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5 Things Good Leaders Do (and 5 They Don't)

  • Michelle Lazurek
5 Things Good Leaders Do (and 5 They Don't)

“Let’s wait on that,” a leader told me before an important church meeting one evening. I wanted to train the leaders of each ministry in my church, but it was easier said than done. Every idea I suggested was either tabled or rejected because the leader felt every detail of the group meeting had to be discussed with the group. I came away from the interaction frustrated and ready to quit.

Choosing leaders is a trickier task than one would believe. Simply because someone volunteers to head up a committee or lead a Bible study does not mean they are leadership material. It is imperative to get the right people in prominent leadership positions for small groups (and subsequently churches) to flourish and thrive. Here are five characteristics of what good leaders do (and five of what they don’t).

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1. Leaders lead from abundance, not lack

1. Leaders lead from abundance, not lack

Leaders can’t lead out of lack, but only abundance. Jesus knew his limits. He took time to get away, practiced spiritual disciplines like solitude and silence, and connected with His Father regularly. In the moments when times get tough, connection with God is the only place you can lead effectively. Take time to care for yourself. Are you in the Word? Are you praying? If so, are you praying for your group? If you are in a good spot with the Lord, more than likely, your team members will follow.

Leaders also take time to care for their souls. They analyze their hearts often and rid themselves of anything standing in the way of their leadership. Sin not only poses a barrier between people and God, but also between leaders and their group members. Leaders make their hearts right before God so they can lead from a good spiritual place.

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2. Leaders lead out of the authority they are granted

2. Leaders lead out of the authority they are granted

In the story of Jesus and the Centurion (Matthew 8:8-10), the centurion led the people under him with authority. But he also knew he was under the authority of Jesus, too. He didn’t try to take something over. As a leader, he knew how to lead but he also knew he needed to hear from the one who led him. Good leaders obey authority; they don’t rebel against it. Leaders walk in the authority they have been given. They believe Jesus has granted them the authority to lead, and they embrace it.

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3. Leaders invest in the group God has given them

3. Leaders invest in the group God has given them

In addition to letting His disciples follow Him around, Jesus also spent time training them in small groups. Small groups are where life is found. Leaders train potential leaders separate from the rest of the group in preparation to have them lead their own small group so that group can replicate the same life giving experience.

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4. Leaders replicate other leaders

4. Leaders replicate other leaders

Jesus didn’t invest in all twelve in the small groups, but only those He felt were ready to carry on the mission of His Father once He was gone. He didn’t wait until a week before He was to be crucified—He invested His time wisely, teaching and training those that could drive out demons, heal the sick and meet the needs of the community, bringing them to the Father. Leaders identify leadership potential within the members of their small group.

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5. Leaders choose people God leads them to—not ones that appear like they are leaders

5. Leaders choose people God leads them to—not ones that appear like they are leaders

Jesus chose the unlikeliest of people to become His disciples. From Luke—an educated and wealthy man esteemed by the community, to Peter, who often acted before he spoke. Yet it was Peter He chose to lead the new church in Acts. Why? Because Peter is a different man from the Gospels to Acts. He goes from a man denying he even knew Jesus to a man to whom the Holy Spirit appears in Acts 2 and then empowers him to speak boldly about Jesus to those around Him. Sometimes potential leaders are ones that say the things least like what a leader would typically say, do, act, etc. But God is in the business of picking leaders because of their hearts, not because of their outward appearances. Good leaders see beyond the outward façade and into the heart. 

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1. Leaders don't lead without a vision

1. Leaders don't lead without a vision

Group meetings that lack vision or direction are a colossal waste of time. In today’s busy world, groups must meet with intention. Intention comes from having a clear vision, mission and direction as to where the group is headed. Will it meet for eight weeks, twelve weeks, or a year? Will they allow new members in within the time they meet? What is the purpose of each meeting? To pray?  Study the word? Apply the week’s sermon? Proverbs 29:18 says, “without vision, the people perish.” In the same way, groups without vision die. Leaders steer their groups to comply with that vision and meet with intention each week. They do whatever it takes to make sure the group meetings (as well as the ministry itself) does not derail from this vision. In a sense, everything they do, whether it is an event, a small group, or a committee meeting always convene with this vision in mind. If not, members will be encouraged to do their own thing rather than what is best for the group as a whole. 

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2. Leaders don't lead by consensus

2. Leaders don't lead by consensus

It’s one thing to hear everyone’s opinion—it is another to feel the need to utilize each one. One of the best examples of leadership came from a woman at a previous church. After all of the members were done brainstorming ideas, she gently declared, “I like all of your ideas, but it doesn’t mean I can use every one. In the end, I have to make decisions that I feel are best for this event.” That may sound harsh, but it’s actually a fabulous example of authoritative leadership. Jesus was an authoritarian leader. He acted within the authority His Father had given Him, and He trained His disciples to act within that authority. To know that being a leader means to make tough decisions that not everyone will approve of at times is one of the best ways to lead a group.

Not everyone’s idea can be used all the time. It is admirable to want to hear everyone’s opinions so that everyone feels like they are a part of the group, but a leader must make the decision on how things are run, even if many good ideas are presented. Like a judge that hears all the evidence and then makes a judgment based on what he has heard, a leader should use the best idea out of all those presented, even if it means hurting someone’s feelings.

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3. Leaders don't let meetings stagnate

3. Leaders don't let meetings stagnate

Sometimes leaders must redirect conversations if they are derailed, and redirect group members if they are monopolizing the time. If they don’t, group meetings quickly become an option rather than a necessity. Good leaders make sure meetings are running well as to make the best use of everyone’s time.

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4. Leaders don't keep programs going simply because they have always done them

4. Leaders don't keep programs going simply because they have always done them

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “to everything there is a season.” As cultures change, so do programs. Programs that worked ten or fifteen years ago may not fit your church’s current needs and ever-changing culture. Sometimes a program needs to be redefined, refashioned or scrapped altogether if it is not reaching its target audience and meeting that needs of the audience. This is a tough (but sometimes necessary) call to make. When speaking about the idea of fruitfulness, John 15:2 says, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so it will be even more fruitful.” Pruning is an essential part of any growth process (including ministries).  In order for a ministry to flourish, sometimes unnecessary programs must be eliminated. Just as we feel a bit of pain when God prunes us in our spiritual lives, people may feel a bit of pain losing their ministry. However, this may be necessary for the entire church to thrive. 

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5. Leaders lift members up, not get them down

5. Leaders lift members up, not get them down

In addition to planning meetings, leaders need to pour into their members emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Members that are being trained as future leaders should never feel like they are alone on the journey. Leaders need to know their members well enough to know when to encourage and when to challenge. Potential leaders should look forward to leading a future group, and not look upon it with dread.

In church, it may be easy to allow anyone to jump into a leadership position. But good leaders know people (and group dynamics) well enough to make decisions not for the good of themselves, but for the good of the group (and ultimately the church).

Michelle S. Lazurek is an award-winning author, speaker, pastor's wife and mother. Winner of the Golden Scroll Children's Book of the Year, the Enduring Light Silver Medal and the Maxwell Award, she is a member of the Christian Author's Network and the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She is also an associate literary agent with Wordwise Media Services. For more information, please visit her website at michellelazurek.com.

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