“If you wish to enrich days, plant flowers; if you wish to enrich years, plant trees; if you wish to enrich eternity, plant ideals in the lives of others.” – S. Truett Cathy, founder Chick-fil-A
“…and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel.” – Judges 2:10
Leadership is not a spectator sport. It requires your participation, as by example, leaders put flesh on their visions and values. And how you live your life determines whether others want to trust and follow you.
One of the greatest overriding needs for leaders is to multiply themselves to the next generation. Leadership is like a relay race in which you pass the baton to the next runner. But the next runner can’t run unless there’s been a clean handoff. And so it’s difficult for the next generation to live lives of character or integrity unless they’ve been taught character and integrity. We can’t be neutral – either morally or spiritually – as our lives stamp others with an indelible impression.
As leaders, our legacy remains long after our deeds or accomplishments are forgotten. Because of this, we need to live intentional lives. So what’s required for intentional leadership? Here are five principles:
Convictions are those boundaries that establish your reference point for all decisions and actions. You cannot impart to others what you do not possess. You can’t give away that which is not part of your own life. Convictions determine your goals and objectives. They serve as a criterion or standard for actions, not just a diet of hazardous junk food but those determined by absolute convictions.
The 19th century diplomat and political figure, Charles Frances Adams, entered into his diary, “Went fishing with my son today – a day wasted.” His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary. On that very same day, he made this entry: “Went fishing with my father – the most wonderful day of my life.” Legacies are built upon the foundation of relationships, which translated means time, availability, and involvement.
Despite all your good ideas, intentions, and plans, you must have the focus and clarity of putting your priorities into action.
French essayist Joseph Joubert wrote, “Children need models more than they need critics.” This is also true of leaders and followers. Leaders link truth with life. As leaders, we must develop a seamless integration of faith with life. This is character on display in the routines of life. When asking others to change, it’s not enough to deliver an inspirational speech or a moving talk. People are moved not only by inspirational words, but by actions.
No matter how difficult the challenge may be, your leadership must be marked by devotion. Despite the difficulty, don’t ever give up. It’s hard work to live an intentional life, but it’s worth it both now and for eternity.
Dr. John Geddie went to Aneityum in 1848 and worked for 24 years as a missionary. On the monument erected to his memory, these words are inscribed:
When he landed, in 1848, there were no Christians,
When he left, in 1872, there were no heathen.
What will your tombstone say? For what will you be remembered?
The true measure of leadership is not found in positions or titles, lists of impressive accomplishments, or a wall full of certificates. The long-term impact of your leadership will not be found in programs or procedures but in the lives that you touch.
As leaders, it is our privileged responsibility to touch future generations. The ultimate commentary on your leadership will be written in the hearts and lives of those you have impacted.
Stay the Course,
Dr. Greg Morris