I work with Christian leaders around North America and in my work the thing that gets most of them off-track, stuck and confused is the simple questions of “ am I doing what I am supposed to be doing? Am I really in the right place? and Is it possible to have a job doing what I love to do?” In short, what they are saying is I do not have an effective filter to evaluate these questions. They realize whether they are doing very well or not well at all the questions persist. In fact, they unconsciously have had multiple and varying filters of success they have relied upon in the past and now this ethereal framework is failing them. Often this feelings is voiced, “ I always thought if I accomplished… I would feel good about what I am doing.” Or “ I feel like I am spinning my wheels and getting no results.”
Without a biblical leadership understanding what we do is replace this needful understanding of leader development with one or often many of our own. Theses competing theories come from the world, our parents, our culture, etc…
A few examples to flesh out what I am saying:
Young leaders often don’t understand the first foray into leading is ministry assignments, which will be used to shape and mold them for future ministry. The result is that failure takes on too powerful a reaction. Their filter is failure is bad/ungodly and success is good. Two major problems – what they define as success is not congruent with biblical principles rather it tends to reflect the world, the culture, and what the majority believes to be successful. Secondly, what exactly is biblical success – does it include failure? Did Jesus fail in his leadership of Judas?
Middle game leaders who have done well and are looking at the next thing often think they must move “up the ladder” if they are in youth ministry they need to get ordained, if they are an assistant they must become a lead pastor, if they were in a certain size church they must move to a larger sized church etc… The results of such decisions are often unfulfilling, painful, and even strong faith challengers. The middle game is usually about two main themes. One god wants you to get clarity about who you are in Christ. What are your gifts, abilities, and passions? What are your weaknesses, your struggles? Secondly the middle game moves from ministry assignments to character growth and investing in spiritual authority not more tasks in which to be successful.
The older leaders as they head towards the end of full time paid ministry look at retirement as an end game strategy or conversely, hold on too long because they don’t know how to transition. They do not know what filter to use for finishing well. The major issue is often the inability or lack of confidence that they can continue to lead without positional authority. They need help venturing into a place of leading strictly from spiritual authority
I mentioned these few examples to have you think about the bigger questions. Clearly this blog cannot capture a fully developed leadership theory but hopefully you are thinking about the questions: What is my leadership development theory? Can I actually articulate clearly what I think God is shaping me to do and be? Who is out there helping me figure this out? Chances are you don’t know the answers to these questions.