on. I think Jesus chose to put people first. As Andy Stanley always says, “I choose to go with the guy who predicted his own death and rose from the dead.”
I honestly think everyone believes this, but it’s really hard to live out everyday. There is something about humility that just leaks. People are attracted to humble leaders. They just are. I do not think I have ever met anyone who did not like working for a humble leader who always gave credit to the team instead of themselves. Jesus came not to be served but TO serve, and I am not sure any of us have to right to choose differently.
I believe that it is time for leaders to become more focused in a world of chaos. Let’s focus on our core. Who we want to be. Who God is calling us to be. Let’s figure out how to represent our God to a world that needs great Christian Leaders!