Character is king when it comes to leadership, but humility is king when it comes to influence. Influence promotes growth, whereas just having character can promote self. When we see our accomplishments through the eyes of “others” instead of “me” we can experience multiplication that exceeds all that we plan and seek for our family and churches.
As leaders, we lead, we make strategic plans, we create momentum and we even see fruit; these seem good, but God is clear when He outlines leadership. His definition of good is not found in our work, our to do lists, or our best effort put forward. Those are simply sacrifices and outcomes of the primary – while certainly these are profitable, they are not what God defines as the ultimate definition of leadership. His definition is found in a three simple action plan found in Micah 6:8:
- Act justly.
- Love mercy.
- Walk humbly with our God.
To act justly is to do what’s right for others. To love mercy is to be loyal to others. To walk humbly is to walk thoughtfully about others. Notice that the last one is to walk with our God. For God Himself is the Ultimate Leader, but He tells us that even though He dwells on a high and holy place, He also dwells with the contrite and the lowly. (Isaiah 57:15). As leaders, we have positions, responsibilities and power, but that power is not a power trip for us to ride on. It’s a seat of service to others. As we walk with God, we partner with Him. Like Him, we will use our positions of power to elevate the brokenhearted, underdeveloped and overlooked; our roles are opportunities to shed light on the modest and simple, so they can carry the baton onward and lead for the good cause of Christ. After all, God purposed Himself to use His throne and its entire splendor to revive the spirit of the lowly and the heart of the contrite. Why would we be or do anything different as leaders? Oh how we can limit ourselves and the mission of Christ when we choose to ride on our power trips! Amen?
You might say, “But I’m not a leader.” Oh but yes you are! Do you have children? Then you are their leader. They are certainly a modest, simple, and underdeveloped and in many cases an overlooked group of people who have such potential to grow and become. You have the great honor to cultivate and advance them! Do you teach a small group of adults? Many in your group come brokenhearted, filled with life’s painful burdens. You can walk with them, teach them, partner with them and get them to a place of freedom. Are you a Christian? Being a Christian makes you an influence of God’s gospel. You can lead the lost to salvation in Christ and help them grow step by step in a closer relationship with Him. We are all leading someone, but the question is, “What action plan are we following?”
Becoming a “leader” is not the goal in life; being a servant is. When we use our roles to elevate others, make them shine, and help them get where God wants them, then we have learned the secret of great leadership. But it takes humility to get there. And humility in many cases is what culminates and propels the ability to act justly and love mercy. For without humility we will demand judgment not justice; and without humility we will make others dependent upon us vs. dependent on God’s power for their advancement. As a parent, it has been my dream to advance each child way beyond where I have been in leadership. To do this, I have needed to not view my leadership role in their life as significant in its own right, but to see it as a launching pad for them to go far and beyond! Now that’s multiplication!
How do we follow this action plan set by our God? How can we prepare our hearts and minds for such a leadership? First, we don’t love our position and power – instead we love the people we lead. And second we don’t use the people, instead we use our position to shape them. Thirdly, no one following us wants to look up at us, they want to see us by their side. So we choose to dwell with them not above them; just as Jesus chose to dwell with us, we will do life with those we lead.
“For thus says the High and exalted One Who lives forever, Whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place (leadership), and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit (humility), in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.'” (Isaiah 57:15).