As shepherd leaders we are called to serve, love, and lead the flock God has entrusted us to steward. This requires for us as leaders to practice daily habits and rhythms that focus our perspective on what matters most to God, quicken our minds on things above, and tenderize our hearts to remain humble and teachable to the Holy Spirit. Dr. Randy Grimes, one of our wonderful Rockbridge professors, has written this post on five keys to becoming a leader who impacts lives. I believe these five keys, along with other biblical leadership principles, are non-negotiable for us as leaders. Praying for you as you lead your flock in these trying times. – Tommy Hilliker, President, Rockbridge Seminary
5 Keys to Becoming A Leader Who Impacts Lives
1. Most important: Spend time alone with God.
Jesus often slipped away from His disciples to spend time alone with God the Father. The time spent with His Father resulted in a ministry marked by focus and power. Time spent alone with God each day will fill your spiritual cup, and it will also overflow into the lives of those you lead. Jesus put time spent with His Father first in His ministry and it changed the lives of those He led. Follow the footsteps of Jesus and watch how the lives of those around you begin to change.
God did not speak to Moses until he stopped what he was doing and looked at the burning bush (Exodus 3:4). It was David’s practice to spend time alone with God in the morning, and it was there that He waited on the Lord to speak to Him (Psalm 5:2). There is little doubt that this daily practice of David was cultivated in the grassy hills where he tended his father’s flocks, where God enabled him to kill the lion and the bear with his two hands. It was likely in the quiet times spent with God, that David gained the confidence to challenge the mighty Goliath armed only with a sling. To begin to know the God we serve and to hear Him speak to us, we must take time to be still before Him (Psalm 46:10).
2. Live and pray like there is no tomorrow.
Leonard Ravenhill said it like this, “No man is greater than his prayer life.” It is not only important to understand the importance of prayer, but also the Greatness and Holiness of the God you pray too. When leaders who change lives pray, they then rely on God’s Holy Spirit to go before them to prepare hearts and begin changing the lives they daily touch.
During Seminary, my mentor taught me to not end my morning prayers, but continue them at times throughout my day, then say ‘Amen’ before I ended my day. (Philippians 4:6-7). Glen Packiam once said, “The way you pray, is the way you believe, is the way you live.” John clearly wrote this in 1 John 2:6, “If you are going to be a Christian, live like one!” Living your faith shows your family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the people in your day that you are in love with Jesus.
3. Know God’s Word.
The primary means by which God speaks to us is through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Devote a time in your daily schedule to read, study and memorize God’s Word. The Bible is God’s self-revelation to humanity. The Bible also tells us how our sin has separated us from God and about His redemption through His Son Jesus Christ and His death on the Cross at Calvary.
Joshua 1:9 says to “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Psalm 119:105 says “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” God’s Word always shows us where we are standing and then guides us to where we need to go. Rely on the Scriptures and God’s Holy Spirit to speak to those you lead.
4. Listen to those you lead and serve.
Effective communication has two important parts, listening and clearly communicating. Both parts are equally important in the process of effectively receiving and interpreting your message. When you listen to your people, they will tell you two things: (1). Where they are spiritually, which will help you lead them to their next step of spiritual maturity, and (2). If they have clearly received and grasped your message.
My Pastor Steve calls this “pinging,” a submarine sends out a series of sonar signals called “pings.” The ping “bounces” off the target and then returns to let you know the target is there. When your pings bounce back, are they telling you something is out there? James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” Spend time each week focusing on your “listening” skills. This will greatly sharpen your leadership skills.
5. Be intentional.
Being intentional means to plan out, design, or to do things on purpose. Scriptures reveal to us that our God is intentional in all that He does. We see it clearly in the life and ministry of Jesus, who declared, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to finish His work (John 4:34).” Successful life-changing leaders learn to follow His example and become intentional in discipleship. We become intentional by, first finding out where our people are in their spiritual growth journey, then guiding them towards their next step, but always keeping in front of them the end goal of becoming just like Jesus.
No one would ever take a long trip across the United States without first choosing a clear destination. Second, they would develop a realistic plan to help them reach their destination. Intentional discipleship involves the same process. Begin by helping them discover who they are in Christ (1 Peter 2:9), then how to walk in the Spirit, how to develop the daily habits of prayer and Bible reading. Building relationships with other believers and the lost will soon follow. Being intentional keeps you focused on reaching the end goal of becoming just like Jesus.
Dr. Randy Grimes is a professor at Rockbridge Seminary. He is passionate about spiritual formation and the development of ministry leaders. He is the author of the small group curriculum, “Living your Faith: Between the Sundays.” His studies are free to all group and church leaders. Connect with Dr. Grimes at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a copy.