Everyone is a leader. All leaders can become better leaders.

The New Testament’s #1 rule of a great leader is learning to be led. A leader can’t lead unless they have learned to be led.

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons and daughters of God.  Romans 8:14

Following Jesus is being led. Learning to listen, hearing the Shepherd’s voice, a willingness to count the cost, and follow. A great leader has learned to follow the Spirit.

I’ve read Maxwell, Drucker, Stanley, Blackaby, Collins, Adizes, Barna and dozens more.  There are about 15,000 books on leadership currently in print (only English). Few can read them all.

But all of them must acquiesce to the most important principle on leadership:

My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  John 10:27

Without Jesus, without the Spirit, without the Father, leadership becomes worldly wisdom, too often self-indulgent and promoting, while lacking the humility to lead godly change.

“Follow me” without learning to follow the Spirit becomes the blind leading the blind.  Plenty – too many – examples of this leadership style are in the news today.

Below are my top five indicators that you and I follow the Spirit:

  1. You learn to test the spirits before making strong statements of direction. Someone who says, “The Lord told me!” is delusional unless they walk in accountable relationships.
  2. You have blood, water, and Spirit experience. One of the best leadership passages in the Bible is 1 John 5:6-8, “…because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify; the Spirit and the water and the blood.” Leadership is equal parts submission, power, and suffering.
  3. You know God gives a gift, the ministry for that gift, and causes the effectiveness of that ministry. A great leader has a sense of peace and the ease of not striving. Carefully read 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.
  4. You know that God is both good and great. Those who follow the Spirit learn that God is good and powerful. Even though He doesn’t always answer prayer according to our desires, the lack of answer creates a deeper trust. Those who follow the Spirit trust deeply and inspire others to trust their leadership.
  5. You know who to lead and who to avoid. Thousands followed Jesus. Jesus chose 12. You have a limited time for effective leadership. A leader chooses other great leaders to disciple.

The five above are not techniques but authentic leading. The principle of “follow my example” created by these principles will duplicate into the lives of others.

Paul writes, “Each one’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed by fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each one’s work.” (1 Corinthians 3:13)

I think the greatest tragedy for any leader, would be spending 48 years leading in one location (or even five years) and finding out through the testing of fire that it’s all wood, hay, and stubble.

Come on COVID. Step up politics. I’m being led… how about you?

Following the Spirit withstands the heat.