5 Things Leaders Should Build

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It was 1996 when I first thought about leadership development. A throw away question in a youth leaders meeting about how to invest in a bunch of younger leaders triggered something in me. Since then I have read myriads of books, attended umpteen conferences and listened to a boat load of messages and podcasts too.

Everyone has an opinion about leadership so I know what I am about to write will not be considered original or particularly controversial.

LEADERS ARE BUILDERS.

Building is hard work but rewarding. Building is about the future and not just about today. Building changes the landscape and creates the culture within it.

BE A LEADER WHO BUILDS. And spend your energy on building the right things. Build those things that have an eternal value and an eternal mark on them.

1. BUILD CHARACTER. We can build a great life but it can just become a monument to a failed individual if we don’t build the character to go with the talent and opportunity God brings our way. Character keeps us and protects us.

2. BUILD OTHERS. Leaders serve others. We don’t build ourselves for ourselves. We build ourselves so we can pass on what we learn and experience to others following in our footsteps or working alongside us.

3. BUILD A LEGACY. We build with generations in mind. Build something which last beyond your own lifetime, something you have to pass on to the next generation. Like the cathedral builders from the past who gave their all to build way into the future

4. BUILD SLOWLY. Good builders understand it takes time for what they are building. Build in a hurry and you may build for failure. Instead, decide to become a master build, commit to the long haul and build a life of substance, one others would want to follow.

5. BUILD EXCELLENTLY. Build well. Give it your best attention. Care. Make it count. Jesus spoke about how a good builder considers the cost, lays a proper foundation, and only starts what they know can be finished.

Lets be great Christian leaders who are willing to give everything to build the right kind of life for Jesus. One thing is certain, building such a life is the most rewarding kind of life.

Let me know what you think about this idea of being a builder? What are the challenges to developing such an attitude towards life?

Stop Making It All About You

To lead well in life is to be a person who lives with an attitude on not making everything about ourselves. To stop making ‘me’ the centre of everything.

People who lead well in life are the ones who have made the decision to not be led by emotions, by opinion or by circumstances. Instead they are led by values, convictions and character. 

Phrases that could be thought of as ‘below the line’ are significant by their absence in a great leaders life. 

That’s not my job. 

I’m not happy with the decisions being made. 

I’m being ignored. 

I don’t like the way I’m being treated. 

I can’t work with them. 

They didn’t acknowledge me. 

I haven’t been thanked for ages. 

Leading well in life is about more than position, it’s about me as a person. Yes, I need to demonstrate some competencies but how I demonstrate them is often of greater importance. 

Let’s be leaders who think carefully how we speak, think and feel and work at removing any below the line attitudes which can make everything about us. 

Just some thoughts – tell me what you think. 

Stretch Yourself

To lead well in life is to know how to stretch ourself. It can be one of the biggest frustrations as we learn to lead well in life. 

It’s about being happy and content with where we are but actively stretching ourself for the future we want. We have to learn to live in the now while preparing ourselves for the future. 

It’s about working hard and being loyal to those who lead us but stretching ourself and becoming the person we need to be for all that lies ahead. If we only live for a certain future we may begin to resent where we are now and become unhappy, angry and overly cynical too. 

It is to understand that the stretch you want will not always come from others, instead you learn to develop, grow, stretch and increase your capacity. We do need to be equipped by our leaders but our personal development is (obviously) our own responsibility. 

It’s about learning how to create your own stretch. Even if it doesn’t lead to greatness or the opportunity you want, that is irrelevant. In the process of the stretch you will have become a bigger person. Then God can use you anywhere, not just in the place of our own choosing.

What do you do to help stretch yourself?

Do I Have a Willingness?

Following Jesus is the best decision I ever made. Following Jesus is also the toughest decision I ever made. Following Jesus isn’t easy. To live according to His words isn’t easy.

Here’s a bunch of questions I often ask myself, in one form or another. How about you?

Do I have a willingness to change?

Do I have a willingness to allow God to change me?

Do I have a willingness to participate?

Do I have a willingness to participate in the places where God wants me to?

Do I have a willingness to follow?

Do I have a willingness to go wherever knowing Jesus may take me?

Do I have a willingness to lay aside my plans?

Do I have a willingness to not try and fit God into my plans but trust Him instead?

Do I have a willingness to forego?

Do I have a willingness to forego my opinions?

Do I have a willingness to pray?

Do I have a willingness to pray without ceasing?

Do I have a willingness to forgive?

Do I have a willingness to forgive even though it hurts?

Do I have a willingness to be led?

Do I have a willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit?

Do I have a willingness to be led by the leaders God has placed in their role?

Do I have a willingness to trust?

