One of the key elements, and most challenging, in communication is the ability to listen.
We love to talk. What we have to say is important. We want others to listen. When someone else is talking we are just waiting to express what we are formulating in our mind.
As a result, we are not really listening.
Add to this the fact we are easily distracted by our cell phone, computer, local environment, and a hundred other factors.
We often think of leaders as those who are out front, giving instruction, direction, and orders.
However, there are several reasons it is necessary for leaders to learn the art of listening.
Learning to listen helps us connect with people.
Learning to listen helps us gain a better understanding of their needs.
Learning to listen helps us develop stronger concentration.
We must listen with our ears, eyes, and heart. The message is not always conveyed through the actual words spoken. Tone of voice and body language also play a significant role in the message.
As challenging as it can be, learning to listen will change the nature of our leadership.
In the 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell refers to what he calls the “Law of the Big Mo.” The necessity of momentum in leadership is critical to success. When momentum is established correctly, it is hard to slow the progress. Momentum can make all the difference in achieving goals, but also the time frame in which they are achieved.
The challenge facing most leaders is how to establish the kind of momentum that carries this progress forward. A few suggestions that address this challenge include:
1) Start small and build up.
2) Set a pace where others can follow and excel.
3) Strive to keep a positive focus and attitude.
4) Secure additional help to support the forward motion.
Sometimes, it only takes one spark to get momentum started.
Taking advantage of those sparks can move any group of individuals into a level of excitement that produces growth momentum.
Leaders must then maintain that momentum by providing the necessary tools, allowing the freedom to be creative, and encouraging ownership and responsibility for development.
When the momentum shifts, whoever is not onboard, will be soon.
Significant to the foundation of this week’s word is understanding it is a verb. Regardless of how we might define associated terms, such as leading, leader, or leadership, the idea is not concerned with description, but action.
An urgency and even an imperative nature is ascribed to this word, lead. Consider the following thoughts connected to this imperative.
1) Initiate motion: To lead requires beginning the process. Waiting on someone else to lead often results in nothing getting accomplished.
2) Organize and direct: If there is a priority that exists in the realm of leading, it is the need to organize and direct. If not, the results are the same.
3) Take command: To lead is to take command. We are not referring to an authoritative dictator style of leading, but assuming responsibility.
In order to take appropriate action, an appropriate understanding of the role must exist. Without taking the lead, the unqualified, desperate, misguided, and agenda driven element take the lead.
Each of these thoughts carries weight to the activity connected to the pressing demand for spiritual leaders to lead.
There is a constant amazement when learning or picking up on phrases with such powerful meaning in leadership.
A good friend tags their e-mails with this phrase: “let my words testify…let my actions magnify…let my heart glorify the Lord.”
As the words play over and over, thoughts about spiritual leadership continue to sound loudly.
The words we speak, the actions we demonstrate, and the attitudes we portray become the building blocks for our leadership.
A similar thought is expressed by the Psalmist in answering the question “O Lord, who may abide in Your tent? Who may dwell on Your holy hill?” The answer follows; “he who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.”
The church, the world, co-workers, friends, neighbors, and our family are all watching us. They measure our character by the words and actions displaying our attitude.
Spiritual leaders must constantly and diligently guard every aspect of life.
Let our words testify…Let our actions magnify…Let our hearts glorify the Lord.
“In times like these it is good to remember that there have always been times like these.” Paul Harvey
No matter what these times may be in our lives, this is a great quote to remember, especially as leaders.
Over the past 50 years of life we have all seen several changes within the church. Some of these changes have been good and some destructive.
There were “times like these” on several occasions. At the time we may have wondered if this was the only time something like this has happened. Have others faced the same challenges and struggled with the same feelings?
Solomon reminds us there is nothing new under the sun. Paul Harvey expresses it another way, but the thought is the same.
Leaders will always face challenges when leading others. It may be a different generation, culture, gender, age, or time of day, but the outcome is the same. There will always been times like these.
Let us remember to seek God’s counsel and listen to His word. Here is the only place we will find the true answers to solve the problems we face.
Life presents difficulties, challenges too great to handle. No problem, just push the “easy” button.
While an easy button might help in the purchase of office supplies, life and leadership do not work this way.
Challenges tend to occur when the path is the smoothest.
Perhaps we just walked through the valley of the shadow of death and now see the “light at the end of the tunnel.”
Maybe success was in reach after months or years of intensive planning and work.
At times, when one challenge begins and another sits down beside it.
We are all aware of needing an easy button, a do-over. We just want a chance at a fresh start.
This is not unique. The challenge is recognizing the times in life when difficulties arise and knowing how to lead.
No one is exempt. Spiritual leaders have the task of helping those encountering struggles in life face them with confidence and assurance. We need to provide a measure of hope. Christ, our hope, is the only possibility of an easy button, not an easy life, but an opportunity to have a fresh start.
Does leadership influence culture, or does culture influence leadership? There is a great deal of controversy over the answer.
Examining the characteristics of culture from each decade over the last 90 years and the leadership of the country reveals interesting information.
The conclusion is split. There are times when it seems the culture influenced leadership. However, it would appear at times, leadership influenced culture, as with Harry Truman during World War II.
Amazingly, the definition of leadership changed each decade in relationship to the culture and the current leadership.
This is also biblically true. When men like Joshua led Israel, his influence led God’s people to remain loyal and faithful. However, we also find the mindset of Israel, at a divisive point, selecting Jeroboam as king. The result was spiritually devastating.
While we may never have a definitive answer, one thought is clear. God intends spiritual leaders to influence the culture and not the reverse.
The task before us is to be the influence in our world. Our prayer should be to arise and accept the challenge with courage and boldness. Eternity matters.