It always comes back to balance, doesn't it?
So why don't more Christian leaders practice balance BEFORE it's too late? Why do we possess a pattern of waiting until AFTER a crash to confess having denied seeing the warning signals? What if you and I are in not seeing the waning signals in our lives NOW?
In my work developing leaders, I've noticed that there are four “corners” where young leaders are drawn. All four are necessary, in my opinion, for healthy leadership, but all four are needed for balance. Each become a place of retreat, a tempting refuge to avoid pain or discomfort in the other three corners.
Which of these four are you doing well? Which might be getting less attention, if any?
- Sacred rhythms. I think this is under-served in social media discussions on Christian leadership to our detriment. It's almost as if we assume a vital spiritual life is present in a Christian leader's life. It's not. As I stated earlier, too often we discover after a crisis, that the sacred rhythms had been silenced and the spiritual life had dried and crumbled over time. We need to regularly engage with God in our lives, to draw close to Him in truth not in theory. We can't afford to let our discipline fade here like we do with working out or expressing love to others. In our busy-ness, we Christian leaders can't afford to just give God a wave as we skip out the door to a coffee shop or meeting.
- Entrepreneurial savvy. We've exalted this quality over all others now in Christian leadership. It IS necessary (and my podcast focuses on related themes), but the church has subsequently tossed theological depth to the side in favor of leadership skills. We favor attributes that resemble a CEO or a startup entrepreneur. In an age where the criticism of churches is that there isn't a clear path for discipleship, nor is there evidence of theological development and biblical literacy in our people, perhaps we've swung the pendulum too far here? Because….
- A shepherd's heart. … this is the analogy that the Bible uses for “pastor.” And I think it's applicable to all Christians who lead. Parents, supervisors, teachers, and youth workers all lead in holistic ways that resemble the care and guidance a shepherd provides to sheep.
The analogy you have in your mind regarding your leadership (“It's like being a farmer. I'm growing up young Christ-followers”) makes a difference in how you lead. If you think your leadership is so innovative that you're “going where no leader has gone before,” you're like an astronaut. What would it look like for you today, tomorrow, and this week if you were to lead more like a shepherd? What would change? How might that help? What would it limit, if anything?
- Clarity in communicating. Gosh, really, I continue to be amazed how rare this is in places I assume it to be good. It is seemingly difficult to pull off in groups and organizations. In my consulting with others, this is often one of our most helpful functions we provide as we align people toward a common goal or mission. Here's a quick fix you can do in the next 15 minutes: Email or ask this question to three trusted people around you: “I want to make sure we are as clear in our communication as possible. What are 1-2 ways I can make sure that is happening?” Their answers won't be threatening and they will enlighten you as to what you're doing well and where you can be clearer. And you and your people will work better because of it.
If you want balance, these are four areas that will need your attention. Of course, these are the four I came up with. You may have a different group. I know you've likely thought of one or two additional ones. I'd love to hear about them!
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