The Tests of Authentic Leadership
The Tests of Authentic Leadership
Your Leadership Will Be Tested - It Is Inevitable and Essential
Christians who are leaders (in church, business, public/community life, school, home) have advantages, but face pressures and carry burdens that others do not see. Many feel lonely; some find it difficult to have friendships with people who do not have the same world view. Their values and beliefs are challenged. All come under attack from time to time. As a result, some end up "derailed". How we respond to leaders who fall/burn out is a measure of our growth and strength of community. We must be redemptive, while not evading the reality of what people choose and experience, in the same way that Jesus and the first Christians did (Luke 22:31-32; Galatians 6:1-5).
It can be difficult for a Christian who is a leader to deal with pressures, because expectations of their output are high and there are many "pot holes". That goes with the territory. Where moral failure is involved, the road back is tougher in the church than the secular environment (Luke 12:48; 1 Corinthians 4:1, 2). Scandals draw attention to the humanity of Christians in leadership, against the backdrop of standards everyone expects in their personal lives. Some "good leaders" quit because they run out of steam, or find it difficult to cope with change.
Leadership is a privilege. The impacts of derailment are severe: experienced people side-lined, failed relationships, opportunities missed, alienation, financial loss, disunity. As your leadership is tested (it will be) allow God to challenge, teach and strengthen you, and give you wisdom and capacity to continue to serve Him and touch lives. Get close to people who will stand by you, draw from their wisdom and support. Never give up. Likewise, support leaders you know who face similar challenges.
21 Tests of Effective Leadership -- by Larry Kreider
- The Calling Test: An effective leader will discover his calling and trust God to manifest it.
- The Humility Test: Effective leaders give credit to others.
- The Teamwork Test: An effective leader finds a way for his team to win.
- The Releasing Test: An effective leader knows how to empower others.
- The Priorities Test: An effective leader determines what his priorities are in life.
- The Transition Test: An effective leader understands and leads the process of change.
- The Criticism Test: An effective leader accepts criticism and grows in the process.
- The Dependency Test: An effective leader depends on help from God.
- The Conflict Test: An effective leader embraces healthy confrontation.
- The Vision Test: Effective leaders inspire and articulate a vision and bring others with them.
- The Love Test: An effective leader makes decisions motivated by love.
- The Integrity Test: Effective leaders are the same in public as in private.
- The Security Test: Effective leaders find security in who they are, not in what they do.
- The Grace Test: Effective leaders know success depends on the grace of God. (Not human effort, cf Ephesians 2:8-10)
- The Expectations Test: Effective leaders avoid unmet expectations
- The Finance Test: Effective leaders take fiscal responsibility for their mission.
- The Comparison Test: Effective leaders only compare up.
- The Perseverance Test: Effective leaders refuse to quit!
- The Success Test: Effective leaders never forget where they came from
- The Timing Test: Effective leaders understand times and seasons.
- The Kingdom Test: Effective leaders focus on the eternal Kingdom.
- The Visceral Test: Effective leaders deal with emotions (anger, disappointment, frustration, impatience, greed, pride, lust) that spring up, in a godly way.
- The Substance Test: Effective leaders are real, not just froth and bubble, huff and puff; full of vain or hasty promises; they feel what others do; they are substantial and intentional. The ungodly lack substance (Psalm 1:4).
- The Distraction Test: Effective leaders are not side-tracked by their opponents (cf Nehemiah 6:3, 4).
- The Godward Test: Effective leaders pray (Psalm 109:4b). Jesus taught His disciples how to pray and be spiritually renewed.
An effective Christian leader maintains a Christian world view in a non-Christian workplace.
A Personal Inventory
|What Can Derail a Christian in Leadership?
- is this a potential issue for me?
- what safeguards can I adopt?
|moral failure (eg David's adultery with Bathsheba, 2 Samuel 11)
family break-down (David's family was divided as a result of his own sin, 2 Samuel 12:10)
other relationship failures (Absalom's betrayal, 2 Samuel 15; cf Psalm 41:9, 55:12-14)
financial problems (Judas, John 12:26)
persecution arising from Christian faith (Mark 4:17)
loss of faith/belief
sickness or personal tragedy
competition and exaggeration (Absalom, 2 Samuel 15:4)
doubt or pessimism about God's "call" to a particular work/role (Jeremiah, 20:9)
lack of care in legal matters, leading to exposure and risk
physical/mental exhaustion due to stress, deadlines, discouragement, (Moses, Genesis 18:18), feeling lack of support (Psalm 69:20)
neglect of personal spiritual walk - it is hard to give what we do not have, difficult to grow when we are ignoring our spiritual welfare
loneliness (Elijah, 1 Kings 19:10); feeling unappreciated (Psalm 35:13, 14)
independence (can lead to pride, errors, 1 John 2:19; Saul's impatience > rebellion, 1 Samuel 13)
addiction to power, roles, praise, money
compassion fatigue - taking on everyone else's problems and not knowing how to "let go"
giving the world priority in our lives (Demas, 2 Timothy 4:10)
inability to cope with criticism and close scrutiny by others
believing people's rhetoric ("You are so good!"), dismissing negative feedback (Ahab, 1 Kings 22)
indecision, leading to bad decisions (or decision paralysis)
fear to obey God's way (Jonah 1:3)
carelessness/apathy in a sinful environment (Lot establishing himself in Sodom, Genesis 19:1)
Your character must support the gifts of God in your life.
