Reaching others through Christ begins with living a life of integrity. This means step one in our leadership development is giving God the freedom to transform us into trustworthy people.
People won’t trust leaders who lack integrity, and they won’t listen to those they don’t respect. Leaders who have integrity and respect understand the importance of prioritizing the work of the heart. Leaders take themselves and the condition of their souls into every opportunity, decision, temptation and relationship. Whatever is going on inside us influences our impact on others. So, the work of the heart influences the kind of person we are, and the person we eventually become. Neglect the work of the heart, and you’ll end up reflecting the values of the world more than God. Modern leadership training often over-prioritizes talent, skill and ability. Although important, if our hearts and character are not matured and deepened, our leadership will struggle.
Authentic leaders resist the temptation to allow our faith to become past tense. We aggressively protect our ongoing intimacy with the Lord. We understand that when we allow our faith to fade, we become Ford salesmen who drive Chevrolets. We are telling people about something (and Someone) that used to be important to us but currently is no longer. Just like marriage and parenting necessitate an ongoing state of renewal, our relationship with God works the same way. When we lead ourselves daily into the presence of God to listen, receive, confess and worship, we renew that relationship.
"Never forget how critical leadership of the heart is to being an effective leader for Christ because when God reaches in and changes us, it opens the door for us to reach in and influence others."
-Dan Webster, Founder of Authentic Leadership
Let’s be honest: Leadership is messy, and it can beat us up. Being attentive
to our need to stay both spiritually and emotionally clean is challenging. Spiritually we will often fail, hurt others, make bad decisions and act self-centered. Choosing transparency before the Lord, and those we lead, helps keep us clean. Mentally, leading stretches the best of us. People will disappoint, confuse and sometimes even betray us, causing our heads to spin and our hearts to break. Emotionally, leading can bounce us from exhilaration to despair and from joy to frustration in a moment. Mature leaders recognize this is part of leadership and the impact it has on them, and they build strategies and disciplines to cope.
We each live under the constant pressure of discerning the next right step to move things ahead. We know God has assigned a unique work to each of us. We are to move that work forward. Whether we are building a business, ministry, organization or family, we have to keep priorities in line and stay focused to stay clear. Wise leaders access mentors because they know it’s hard to stay clear alone.
THOSE WHO DO THIS WELL
Leaders who do the work of the heart well are humble, honest and they doggedly chase wholeness. Humility always creates space; pride fills space. Humility creates space inside us to hear the voice of God and recognize others’ gifts and talents. Honesty creates a safe place. When I am quick to be honest about what I don’t know or where I’ve failed, it creates a safe space around me for others to be honest and grow. No one develops without a safe place to fail and learn. Never give up on your personal growth. As a maturing leader, enter each day open to life lessons. Commitment to personal growth is catalytic to others’ growth. Never forget how critical leadership of the heart is to being an effective leader for Christ because when God reaches in and changes us, it opens the door for us to reach in and influence others.
Prayer: Jesus, You are the ultimate authentic leader. I desire to live with integrity and reflect You in my leadership today. Amen.