Sometimes I am guilty of being overly simplistic in my ideas and solutions to problems. I know that life is complex, messy and often not simple to understand or accept. Having said this, I like to take matters that seem very complicated to graps and hard to live out and make them a little simpler--putting the cookies on the lower shelf, if you will.
Leadership is one of those subjects that people have lots of thoughts and opinions on, as I do. There is seemingly no end to all the books already out there, and coming out all the time, on leadership. Everyone has their opinion, convictions and understanding on what leadership is and isn’t.
In this post, allow me to offer a very (and admittedly) simple view of leadership-- what I believe is the heart, the essence, of what leadership is really and truly all about--whether it is leadership in the market place, the home or the church.
One of my favorite verses on leadership is Exodus 32:34 where we have God speaking to Moses:
“Now go, lead the people to the place I told you about. Look! My angel will lead the way before you. But when I call the people to account, I will certainly punish them for their sins.” (NLT)
“But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” (ESV)
There are a lot of leadership principles in this single verse. Here are a few:
- God will speak to his leaders.
- The leaders will pass along what they hear from God to the people they lead.
- God will communicate to his leaders where he wants them to take the people they lead.
- Leadership is all about taking people from where they are to somewhere else.
It often times amazes me how much can be gleaned from just a single verse. As we look at the life of Moses and his leadership, it is clear that God never intended that he lead the people by himself, but rather recruit and develop others to lead with him. (Ref. Exodus 18:13-27 and Numbers 11:17)
Though not specifically mentioned in Exodus 32:34, Moses was the product of years grooming by God and God developing him for his role and responsibility--from the day he was put into the Nile in a basket until the day he led the people out of Egypt. God had his training program for Moses.
So here is my very elementary and simple view of leadership:
There are three pieces that constitute biblically-based, Holy Spirit-empowered and Jesus-honoring leadership.
- The person you are and are becoming, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- The direction you are headed, having heard, and hearing, from the Lord.
- The team you are building to help you get there
After years of leading in numerous situations and years of coaching other leaders, I believe that these three elements are foundational to everything else.
A leader does well to spend time consistently and continually on:
1) Who he/she is and is becoming
2) The vision they have as to where they are headed
3) The team they are building to get them there
I further believe that:
- People follow leaders because they trust who they are and are excited about where they’re headed.
- Leaders would be complete fools, and die way before their time, if they try to carry out a God-given vision by themselves
Is this way too simplistic? Is leadership much too complicated to reduce to a few short and easily articulated and understood principles? I would love to hear from you on this.