Three Rules of Long-Term Leadership

Whenever I discuss leadership, I always think: “Follow what I say and not what I do.” I try, I fail, and God forgives.

Hebrews 13:7 explains how to learn leadership: “Remember those who lead you, who spoke the word of God to you, and considering the result of their faith, imitate their faith.”

I’ve learned leadership by observing good and bad leaders, and by watching leaders who had a mixture of both good and bad. While following, I’m still responsible for my own leadership style. I watch others and discern what I should take and also leave behind.

After 48 years of being led, leading, observing, and journaling my successes and failures, I’ve come down with three rules of Long-Term Leadership. I pray that you have more success than failure following them:

Rule #1.  Be apostolic! This was a hard lesson for me to learn since I grew up in a denomination that did not believe in present day apostles. I’m not talking about the “big 12” original apostles but the Ephesians 4 equipping-and-releasing type of leader.  Apostolic leadership enjoys releasing others into ministry more than building glorifying self-ministry.

Rule #2.  Find a place for other leaders. Some leaders chase away other leaders. Not threatened or jealous, great leaders find a way to work with other great leaders. I want other leaders more talented than me to be in the organizations that I lead. Sometimes this means that I move over and get out of the way.

Rule #3.  Do it yourself before you ask others. It’s more than setting an example; it’s a lifestyle. Others follow lifestyle more than step-by-step example. If I have had years of early morning prayer and Bible study, the Spirit will be able to imprint devotions in the lives of others. If I take the lead with financial sacrifice (maybe not as much money but with as much sacrifice), the Spirit will be able to sanctify generosity in those that I lead.

In my early years of leadership, I had two mentors. One mentor, who was very wise, was controlling. I followed his example in observing his discipline and passion for sharing the peace of Jesus in evangelism. But I also decided that I never, ever wanted to hinder another’s ministry because of my own insecurity.

The other mentor – a noted author and Bible translator – heard that I had a small chapter published in a book. He called me into his office at the seminary that I attended – an office lined with his authored books and published articles – and spent 40 minutes reading my chapter and commenting on how much he enjoyed my writing.

That kernel of thought – that my writing could impress someone who could write – has sat in the back of my mind for the past 45 years. With children, ministry, missions, being a pastor, I thought was lost.

It takes daily discipline to write well. When the COVID crisis hit, the Lord told me to start writing; to be a good steward of content that He had already provided and that He would continue to provide.

I started writing and this is Interruption #138.

Writing, ministry, and leading are not about success, but faithfulness. It is not important that thousands read Interruptions; it is important that I write them.

It started when someone said to me, “I enjoy your writing.”

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