As a local church pastor, I spend a considerable portion of my life thinking about leadership, reading on the topic of leadership, and even attempting leadership myself. I recently was chatting with my Associate Pastor, Jon Rocha, on this very topic of leadership and I asked his thoughts on what makes an effective leader. Our conversation was most stimulating and enlightening. Here was the crux of our conversation on effective, God-honoring leadership:
1) All leadership demands integrity. That is to say, the content of the leader’s actual life should match the content of their lips. In other words, leaders should “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk”. There should be no contradiction between what the leader says and what they actually do. Thus, an effective leader will guard their words carefully and ensure that they do exactly what they’ve promised to do. Like a glove to one’s hand…so are the words to the actions of an effective leader.
2) All leadership demands decisiveness. At some level, all leaders (whether they be in business, military, or ministry) must be decision-makers. They must become extremely comfortable with saying “yes” to certain projects/initiatives and “no” to others. The challenge with this aspect of leadership is that most decisions do not revolve around whether a project is morally right or wrong, but on whether or not it is right or wrong in terms of timing, methodology, etc. Thus, an effective leader will surround himself with people of wisdom and always look to the Lord for guidance and direction as they navigate the tricky waters of decision-making.
3) All leadership demands courage. What is courage? Well, courage is the conscious decision to act even in the midst of fear or uncertainty. Leaders need moral courage to stand up for what is ethically right. And leaders need physical courage to keep on keeping on even when life gets difficult. And life will get difficult…you can mark that one down. Good leaders are men and women of courage.
4) All leadership demands discipline. I personally define discipline as the ability to remain faithful even when the newness fades. A true leader cannot afford to chase after mountain top experience after mountain top experience, but will become comfortable in the valleys of life. Any project, ministry, or place of service doesn’t last exciting forever. A good leader understands this and an effective leader will press on and do what needs to be done (day in and day out) even when the excitement fades away. Good leaders are disciplined leaders.
So there you have it…Integrity. Decisiveness. Courage. Discipline. All marks of highly effective, God-honoring leadership.