what it takes to be a great leader

Colette @ awriteheart.com[blockquote cite=”John Quincy Adams” type=”center”]If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.[/blockquote]I heard bickering and yelling from a group of little children to the left of me.  One of them shouted, “You’re not the boss of me!”  It made me smile thinking how this dance begins early in life. This leader/submission dance. We find ourselves both in leadership and in submission all throughout life. The greater responsibility in getting others to freely submit lies with the leaders behavior. Most leaders go about it all wrong, like the children I observed. They push and pull to get what they want. Leadership is meant to bring order but so often it yields the opposite. 90% of counseling is due to chaos of some sort: children not obeying, marriages failing to live out loving submission to each other and to God, employees and employers in conflict, families in confusion, and on and on.

It doesn’t matter how many people you lead – one or a thousand – these principles from God’s word will make you a great and successful leader, guaranteed.

Great leaders are humble.

[pullquote type=”right”]Pride cometh before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18[/pullquote]Just yesterday a college professor informed me that the majority of leaders struggle with unhealthy self-centeredness and pride.  I think of Saul and how he started out his leadership. He was humble and submitted to God. Then later in his  leadership journey he turned purely narcissistic, concerned for himself alone. In so doing he lost respect and power. And like all arrogant leaders his end came fast and hard.

Shortly after I received my counseling degree, I was offered a job. As I sat across from my new employer he said sincerely, “What can I do to make you successful? Whatever that is, I want to do that for you”. I have never forgotten that impactful, humble statement…and it was 20 years ago. I learned that a great leader is a humble leader.

Great leaders give.

[pullquote cite=”Jim Rohn” type=”right”]Leadership is action, not position.[/pullquote]For God so loved the world that He gave…The greatest leader of all gave. He poured his love, His kindness, His power, His purpose, His grace, His blessings, His mercy…on US. He gave His Son who gave His life for mankind. It’s easy to submit to God when we truly understand how much He gave. And when leaders do the same, give instead of take, they become GREAT leaders.

I received a card in the mail and inside was a rare $2 bill. It read, “Thank you for being an important part of our staff.  Your unique personality, skill, and dedication add so much to our team.” It was hand written and signed by my employer. It sits in the back of my dresser drawer and although it was 30 years ago,  I still remember. Giving can be in the form of a lot of things….appreciation being one of them. We don’t forget great leaders who give!

Great leaders are servants.

[pullquote cite=”Jim George, author” type=”right”]Serving others prepares you to lead others.[/pullquote]John 13:14 says ” If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.”  The principle of foot washing to the disciples of Jesus was this: Serve others and Jesus will serve you. The most high God, in the form of man, washing dirty feet?  It makes me shake my head in awe. Serving is true leadership. Leaders must not forget that without people there wouldn’t be leadership….and serving them brings natural and willing  submission. God’s way makes me smile…the way up is down, the first shall be last…give and you’ll receive. It may not always make sense but it’s true, great leaders are servants.

[pullquote cite=”Alan Woods, author” type=”right”]We all have been called to be foot washers.[/pullquote]My dad, in training for the Pastorate, was given a job to do.  He was asked by his pastor to clean the bathrooms of a school. For free. My dad did that for five straight years. He went week after week and I never heard him complain. After working a full time job, teaching karate, raising a family and going to school full time…He cleaned dirty, smelly toilets. His pastor, Les Hobbins, understood an amazing truth that he knew my dad would need to understand…Great leaders are truly servants.

Great leaders submit to God given authority.

[pullquote cite=”King David” type=”right”]Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. And see if there be any wicked way in me… [/pullquote]Every day of my life I pray King Davids words, Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. We are influenced by many things and can be tempted to loose sight of truth.  So often we don’t even see the intentions and impure motives of our own hearts. It doesn’t surprise me that David, a great leader who had fallen and rose up again, wrote these words. He understood that if he didn’t stay accountable to God, he would surely fall again. He understood that only God can keep our hearts clean and our spirits right.  If man chooses himself as his final authority he will certainly fail. I see clearly through Davids words, that he figured out the importance of submission to Gods authority.

In preparation for teaching, I wanted to understand what it is to be blind. Blind folded, with my husband as guide, we walked the entire mall and the parking lot. I trusted my husband completely because I knew that he could see what I could not.  I learned a lot that day and was able to make spiritual application to all of it. One being this: God sees what we cannot. I have no problem giving myself under the authority of a God who sees and knows all things. It’s the safest place to live out life. Great leaders certainly understand the importance of submitting to God, EL Roy, the Strong One who sees.

Great leaders are trustworthy and loyal.

[pullquote cite=”John Maxwell” type=”right”]Leaders must read the people, then lead the people. They must understand the timing, the people, the situation, and the priorities, then act accordingly. Their action depends upon how they read these factors.[/pullquote]Miriam was a leader in the Bible who had many good qualities. But the reason she was removed from leadership was because she spoke against her brother and was complaining to others. She stirred up trouble by not controlling her words. God, in a great example of wise leadership, took care of the problem by stopping the destructive dissension and removing its source, Miriam herself.

I have found it easy to submit to leaders in my life who are trustworthy, loyal and who speak kindly. And I have watched leaders handle discord and dissension both the right way and the wrong way…which leads me to ask for wisdom continually. The Bible tells us that if we ask God for wisdom he promises to give it to us in abundance. Great leaders need wisdom as much as they need air to breath. And they most certainly need it to be trustworthy & loyal problem solvers.

The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power, but love, not force, but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion.  Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve”.  ~John Stott, Christian theologian and ranked by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Let’s all strive to live out GREAT leadership…being humble, giving, trustworthy & loyal servants as we willingly submit ourselves to a Holy God.

[custom_headline type=”right” level=”h4″ looks_like=”h4″ accent=”true”]Make me a servant, Colette[/custom_headline]

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With each post we publish in July, Colette will add ONE MORE ITEM to this month’s giveaway! As of this post, the giveaway includes: 

Godiva Chocolates,
a SURPRISE gift from Anthropologie,
Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, and
Victoria’s Secret hair spray and leave-in conditioner!

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2 thoughts on “what it takes to be a great leader

  1. Wonderful, wise words. I had just a few bosses over my working years but the one who brought out the best in his employees was a great leader. There was nothing he asked of us that he wouldn’t also do. His kind-hearted leadership instilled loyalty among his employees. He also rewarded us with a generous bonus each year and when he sold his company he split the profits of the sale with his employees.

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