How many of us are taking walks in children’s ministry? After some self-evaluation, I had to deal with my own leadership inadequacies. I’ve determined that effective leaders have seven attributes.
Effective leaders …
- Listen. Practice L.B.W.A.—Leadership By Walking Around. Always listen to what’s going on around you—not just verbally but nonverbally. James 1:19 says: “My dear brothers and sisters, always be willing to listen and slow to speak. Do not become angry easily.”
- Endure. I’m talking about the long haul. Many children’s ministers resign their positions because they let the pressure get to them, or they don’t want to confront a difficult issue. Remember that a problem doesn’t get solved until it gets faced.
- Advance. Leaders are always learning. Advance by reading books, listening to tapes and reading magazines. If you’re coasting in your personal growth, you’re going downhill because you can’t coast uphill. Effective leaders are also advancing those around them. Empower, mentor and coach others to reach their full potential. Read 1 Peter 5:2-6 about the role of a leader. The sheep don’t exist for the shepherd, but rather the shepherd exists for the sheep. Invest yourself in others.
- Direct. Leaders need to know where they’re going. If not, then how can anyone follow? Remember to initiate an opportunity for growth for people, designate responsibility, motivate them to do their best, elevate their performance, celebrate victories with them and evaluate their effectiveness. Leaders do what’s right, not what’s popular.
- Empower. In John 21:15-17, Jesus has an empowering encounter with Peter. From this passage, here are practical observations for our leadership: Empowering people involves personal involvement, personal preparation, personal risk and personal faithfulness. You have to get personal with the people you lead!
- Relate. Romans 12:15 says to “rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” When relating to others, sometimes you have to feel their pain. It goes beyond sympathy to empathy.
- Serve. What Jesus sees as a leader is different from what we think of as a leader. Jesus said, “The first will be last,” “Consider others more important than yourself” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Leaders are always full of praise and always growing. They’re consumed by their dreams and exist to make others better than themselves. Above all, a leader is a servant.
Craig Jutila is the founder of Empowering Kids.