How can we know we are leading as Christ would have us lead? There are many excellent resources available for leadership training–both faith-based and secular–yet the best manual for any leadership role is the Bible. If we will start by focusing on the leadership skills emphasized in the Bible, then we can filter all other leadership training we receive through our understanding of scripture.
In the previous post, we looked at an Old Testament passage and considered who that passage was teaching us to BE. In this entry, I will give an example of how we can analyze a passage for what it is teaching us to DO as leaders. Let’s consider the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians. While we tend to read Paul’s letters in church and apply them to our church relationships, they were written to people who were just learning how to be Christians and Paul was trying to help them understand that the Christian faith applies to all aspects of life, to all relationships, and to all our activities inside and outside the church. Here’s the passage from Colossians 3:12-17 (CEB) and I have highlighted the verbs, which are the clues for what we should DO:
12 “Therefore, as God’s choice, holy and loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with each other and, if someone has a complaint against anyone, forgive each other. As the Lord forgave you, so also forgive each other. 14 And over all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 The peace of Christ must control your hearts—a peace into which you were called in one body. And be thankful people. 16 The word of Christ must live in you richly. Teach and warn each other with all wisdom by singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 Whatever you do, whether in speech or action, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God the Father through him.”
This is a very practical passage. There are lots of “DOs” in these verses. Once you have compiled a list of what you are to DO, consider whether someone else would describe your leadership with those kinds of words. From this passage, we see that our leadership should include the actions of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, love, peace, thankfulness, teaching, warning, and singing. Then v. 17 reminds us that no matter what we DO, it should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus and with gratitude to God. Wow! Now that’s a list we can chew on!
As a leader, think back to the last meeting you led or the last time you delegated a task or had to correct someone’s behavior. Could any of the words in that list be applied to HOW you led? We all have room for improvement. If there is a particular skill in that list that is a challenge for you, ask God to help you develop it. Pray specifically for that skill to be obvious in your next action as a leader. Ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable to that skill by gently reminding you when you don’t seem to be exhibiting it.
Of course, the word singing is in that list. I, for one, will not be singing my instructions out loud to anyone. However, there can be a happy tune in my heart while I lead a meeting or delegate tasks or help someone improve their performance.
With so many poor role models of leadership available to us through the media and maybe even in our own sphere, we have the perfect leadership guide available to us in print in the Bible and in our hearts with the Holy Spirit. Blessings on the way you DO leadership today!