My mind and heart are flooded with so many things on the eve of our first Living Proof Live conference of 2018. Not only is it the beginning of another great year of ministry with LPL, but also it is our 20th anniversary year. Celebrating 20 years with a ministry feels strange. I still don’t feel old enough to have been doing anything for 20 years. But, here we are.
The miles that I have been fortunate enough to travel with Beth Moore as my leader are not literally countless, but the things I have gained from watching her leadership up close most certainly are.
When I began leading worship for Beth and this ministry along with LifeWay, I was a 28-year-old new husband and father who had never worked any job except for that of a free-lance musician and a sometimes-interim worship pastor. I had not given two thoughts to how to lead people. I don’t mean that in the context of worship leadership. I’m speaking of leading a ministry team. I had never considered myself a leader of people in any way.
After Faith Whatley at LifeWay called and asked if I would lead worship for Living Proof in the spring of 1998, I followed the normal steps I would always follow when preparing to lead worship. I called a team, made our music and travel plans, and showed up. I put on my worship leader khakis, loaded up my PowerPoint on a floppy disk, and headed to the event. By the grace of God and through no abilities that I offered, we made it through that first event, spirits soaring and blown away by the move of God we saw through His Spirit.
As one event led to another, and the months turned into years, God began to reveal to me that the things I was learning and the leadership principles I was seeing in action through Beth were not ordinary. On the contrary, they were quite extraordinary.
One of the most common questions I get about my time and experience with Beth is: “Is she the real deal? Is she the same in real life as she is on stage?” Of course anyone who has spent more than 30 seconds with Beth knows the answer is ABSOLUTELY. She is a gem of a person. Authentic to the core.
But what you may not see at first glance is that not only is she the best Bible teacher of our generation, she is also among the best leaders the church has ever had the privilege to boast as one of its own. And to say that I have learned and grown by watching her in action these 20 years is a gross understatement.
I’d like to tell you story after story and give you illustration after illustration of ways my team and I have seen her live out godly, effective leadership principles in everyday ministry. There are so many principles of leadership we have learned from serving with Beth these 20 years. I’ll give you three to consider now.
1. Kindness is a non-negotiable.
It is never OK to not be kind, not only to those with whom you lead, but also to those and about those whom you lead. In all of our moments with Beth, both private and public, not once has she ever uttered an unkind or defamatory word about anyone. On the contrary, she will put an end to any conversation that seems like it’s heading to a place where someone is the punchline. She just is not going to have it. Unkindness from our lips is not an option in any framework.
As a guy who loves to laugh, and sometimes allows humor to lead the way in conversation and fellowship, that is a lesson that, although sometimes hard to apply, has served me so well. I will never forget Beth telling us (I’m paraphrasing): “If someone is doing something wrong or crazy, let the Lord deal with them. He will. But it’s not going to fall on us to put them in their place by laughing at them. No sir.”
In a culture where leadership is all over the map, it bears emphasizing: Good leaders are always kind.