The Lord established the direction for my life long before my understanding of God’s calling ever developed in my heart. It would have been impossible for those who served the Lord during my formative years spiritually to imagine the impact their investment (leadership) would have on the Lord’s chosen path for my journey with Him. The love of a gracious Primary Sunday School teacher followed by the consistent example of a Royal Ambassador leader established sensitivity to the Lord’s love for me. The encouragement of a committed Youth Minister and the powerful dedication of a mentoring pastor combined with the faithful, loving-kindness of my Heavenly Father provided the leadership required to transform the direction my life would take.
After 42 years as a pastor, I recently transitioned to the next chapter in ministry as the Lord is opening new opportunities to serve His Kingdom’s purpose. As I continue to seek the Lord’s footprints, with a desire to follow Him faithfully and prayerfully finish well, I share these lessons learned related to leadership.
1. Select carefully those who will mentor you. Then, prayerfully consider those you choose to assist you as you set the course for your life. It may be challenging or impossible to alter your course once it is determined.
- Choose a shepherd to guide you, not a drover. See Psalm 23, John 10. It may be an expert in your field or someone who acknowledges your potential and is willing to invest their life in you.
- Become a mentor yourself. If a good mentor has blessed you, then understand the only way to prosper in your blessing is to bless another. This principle is biblical. See Genesis 12:1-3. Investing in others will lead you back to those who have invested in you.
Jesus selected 12, and within that 12, He had 3, but there was never a moment when He was not One with the Father.
2. Recognize they did not teach you everything in school. The running joke among preachers is, “Hey, they did not teach that in seminary.” The sooner you discover your degree earned you a diploma and not an all-inclusive omniscience, the fewer heartaches you will live through.
- Leadership is a journey. While book learning (as we say down south) is good, your experience will become your true north to leadership.
- Acknowledging that you do not have all the answers will not diminish your role as a leader; it will allow others to see you as human and willing to search for the answers. Therefore, there is no need to become defensive. Instead, use that moment as an opportunity to build trust among your team members. It is better to admit you do not know than for your team to discover a cover-up.
- Do not confuse counterfeit with competence. Successful leaders lead with competence gained through experience, not with a misguided, make-believe plan intended only to impress.
3. Listening to others carefully before speaking will earn you the right to be heard. Sometimes, we cut people off before telling us all they want/need us to know. Those you lead will not consider what you have to say is worth hearing if you fail to demonstrate that what they have to say is important to you. Your relationship with those you lead ultimately determines your success as a leader.
4. There are times when the flock you lead does not need a preacher; instead, they need a shepherd. Likewise, there are times your team does not require a boss; they need a captain. An individual may be designated as captain of a team, but it is my experience that influential leaders emerge as they interact with the team. Has your team chosen you as their captain? Captains win their team over being an example to all. Do not be afraid to be vulnerable.
As one living sent (every Christ-follower), remember Jesus called you to walk in His footprints. As you walk in His footprints, Jesus has commissioned you to lead others to His cross as your leadership influences their decision to receive Him as “The Truth that sets them free” (John 8:32).
Chuck Groover, D. Min.
PO Box 1761
Mt. Juliet, TN 37121-1761