When it comes to developing as a leader—specifically as a Christian leader—here are ten imperatives for development. Though not an exhaustive or infallible list, these challenges will help develop you as a leader.
- Follow first.
Follow Jesus above all. Jesus is the One who transforms our character. If your love for Him grows cold, your character will suffer, as will those you serve. Without Jesus, your leadership may be transactional, but it will not be transformational.
- Lead yourself.
The most difficult person to lead is yourself, but if you cannot lead yourself, how can you lead others? A lack of discipline in one area of your life will spill over to other areas.
- Set up chairs.
If you cannot set up chairs, you cannot be a leader. Christian leadership is about serving. If you are above setting up chairs and other tasks, you cannot and should not be a leader.
- Embrace pain.
Pain is inevitable and instructional. Because we live in a fallen world with broken people, there is great pain in leadership. Embrace the pain, and the Lord will use it to develop you.
- Submit to everyone.
Respect the leaders the Lord has placed over you, but also submit to those you have been asked to lead. Adjust to others as a servant. As you do, you will learn and grow from those you willingly place yourself under.
- Find a mentor.
Great leadership is often more caught than taught. Surround yourself with people whose lives challenge and encourage you.
- Read a lot.
John Wesley famously challenged Christian leaders to “read or get out of the ministry.” By reading, you surround yourself with great minds and great thinking. Read to develop yourself spiritually and mentally.
- Seek feedback.
Feedback helps you evaluate and adjust your own leadership. Continually ask for feedback from wise people who love you and the organization you are leading.
- Learn to lead by leading.
Quit waiting for the bigger assignment to prepare and develop; lead well in your current context and learn as you lead. Experience is the best leadership teacher you will have.
- Go home.
If you excel at work but fail to love and lead your family well, you put both in jeopardy. If you cannot manage your own house well, how can you lead others?