With Father’s Day coming up this weekend, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a good leader, both in my family and as a pastor…I want to be the kind of dad, husband and pastor who always puts the needs of others first, and who helps others see more of who Jesus is along the way. (I like to think buying ice cream for my kids probably earns some points too).
As followers of Jesus, leadership is something we’re all called to. Because no matter in which seat you sit, if you follow Jesus, God has called you to be a leader in some capacity. We all lead in our families, our friendships, our schools, our workplaces, our churches. So today, I want to share with you 8 truths and 8 corresponding questions to help you be the best leader you can be – whether you’re a dad or another kind of leader.
1. Great leaders lead themselves. Now, leading yourself in all your daily decisions isn’t rocket science. You lead yourself by simply responding to Jesus at every turn. What steps do you need to take today to be a better you?
2. Great leaders are equal parts Mary and Martha. In Luke 10, we find these two disciples of Jesus doing opposite things…Martha is running around, totally busy, frustrated that her sister Mary is sitting at the Lord’s feet while she does everything. Great leaders know how to live like both these sisters. They know there’s a time to work and a time to rest, but being all one or the other doesn’t work because you either don’t lead or you burn out. Ninety-five percent of my problems are fixed by sitting at Jesus’ feet, and the rest get solved when I get up from sitting at Jesus’ feet and go fix what I screwed up. Are you sitting at Jesus’ feet?
3. Great leaders prioritize the right things. There’s always a million things we can do, but we have to prioritize whatever the game-changers are. That’s true in our jobs and in our personal lives. Are you getting the most important things done?
4. Great leaders learn from their mistakes. I like to say, you either learn or you die…that’s a pretty intense way of saying, our mistakes are either an opportunity to become the best or the worst versions of ourselves. The best leaders learn from their mistakes and keep going. What mistakes have you been making over and over again that you need to stop making?
5. Great leaders nurture and empower other leaders. The best leader isn’t the person with the most followers, but the person who makes the most other leaders. Here’s what I think is the key to empowering other people: if someone can do something 60% as good as you, empower them and raise them up the remaining 40%. If you can reproduce what you know in someone else – whether it’s your kids, a Bible study group, or a volunteer team – you are a great leader. So let me ask you, who is your huddle of reproducibility?
6. Great leaders know that influence is earned over time, not granted by position. In some ways, the only way to earn influence is to invest in relationships over time. How are you paying the relational tax to grow your influence?
7. Great leaders are learners. When you are in the middle of something where you don’t understand what you’re doing, learn. If we don’t ask the right questions, we get what we get and assume what we assume and then make decisions based on assumptions. What’s your growth plan?
8. Great leaders know the difference between criticism and feedback. Criticism comes from someone who doesn’t love you and wants to tear you down. Feedback comes from someone who loves you telling you something because they have your best interests at heart. The best leaders also know the difference between criticizing and giving feedback. Have you learned to turn a deaf ear to criticism and an open ear to feedback?
As we head into this weekend, some of us get to celebrate our dads, and some of us have more complicated and painful relationships with our fathers…and that’s really hard. No matter what your family background is, the beautiful thing about following Jesus is all of us get the opportunity to leave our own legacies, with a clean slate. So let’s all lead well, as we allow ourselves to be led by the Spirit of Jesus.
Happy Father’s Day, friends!