Character is not what you do, but who you are, when you are by yourself, under fire, tempted financially, morally, ethically, or otherwise, but do not yield.
- commit your life and leadership to Christ and seek Him first for His own sake, to fulfil His will and purpose
- set up a daily personal devotion and stick to it - your strongest refuge is God
"No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it. (1 Corinthians 10:13, The Message)
- pay attention when your mind or body say "Stop!"
- take holidays - be refreshed physically, spiritually and mentally; Jesus practised taking "time out" without feeling guilty (Mark 6:31)
- be careful with "self-talk", so as to avoid boastfulness, over-confidence, negativity, self-condemnation, panic
- don't trust your heart/emotions; they can trick you (Jeremiah 17:9)
- if/when things go wrong, do not relate "out of hurt" or defensiveness
- read books, watch DVDs, listen to CDs that inform and encourage; don't stagnate
- be uncompromising about what you allow yourself to view on the Internet or television, especially when travelling
- keep physically fit and look after your health
Relating to Others
- maximise your marriage and family - quarantine time for them alone
- shield your spouse and children from unnecessary pressures
- surround yourself with good people (Proverbs 11:14; 15:22; 24:6)
- find two or three reliable friends of character, of the same sex, and work hard on those relationships; build up one another mutually
- honour team members; do not alienate them
- pull yourself up when you find yourself blaming others - give close friends permission to tell you when they find you doing so
- build integrity into your leadership; if you lose you integrity you lose much (cf Psalm 78:72)
- keep good records of events, places, names, issues - you never know when you are going to need the facts; pay attention to detail, ensure records are secure
- develop a budget, live within your means (Proverbs 30:8, 9), pay bills promptly
- watch your time, so that your schedule/workload do not become unrealistic or overwhelming; plan and deliver against goals, or drop some things
- share the load and develop others to help you do so > think Next Gen
Lifestyle Approaches to Prevent Derailment - "If the cap fits...."
- remember that (ultimately) your calling, gifting come from God, not people (2 Corinthians 4:1)
- define the calling/gifts God has given you (1 Timothy 4:14) and don't compare yourself with others (2 Corinthians 10:12)
- set clear boundaries around your time and availability; learn how to say "No"
- keep reminding yourself that "ministry" means "service", not position or control (Galatians 6:9)
- create a culture of "openness" with other leaders
- be aware of personal risk areas - and develop risk management strategies
- guard team unity
- be wary when everyone seems to be speaking well of you (Luke 6:26)
- foster trusting relationships with friends who will tell you what you need to know about yourself
- develop a strong "accountability" regime; be willing to submit to others (even those "beneath" you)
- don't take praise too much to heart (Isaiah 42:8)
- be humble; ultimately it is not about you; leaders who display genuine humility are prepared to stand in line, help stack chairs, get down to where others are to help them, wash feet and do other tasks assigned to servants
- be wary of people who try to "use" you for their own agendas
- do not depend excessively on people's support, faithfulness to your vision
- seek out those who will encourage you in a godly way, regardless of what you are going through (we all need daily encouragement - Hebrews 3:13)
- don't be over-confident in your moral infallibility - have safeguards (1 Corinthians 10:12)
- keep a forgiving spirit in all your relationships - don't let lack of forgiveness, smouldering resentment or anger become corrosive or traps (2 Corinthians 2:10, 11)
- be on guard against spiritual attack (1 Peter 5:8)
- keep around people of integrity, who have high moral standards and no margins for compromise (1 Corinthians 15:33), but are motivated by love
- reaffirm your confidence in God alone to keep you (1 Corinthians 10:2) and give you favour (Proverbs 12:2)
- when people blame you for events beyond their/your control, encourage yourself in God's faithfulness (David at Ziklag, 1 Samuel 30:6)
- take advantage of opportunities for spiritual "renewal" (2 Corinthians 4:16)
- spend as much time as you can with your family - don't neglect them, no matter how much other people demand your time and energy
- don't over-extend yourself financially
- watch your public integrity (1 Timothy 3:7)
- celebrate all who have God-given capacities for ministry and avoid hierarchy
- avoid wasting time in unnecessary/unfruitful arguments with others (Nehemiah 6:1-3)
- learn to delegate - if you are unsure seek the help of someone who can watch you and make recommendations (Moses and Jethro, Genesis 18:19-26)
- learn how to hear the Holy Spirit and keep a diary of what God is saying to you
- obey the leading of the Holy Spirit, every time, and develop a life of submission and trust in God
- when you feel like panicking, try "resting" in God and handing over your burdens to him (Psalm 55:22) - He has promised to "sustain" (maintain, support, nourish) you
- talk to someone you trust about what you are feeling and going through (in some cases, this may be a professional Christian counsellor, or your doctor)
- accept that others will let you down, for a range of reasons, despite their best intentions
- if God's plan is for you not to be in charge, accept it graciously (John the Baptist, John 3:26-30)
- keep "short accounts" with God; confess sin in your life, repent & break it before it overtakes you