Tag: biblical leadership

My #1 post in 2011: How a Young Leader Can Gain Influence

Young leaders often feel behind the curve.

Every meeting they attend, every team they lead, every trip they plan…they’re the youngest and least experienced. And, in my case, I’ve been in the room where everybody present had children older than me.

I can’t tell you how many looks I was flashed that said, “How cute…he’s trying to lead us…isn’t that neat?!?” As a leader, that’s frustrating.

When I started in my current role, I was the youngest on staff.

When I started in my current role, I was the younger than every one of the small group leaders at Grace.

But over time, I’ve been able to grow some level of influence. And here’s one principle I’ve learned:

Be faithful in the little things.

If I was given a task, even if it didn’t directly relate to my area of leadership, I worked to make sure I completed the task well. Not just half-heartedly, but with excellence.

If I took on a new responsibility, I made sure that I was 100% faithful, to the best of my abilities and even more so, to exceed expectations.

And this principle is biblical:

One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much… – Luke 16:10

It’s the little things, the smaller responsibilities, that are the greatest test of character, not the bigger ones. Letting the ball drop on the “little things” is a symptom of a heart that’s not ready for bigger, weightier things.

If you’re given smaller, less significant assignments and you fail to meet and exceed expectations, why would those who are in leadership over you trust you to meet and exceed expectations in more significant roles?

The insignificant tasks you take on early in leadership may be just that…insignificant. Except for one thing: they show your character. And if you want to gain influence, character (even more than age and experience) is key.

A certain level of trust must be granted to you because you’re young. But a deeper, more substantial level of trust, the one you’re looking for, is earned.

Trust is earned one faithful step at a time.

Be faithful in the small steps. It’ll pay off in time.

Have you ever dropped the ball on a small responsibility?

Did you see that affect your influence?

*Image credit Creation Swap user Drew Palko

 

Leading with integrity

It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing, or how you’re wired…you can lead with integrity.

It’s easy to get frustrated in your work because

  • you’re not working where you want to be working
  • you’re not making the money you want to be making
  • you’re not making the difference you want to be making
  • you are in a dead-end job
  • your boss is tough to work for
  • you’re not maximizing your strengths
  • you work behind a desk
  • you work outside in the elements
  • you have to answer too many emails
  • you’re given too much structure
  • you aren’t given any structure
  • you have too much on your plate
  • you have too little on your plate

And maybe those are all things that you need to work on changing.  Maybe you should change positions.  Or careers.  Or cities.  But one fact remains.

You can always lead with integrity.

Joseph did.

  • Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard, left all that he owned in Joseph’s care because he trusted Joseph. (Genesis 39: 3-6)
  • Potiphar’s wife tempted Joseph to sleep with her…Joseph chose to run away.  (Genesis 39:6-12)  That takes some character.
  • Joseph led and influenced while he was in prison (though he was unjustly accused and prosecuted), gaining the favor and trust of the keeper of the prison. (Genesis 39:19-23)
  • When he was finally released from prison, he didn’t choose bitterness, but trusted God and spoke the truth to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said of Joseph: “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?”  That’s leading with integrity.
  • Joseph fairly sold food to the Egyptians during the famine.  Integret-ous?  Yeppers.

Was Joseph treated fairly?  Did he have a loving boss?  Was he consistently working in an optimum working environment?  Was he always able to maximize his strengths?

Nope. Nope. Nope. Nope.

But he led with integrity.  Always.

And so can you.

Integrity isn’t based on your circumstances.  It’s rooted in your heart.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters (Colossians 3:23)

 

Greatness isn’t Demanded

Don’t demand an audience with the king
or push for a place among the great.
It’s better to wait for an invitation to the head table
than to be sent away in public disgrace. (Proverbs 25:6-7)

Anybody can force their way to the “head of the table.”  But being at the head of the table doesn’t guarantee you’ll have committed followers.  Or that you’re a good leader.  Positional leadership doesn’t get you an “audience with the king” (influence).  It may get you a seat among the court, but having the ear of his audience takes time.  And trust.  And respect.

Building trust takes time and effort.  When you earn the respect of those you’re called to lead (and don’t simply demand that they follow you), they’re willing to go the extra mile to help accomplish the vision.  They’re willing to work hard for you.  And they’re willing to give you grace when you fail.

I’ve seen this deficient form of leadership with younger leaders.  By God’s grace, they’re given a leadership position.  And then, instead of working to build trust among their team (which is made more difficult because, often, those they’re leading are more mature), they demand compliance.  “Things are going to change around here.  I’m the pastor/teacher/worship pastor/small group leader, etc.  What you need to decide is whether or not you are on board.  If you’re not on board with the changes, then you can leave.”  In their zeal for change, they overlook wisdom.  And they damage relationships in the process.  They’re “sent away in public disgrace.”

I’ve seen this with older leaders, too.  They’ve “pushed for a place among the great” and gotten it.  They’ve forced their way into leadership, so when the direction they’re headed is questioned, they see it as a personal threat (instead of a suggestion for healthy growth) and become prickly and defensive.  They don’t put up with new, fresh ideas.  “Who are you to question my authority?” they say.  “You just don’t really know what you’re talking about.  When you’ve been around as long as I have…”

Followers who are demanded aren’t really followers.  They’re workers.  Hired hands.  Slaves.  And they end up frustrated, bitter, unmotivated, and underutilized.

Build relationships with those you lead.  In time, you just might get an invitation to the head of the table.

Are you a leader prone to forcing your way to the table?  Have you ever found yourself demanding that people follow you?

 

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