Thursday, 21 October 2010

Characteristics of a leader?

I am not a great fan of leadership books. You know the type I'm sure.They present a menu of stuff that, if followed, can apparently make you a leader ( in an hour if it is one of those from a motorway service area)If, however,it's one of the more 'subtle' books then it will present pretty much the same list but rather than tell you to 'do these things in order to become a leader' it will say that leaders are born not made - but if you correspond to this list then you are a naturalleader ( see what they did there?).....

However, reading Psalm 78 (and dipping into 2 Sam 6) I read how and why God commended David as a 'leader' of His people.

Firstly He uses the word 'shepherd' (Ps 78:72) - a one who is concerned first and foremost for those under his care - more than for his own advancement or well being. So, firstly, a leader has a shepherd heart after the heart of God Himself - modelled perfectly by Jesus.

Next there is a really central principle that is so lacking in much of today's 'practice of leadership' - integrity of heart. It's sometimes very difficult today, until after the event, to know the difference between the appearance of integrity, the product of highly paid,spin inducing PR gurus, and the real thing. In fact there are often only 2 people who know the difference - you and God!

Then the Psalmist mentions actually having skills for the task - another word we would use today would be 'competency'. In 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV) we read that "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant..." The skills and gifts to lead are so important but often forgotten, with very little being invested to develop this area in the lives of many who would be leaders. I am not referring just to 'external' investment such as an organisation may offer in terms of training and development but, because ultimately this competence is 'given from God' the most important investment is the internal. The commitment of time and effort to focus on, and spend time with, Jesus.

Finally, when we look into 2 Samuel we glimpse another crucial characteristic of a leader - enthusiasm. To be enthused and to enthuse others. When we consider the etymology of the word, quite literally 'possessed by God' we need to recover the understanding and rediscover the reality.
So, leaders: shepherd heart, integrity, skilful and possessed by God.
Me? Very much a work in progress, although sometimes feels like regress! But He is able.

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