As I was serving at church earlier this week, my campus pastor and another staff member were talking. I had to step into the office for something and he asked me for a leadership tip. At first I was perplexed why he would ask me, although I was honored he would, and his asking was an encouragement I didn’t even realize I needed. As a quiet and often shy introvert it is easy for me to forget that others value my thoughts.
Words don’t form easily for me when put on the spot, but I said the first thing that came to mind: you’ve got to have a servant’s heart.
This is something I’ve had to pray for a God to cultivate in me. When it comes to certain tasks I still pray God will give me a servant’s heart with those tasks. (I mean does the endless laundry not exasperate anyone else or is that just me? I’ve joked and said I was supposed to have born a princess.)
Other thoughts came to mind after the conversation with my campus pastor ended and I went about my day. Of course there are certain things you can do to develop skills to be an effective leader, but I think leadership is more about developing your character and character traits as a leader.
For a while now God has been teaching me about leadership. He has been and still is teaching me what being a leader looks like as I have observed and been lead by the coaches of the team I serve on as well as our campus pastor and other staff members. I am blessed to serve during the week and see how our staff and pastors lead in a smaller group environment and not only on Sundays. Their leadership is the same no matter the day or size of the group.
So what have I learned about leadership?
Lead by Serving
First and foremost I do not think you can be as effective of a leader unless you are a servant leader. Honestly, I could leave it at that. As Jesus prepared to share his last meal with his disciples He served them by washing their feet.
Be a servant leader. People will not follow your words unless your example is worthy of following.
Lead with Grace
Jesus washed the feet of all his disciples.
All of them.
How could Jesus wash the feet of the one who would betray him in just a few short hours?
Because of grace.
Let’s be honest. This can be hard. We have expectations of others and when those expectations aren’t met we struggle. I am so thankful to have a friend and leader who understands how important giving grace is. We have to remember that we are human and God’s grace doesn’t expire. If we are His feet then our words and actions should always be full of grace.
Cover with Prayer
As we lead, we should cover those we are leading with prayer. As we voice their names to God, He gives us more of a love for them than what we could have on our own. Through those prayers He will give us the ability to show the kind of grace only He can give.
Lead with Humility
You can’t be a servant leader without humility. I think about the story of AJ McCarron and AJ Starr when I think of someone who leads with humility. McCarron saw Starr, a student with cerebral palsy, outside the Alabama practice facility one day. He offered him a ride and a friendship was formed that lead to Starr getting a volunteer job with the team.
McCarron could have kept going. He could have ignored Starr. But he was humble enough to look beyond the exterior of a person and see his heart instead. (I dare you to watch the story of their friendship and not cry.)
We can’t see past the surface of a person when we are focused on ourselves. Without a heart of humility we cannot see the true heart of another person, especially the ones we lead. Nor will we be able to recognize their potential.
Lead by serving.
Lead with grace.
Cover with prayer.
Lead with humility.