Leaders are both born and made. Some people know they are leaders and naturally assume that position; others will become leaders if they are willing to put in the work. But just because someone volunteers does not make him/her a prime candidate for leadership. So, how does someone become a great leader?
Here are 10 ways to develop your leadership potential that perhaps you haven’t thought of already:
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1. Be Good Fruit
When I buy fruit from the grocery store, I don’t usually buy the first container I see but I flip it over, careful to inspect each piece of fruit. Too many times have I gone home, opening the carton only to find mold that has developed way deep in between the fruit. Good fruit is not only good on the outside where we can see, but also good on the inside.
Likewise, to be a great leader, your outward actions must match the inside. When figuring out if you are good fruit, ask yourself these questions:
- “Am I reliable when someone is counting on me?”
- “Do I do the work asked of me?”
- “Do I go the extra mile when it comes to ensuring the health and wellbeing of the people I am leading?”
Although we are all sinners and no one is perfect, the best leaders do their best to develop the fruits of the Spirit within and make sure they display those fruits both at church and away from it.
People who are becoming more like Christ are emulating patience, goodness, joy, etc., but they are also honest about how long and difficult that process is. People who are good fruit don’t pretend to be someone they are not. They do what they can to become better Christians, and they are also honest about their struggles.
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2. Be Teachable
One of the characteristics I look for in clients to sign to the literary agency I work is a teachable spirit. A client may have a fabulous book idea and be a stellar writer, but if he/she isn’t willing to heed advice from me or anyone else in the field, how can I work with him or help her develop her skills as a writer? It’s the same way when becoming a great leader.
Part of the requirements for being a leader in my church is to meet with the pastor and other leaders a couple of times a year. If leaders are shut off from learning anything new or listening to advice about leading in a different way, more than likely they are not fit to lead.
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3. Be Accountable
Leaders know they need others to help them be effective leaders. They know they cannot go through the Christian life alone. They enlist the help of other leaders to make sure they are doing the right things in their lives. They have more seasoned Christians that care enough about them to make sure they are on the right path. These are the people whom leaders “live in the light with,” meaning they share their lives with each other, including their struggles and difficulties.
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4. Be Authentic
Unfortunately, in this society, Christians are too concerned with appearing perfect in other’s eyes. This is one of the biggest hindrances to spiritual growth. People can’t get to know the real you if you wear a mask around them all the time. I’m not suggesting you have to air all your dirty laundry to the public, but true leaders are willing to be real about their lives—even the parts that make them look unfavorable in other’s eyes.
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5. Be a Servant
When I first went to Bible college after my husband and I got married, my husband took me on a tour to introduce me to the teachers and staff that he had gotten to know throughout the past semester. As we walked the campus sidewalks, my husband pointed to a man picking up garbage and said, “There is the Dean of Students.” That image stuck with me because as someone so high up in the school, he could have easily left that work for someone else to do. Yet, he was humble enough and cared about the school enough to participate in its upkeep.
Jesus was the same way. Although he was God, he emptied himself of His power so He could be like us.
Identify people that care enough about the church to lower themselves, performing menial service tasks and projects. This means they are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure the church—and its people—are cared for.
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6. Demonstrate Humility
Pride is the antithesis of good leadership. Pride says, “I know it all, I can’t learn from anyone else.” When becoming a great leader, we don’t need to look any further than Jesus. The Pharisees lorded their knowledge over others; good leaders empty themselves and don’t lord their leadership like a king on a throne. People need to know they can come to a potential leader with the understanding that leaders will treat them with respect, doing their best to hear concerns and resolving them in the best way possible.
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7. Handle Conflict Well
In one of our previous churches, we had received complaints about a woman who was very controlling when it came to her style of leadership. Other volunteers felt like they couldn’t work with her and that although she was quiet, tended to force her agenda onto others. When we met with her and expressed concerns, she didn’t deny it. She didn’t ignore it. She sat back quietly, thinking about what we had said. When we asked her what she was thinking, she said, “I don’t want to respond without weighing what was said and asking myself if there is a grain of truth to it.” Our respect for her went through the roof.
One way to identify a person’s maturity level is to find out how a person reacts when he/she is involved in conflict. Does she immediately get defensive? Does she deny the allegations? Or does he think about it, seeing if there is anything she can learn from it?
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8. Remain Strong in the Face of Trials
Anyone can lead when everything is going well. But what happens when trials emerge in the church—pastoral transitions, reduction of programs, conflict among ministry leaders. Do they flee and fail to take the lead when there is a gap in leadership? Or do they roll up their sleeves and resume leadership, even if they are not fully aware of what is needed to do?
Some leaders were born leaders. But others can be made if given proper training. Sometimes God throws a church a curveball that doesn’t allow leaders proper training within a reasonable timeframe. A good leader will step in to help anyway.
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9. Submit to Authority
Submission is not just for the marriage relationship. Scripture talks about us, “being in submission to the authorities above us.” This applies to our government, our homes, and our churches. Good leaders will submit to those above them, even if they don’t 100% agree with everything being said and done. They will continue to serve and carry out the tasks required.
When most people want to rebel, good leaders will be in quiet submission. This doesn’t mean they can’t express concerns. But they are satisfied with expressing themselves, then putting the situation in God’s hands and letting him handle it.
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10. Handle Change with Grace
Change happens – especially in churches. Pastors leave and new ones arrive; ministries dissolve and new ones emerge. This can cause a sense of instability within the congregation. As I age, I like change less and less. However, I can’t let my feelings dictate how I choose to lead. Good leaders handle change with grace. Change is never easy, but leaders don’t allow their personal preferences to get in the way of what is best in creating a healthy church culture.
Investing in others is vital to ensure that leaders are replicated within the church. But not all leaders know how to develop their skills to become the best leaders they can be. By implementing these suggestions, a leader can quickly transition from a good leader into a great one.
Michelle S. Lazurek is a multi-genre award-winning author, speaker, writing coach, pastor's wife and mother. As a literary agent for Wordwise Media services, she is a sought-after workshop presenter at popular writers' conferences like She Speaks and Greater Philly Christian Writers conference. Please visit her website: michellelazurek.com.
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