Good leadership relies on the same personal qualities that are nurtured by a Christian life. If you’re working hard to follow the pathway of Christ, you have the foundational characteristics to be a wise leader. Here you might be saying, “Wait! I know I could do better in my spiritual discipline, and I definitely don’t always feel wise!” Your humbleness and striving to improve are actually key to being a good leader, so you’re already on your way. Here are some of those habits of leadership which characterize the deepest Christian values:
Complete honesty, within yourself and before God, is fundamental for all followers of Christ. You must be able to view yourself objectively and acknowledge all the areas in which you still need to grow. Similarly, in leadership positions, you must show others your true self, and speak truthfully. This kind of transparent authenticity is one of the most important qualities in a leader as well as in a Christian. CEO Magazine calls honesty “the single most important leadership value.” They cite research that shows only 20 percent of people trust business leaders to speak the truth, and they note that this dismal statistic is evidence of a “crisis in leadership.” Against a backdrop of such low expectations, your honest approach will build trust among your congregants.
Of course, it’s central to have compassion for those in need — but you can’t put that kindness into action until you listen to people’s deepest stories. You already know this: Every church leader has people turn up at their door, troubled and in need of counseling. This same ability to listen is central to wise leadership. Harvard Business Review calls listening to an “overlooked leadership tool,” and notes that it creates an environment of safety, and allows more “spaciousness” to be built into your day. Listening to the needs and opinions of all stakeholders means that you’ll be aware of multiple viewpoints, and will, therefore, make better strategic decisions.
Here’s something to consider: “The aim of the great leader is not to get people to think more highly of the leader. It's to get people to think more highly of themselves.” This is a secular quote, from business coach Bob Moawad, but it has a connection to authentic Christianity. How many Bible verses guide us in putting the needs and interests of others before our own? If you set aside your own pride, and don’t become infatuated with your own status, your power as a leader will grow.
Faith is fundamental to organizational success, just as much as it is to our personal spiritual lives. As a church leader, of course, you have faith in God. But you have to spread that faith a bit farther: You need faith in yourself, your mission, and your community. An article in Business News Daily puts it this way: “When leaders believe in their employees and give them the opportunity to learn and grow, they might be surprised how much they can accomplish.”
Proverbs 12:27 says, “Diligence is man’s precious possession.” Christianity is not an easy path; those who follow the Lord’s example must be constantly conscientious. This same earnest effort applies to leadership as well: As a leader, you’re not the one who goes home early or takes lots of vacations. Indeed, you may end up working longer hours than anyone on your team. (Actually, research finds that CEOs do end up working long hours: about 62.5 hours per week, on average.)
As a church leader, you’re in a great position to demonstrate the enormous power of Christ’s example. By relying on His virtues, you will build trust among your church community, and effectively achieve whatever practical and financial goals you set.