Develop the Character of a Leader
- Friday, May 11, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Jeff Iorg's new book, The Character of Leadership: Nine Qualities that Define Great Leaders, (B&H Publishing, 2007).
You’re likely working your hardest to accomplish many tasks as a leader. But no matter what you achieve, you can’t be truly successful unless you develop strong character along the way. That’s because leadership isn’t about what you do – it’s about who you are.
Leadership assignments are laboratories for God to transform you to become more like Jesus. So shift your focus from doing things for God to inviting God to do things in you. When you do, you’ll see nine key character traits begin to emerge. Here’s how you can develop them:
* Maintain integrity. Understand that integrity means acting the same in every situation, with every group of people. Do your best to say what you mean, mean what you say, do what you say, and mean what you do. Align your attitudes, words, and actions with biblical truth, so you can operate with good moral ethics in every area of your life – home, work, school, etc. Submit every part of your life to Jesus, remembering that He is the one to whom you are ultimately accountable. Recognize that you don’t own your leadership position; you simply manage it, because everything you have is a gift from God. Do your best to take care of your job while you have it, keeping in mind that your work is just temporary and you have a responsibility to accomplish the most you can in the limited time you have. Trust God to work through other people in your church or ministry’s accountability structure to correct, guide, and direct you. Respect the accountability system around you, and cooperate with it. Spend time regularly in devotional Bible reading and prayer. Don’t let burnout tempt you to mar your integrity; get the renewal you need by taking a weekly Sabbath rest. Stay connected to God through regular times of worship, and invite Him to infuse you with His strength as you worship Him.
* Find security. Get to know who you truly are and what God has made you to do. Don’t waste time or energy looking for security in places that won’t ultimately deliver, such as through accomplishments or relationships with people. Instead, look for it in the right place – your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Remember that no one can take away the eternal security you have because of your relationship with Jesus. Know that your security will stand strong no matter what challenges or crises come your way. Celebrate the fact that, when you derive your sense of security from God, you break free of being controlled by any lesser force (like materialism) that you might otherwise turn to for security. Ask God to give you the confidence you need to lead well. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to requests without feeling guilty. Be willing to take risks and learn from failure. Trust other people to make decisions rather than trying to over-manage your ministry. Keep your work in perspective, realizing that it is just one part of your life as a whole. Ask God to help you properly balance the various roles you fulfill in the different parts of your life. Renew your mind by memorizing key Scripture passages about security.
* Maintain purity. Realize that building moral purity and protecting it throughout your life is vital to your current effectiveness and future legacy as a leader. Invest plenty of time and energy into your marriage to help prevent being pulled into an affair or an addiction to pornography. Limit your exposure to immoral influences in the media. Carefully choose the types of television and movies you watch. Place Internet filters on your computer. Ask people you trust and respect to help keep you accountable to standards of purity. Check in with your spouse often and make sure your spouse knows your schedule every day. Protect yourself from the appearance of immorality through such simple steps as: avoiding hosting people of the opposite sex socially, or being alone with them in professional settings; counseling people of the opposite sex carefully; placing a window in your office door; giving unlimited access to your computer to your colleagues and operating it in the open; and avoiding touching members of the opposite sex so your actions can’t be misinterpreted. If you’ve already compromised your moral purity and need to be restored, be honest about your mistake, confess it, and take full responsibility for it. Stop what you were doing completely and move purposefully away from the sin and toward God, praying for the healing you need, and reaching out to people you trust for support and encouragement.
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