Do I have a willingness to trust God in ALL things?

I guess I could keep going. What would you add to the list?

My October Reading

The L Factor by Ian Jagelman. I heard him teach this and thought it was genius then. Reading it just reminded how important understanding this stuff really is. His basic premise ‘ministry builds people but leadership builds people’.

Worth a read for the 5 levels of leadership, the process of helping people progress along the leadership journey. It has certainly encouraged me to think more strategically. If the structure is right, then growth can occur because people are not only being released into ministry but they are also being developed as leaders too.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward De Bono. Didn’t know what to expect from this book. I had heard about it and was intrigued about this new approach to facilitating meetings. It seems so simple. Can it really make such a significant impact as described in the book?

The premise of parallel thinking as opposed to the more argumentative model that happens in meetings is easy to understand. The aim of focusing everyone on the same type of thinking means you don’t jump around, it’s not a battle ground, it’s less about who shouts the loudest. Plus everyone gets a chance to speak and offer thoughts. Creativity can increase. Problems can still be raised. Decisions can be reached faster, which means a better, more efficient use of time too. Looking forward to trying it out. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson. Was keen to read this book after reading Primal and I wasn’t disappointed. The to be on a wild goose chase speaks of not really knowing where you are going and that is a great picture of living life being led by the spirit.

My life is not one of great adventure. I don’t feel that I have done any great feats yet. Reading the book certainly challenged me to become more determined to live life being on a wild goose chase. To allow God to take me where He needs to go. To let go of my plans and trust God more. To be willing to let go of an old identity in order to take on a new one. Makes me wonder where I might end up and what I’ll look like when I get there.

Building a Strategic Church by David Beer. I am naturally a thinker. I am more introvert, analytical and prone to planning. I don’t mind systems and processes. Due to this, I really enjoyed this book.

David Beer brings all his experience as a local church pastor in the UK to the table and shares a whole bunch of ideas that can help any leader to think more strategically. Loved the statement – ‘The church that doesn’t care who gets the credit, as long as people are ministered to in the name of Christ, is the strategic church and the church that God uses.’

The Empowered Church by Ian Jagelman. Leadership v Ministry is always an intriguing balancing act. Often the things that we enjoy doing as Pastors are more ministry based, the tougher stuff is more the leadership aspect. Both are important but one builds people, the other builds the church.

This made the whole issue of building the right kind of leadership team a higher priority. Ian Jagelman talks how the leadership team must be equally committed to a common task, goal and working approach. That each person must not be heard saying ‘this does not relate to me.’ If this is the case then you just have a working group, not a team. That’s a challenge when many are prioritising their own area of ministry but then that’s not the only thing you are looking for.

I would happily recommend all these books. Get your copies here.

What I’ve Been Reading…

Sticky Teams by Larry Osborne. Really enjoyed Sticky Church so had high expectations for this. It is with regret that I was somewhat disappointed. That’s not to say that what is spoken of in the book isn’t helpful & instructive.

Two things which I will remember:
When it comes to leadership – insist on spiritual maturity. Sometimes we can be so desperate for new teams that we forget to look for the qualities spoken of in the Bible. On reflection, maybe we choose the line of least resistance rather than asking the difficult questions.

Secondly, I loved the letter that Larry ‘maybe’ sent to someone about giving. Priceless. And definitely the way many Pastors and Leaders would love to speak. Interesting though how we often react to people incorrectly without gathering all the facts first. Extremely useful practices to remember.

Vintage Church by Mark Driscoll. This was another book that I had high expectations for, because Vintage Jesus has become such a useful resource for me. Thankfully, the book did not let me down.
Let’s be honest – who am I to critique Mark Driscoll who is after all the ‘ultimate’ teacher.

The simplest thing to say is – great questions and great answers. I know that I will use this resource over and over again.

A definite addition to any church leaders bookshelf.

59 Seconds by Professor Richard Wiseman. Absolutely loved this book. Full of useful tools that can help you understand yourself, others and how to get the most from life. Plus they only take 59 seconds.

We enjoyed measuring our fingers to discover the masculine/feminine traits that may mean we display.
We learnt that having a plant pot in the office boosts creativity.
We discovered that you should close your eyes when asking questions of people to fins out if they are liars.

I even learnt about something called the pratfall effect. This was a fun and informative read. Definitely worth a look.

Your Secret Name by Kary Oberbrunner. I won this from a twitter contest. The title intrigued me.

I enjoyed the journey that Kary took me on and how he entwined his journey with that of Jacob. The struggles and pains. The way God is always there leading us to the point of discovery, to the Secret Name that only He can speak over you. An easy read, very honest, and because of that, extremely encouraging.

[What have you been reading lately?]