In our lifetime, the church has experienced several changes. Some changes have been good and some destructive. While changes occur today, it is safe to say, more changes will come.
Paul Harvey said, “In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.”
Solomon originally expressed it this way, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Leaders will always face challenges. It may be a different generation, culture, gender, age, or time of day, but challenges will come.
Let us seek God’s counsel and listen to His word. Here we will find the true answers to solve these challenges.
Wandering in desert places does not appeal to most. Yet, many leaders wander because lack the vision to lead people in the direction they ought to go, and this is their role.
Rosalynn Carter said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”
We need great leaders in the home, our world, and the church. Too many only take people where they want to go. Let us arise to the challenge and become the great leaders God requires in every area of life.
One critical challenge for leaders exists in the arena of delegating.
Robert Half said, “Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.” The effectiveness of delegating occurs when we lead by example.
Jesus demonstrated this thought with the apostles.
The apostles followed by setting their own example.
Christians are instructed to do the same.
No one is above any task.
No one is too good for the lowest of jobs.
No one is so powerful they are beyond the need for help.
Spiritual leaders must delegate needed work. Delegating this work is never easy, but when we set the right example, enlisting others to help falls into place.
Too many have sold out to the highest bidder. In the pursuit of greater numbers positions on truth have been altered. Challenge and controversy are avoided to gain popularity and profit.
To overcome the problems of immorality and indecency, we must make a stand.
To help the church mature as God designed, we must make a stand.
To help those who are lost find the true hope of salvation, we must make a stand.
The task is not easy. Conflict and controversy will arise. Trying to avoid it, sweep it under the rug, deny it exists, or hope it just goes away and resolves itself, will not work.
The world and the church need men ready to lead. How do we measure up?
Definitions of a leader vary from one person to another. However, among the many that exist, one describes a leader as “a short length of wire by which a hook is attached to a fishing line.”
The design of this wire is tough to prevent fish from cutting the line. In numerous places, this material is often made of steel, which adds to the thought.
Regardless of how one might define a leader today, we know they must be strong, able to withstand any challenge. It is not a matter of if, but when these challenges come. Spiritual leaders need to remember that the strength of God will help us in battle.
One of the greatest challenges to every leader involves making decisions. When leaders are indecisive their leadership is called into question by followers.
Leaders need to know the causes of indecisiveness to overcome the challenges it brings.
Fear: fear of making the wrong decision, fear of the unknown, and fear of failure are leading causes of indecisiveness.
Trust: leaders who lack trust in their own abilities and the abilities of others are often uncertain or debilitated in making decisions.
Procrastination: the mindset of “why do today, what you can put off until tomorrow” leads to indecisiveness because making a decision lacks urgency.
Remember, decisions must be made and our fears, lack of trust, or the tendency to procrastinate will not change the facts.
What can be done to help leaders overcome the challenges of indecisiveness?
Take time to do some research and gather all the facts to make an informed decision.
Making a list of pros and cons for each decision and pray about it.
Trust the instincts.
Establish a backup plan as a precaution.
Make the decision.
How does the past influence the direction of our current mindset and goals for the future?
We are all shaped in one way or another by the events of the past. These take the form of past teaching, experience, and influence. Each of these categories are either positive and negative as we consider the shaping nature of the past.
Paul was an apostle whose past molded his character in a way that God used to provide an example for the whole of Christianity. His family heritage, academic credentials, knowledge of Old Testament scripture, and zealous attack against the church all left a mark he did not forget.
However, he did not allow the past to dictate the direction of his future. Paul’s focus was now spiritually designed and heavenly directed.
We cannot relive the past, and we cannot change the past. As leaders, we must learn from the past in order to prevent repeating areas that hinder our Christian example.
The challenges of yesterday need to be left in the past and redirect our attention with a spiritual and heavenly focus.
Internal and external challenges face every leader. These challenges cause leaders to question their ability, opportunity, position, and purpose in leadership.
Confidence in one’s ability diminishes when leaders experience failure, suffer discouragement, or they are harshly criticized by others.
When leaders face this challenge they need to approach each area carefully.
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal” is the powerful thought expressed by Winston Churchill. Recognizing that the only time failure exists is when we give up helps us redirect our thinking when success is beyond our reach.
Suffering discouragement generally follows moments of failure. When discouragement takes root, if it is strong enough, we consider quitting. Learning how to overcome discouragement begins by evaluating the cause and seeking help to address it.
Criticism, even when harshly given, provides growth benefits if we are able to see them in this way. We cannot change the motives of those who criticize, but we can choose how we respond. Instead of “reacting,” we need to “act” appropriately as a spiritual leader.
While these are limited ideas, overcoming the challenge is possible. Seek to walk the right path.
Numerous challenges to leadership exist, and narrowing it down to one or two is…well, challenging. It serves leaders well to understand how to approach any challenge.
Over the next few weeks we will look at a few of these challenges and how to address them.
Communication stands as one of the most challenging areas of leadership. Who is responsible for quality communication and how should leaders address this challenge?
Google articles on communication in leadership abound. Forbes has an online article that shares ten secrets about communication in leadership. Two of the secrets are significant:
1) Speak not with a forked tongue: When leaders have a reputation that lacks character or one of poor character, people will not trust them. Communication and character go hand in hand in building trust.
2) Speak to groups as individuals: Leaders who establish a personal atmosphere where people feel they are spoken to directly as an individual builds a rapport where a leader is heard.
Please read the article and learn more ways to face the challenge of communicating in leadership.
How would we describe the adventure, purpose, nature, challenge, essence, opportunity, secret, spice, and beauty of life?
William Arthur Ward sums it up this way: “The adventure of life is to learn. The purpose of life is to grow. The nature of life is to change. The challenge of life is to overcome. The essence of life is to care. The opportunity of life is to serve. The secret of life is to dare. The spice of life is to befriend. The beauty of life is to give.”
Learning, growing, changing, overcoming, caring, serving, daring, befriending and giving are the key elements to the activity of great leaders.
However, additional words found in Ward’s thought are also significant to understanding our leadership. These words are connected to the opening question.
These lists are interdependent and key to a life well lived. Also, each word is intricately positioned and lend to the development of godly leaders.
Consider how we might incorporate each of these words one day or one week at time to lead as God intends us to lead.