Friday, 5 March 2010

The Leader's Tool-Belt

Leadership involves helping people to achieve an objective. In this sense, parents are leaders since they are helping their children reach the objective of responsible maturity. Husbands are leaders since they are helping their wives achieve the objective of bliss. Team captains are leaders since they are helping their team achieve their best performance. Every leader, no matter what the context of their leadership, needs a "toolbelt". In their toolbelt they have tools ready for helping people. Let's do a toolbelt check...
Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
TOOL #1 Prayer
Notice what Paul the apostle seemed to have in his leadership toolbelt based on Romans 15:5? Firstly, he had prayer. He prayed for those he was trying to help. Good leaders are good pray-ers. Parents pray for their children. Husbands pray for their wives. Team leaders pray for their teams.

TOOL #2 Pace
But note what else Paul seemed to have in leadership toolbelt. He was praying for his readers to endure. Leaders help their team go the distance. They do all they can to pace those they are helping. This involves knowing when to ask for more, and when to help them rest well. Endurance is best achieved with a marathon attitude rather than a sprint attitude. But it is a marathon attitude that is punctuated by times of intensity and times of restful celebration. When our family went on our last driving holiday to Queensland, Ruby was only 2 years old. To maximise everyone's ability to enjoy the trip as well the destination we travelled only a few hours a day and took a leisurely pace rather than our usual 12 hours a day of driving. The result was that we stopped and stayed in towns along the Newell Highway that we would never have enjoyed otherwise. Years later we still recollect moments from that holiday and how enjoyable it was.

TOOL #3 Praise
Leaders encourage. When a Dad says to his son or daughter after they've given their best, "Well done. I'm proud of you!"- it carries enormous weight. A leader's encouragement can lift spirits, inspire effort, and impart satisfaction for unappreciated work. But this kind of encouragement is not always as direct as some leaders might think. It often comes in the form of indirect comments that shows that the leader has noticed or that they have been thoughtful. A leader asks questions of those they help. A leader comments not only on the finished work but on the amount of effort invested. A leader listens to a discouraged team member and understands that they are stressed about something other than what they might be complaining about. They then say something that both affirms their team member and invites their team member to be truly honest about what is really troubling them. Many employers have had cranky staff members complain about their work conditions only to later find out that their marriage was under great strain or that their child was recently diagnosed with cancer. There was another point in my pastoral ministry when I was discouraged and feeling low. A senior leader I greatly respected listened to me say how hard it was to grow our church in Legana. After listening to me whinge he offered no advice but he did say one 7-word sentence that filled my inspiration tank for about the next few years.

TOOL #4 Harmony
Leaders help their team to get along. They diffuse disagreements. They correct those team members who cause division. They keep their team united by reminding them of the big picture ("the vision') and the real point to their efforts. Mums and Dads have to use this leadership tool all the time!

TOOL #5 Accordance
And finally, leaders need to have an ability to bring accordance to their team. The kind of accordance that is needed is with Jesus Christ. Often a team member may be out of sorts because they are out of accord with Jesus Christ. A wise leader will encourage his team member to share what they sense the Lord is saying to them or doing in their life. This leader may also invite their team member to pray with them and to seek Christ for His leading and direction.
The leader's tool-belt carries prayer, pace, praise, harmony and accordance. Used wisely, we are are better able to achieve our objective of growing in Christ, knowing Him and making Him known.
Philippians 2:2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Father, please us each to know when to use the right tool to help others. I pray that we can all be better leaders. Help us as a church provide helpful leadership to our communities, schools, workplaces and homes. In Jesus' Name,

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