People so often forget that good leadership principles work whether at church or at the office, so even those of us who are working to be better Christian leaders can benefit from secular leadership training. Personally, I have sought out and studied leadership training for several years. By far, John Maxwell is my favorite source for leadership knowledge and training. I find that his books can easily be turned into self-paced leadership courses.
This week, I embarked on new training. I’m spending the next 21 weeks with Maxwell’s The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. Each week, I will be studying a new quality and completing the “Bring It Home” activities for that quality. I hope to end the week with some action items to improve that quality in myself, becoming a stronger Christian leader.
The quality for this week is character, which I have been working on for over 10 years. Around the age of 30, I started with the realization that I had to stop lying to myself. I had to be brave enough to really examine my own intentions and ensure that my intentions were good and right. From there, I had to ensure that my intentions matched up with the things that I said. Then, I had to be willing to face the emotional consequences of my decisions even when those consequences involved discomfort or confrontation. I had to be true to myself. To some extent, this process was a byproduct of developing mature relationships.
Over the last year, the process shifted to becoming a more authentic version of myself. I remember a sermon I heard maybe 8 or 9 years ago that really stuck with me. Randy Cook, the Lead Pastor at Crossroads Church in Lebanon, compared being a Christian to being a banana; when you peel away the layers, you should know exactly what to expect. My goal over the past year was to become the banana, making sure that the outward appearance of my life matched my inner self. I’ve made several changes to make all of my life more consistent with my Christian identity. This year, my focus is developing humility. More on both later. 😉
The chapter began with a quote from a British field Marsh named Bernard Montgomery:
Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.
That is exactly what I hope to do as a Youth Minister. I hope to rally men and women to the common purpose of bringing our children the Good News and supporting them in their growth toward full participation in God’s church.
As Maxwell explains the quality of character, he states,
Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of the two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, even if that choice brings negative consequences. (p. 4)
I read this statement several times. What stood out to me is that becoming a person of character is a series of choices. Maxwell goes on to explain that character requires. He also explains that a leader will never exceed the limitations of their character. I suppose that is why it is the first of the 21 qualities! Finally, he talks about the four As Steven Berglas points to for the downfall of all leaders in his book The Success Syndrome: Arrogance, Aloneness, Adventure-seeking, and Adultery.
My personal weakness is Aloneness. When I let my insecurities get the best of me, I start thinking that (1) I have to do things alone because that’s what’s expected of me and (2) no one wants to help me, both of which pull me away from God and connectedness with others. In doing the recommended reflections, I realized that my greatest character flaw stems from my feeling of unworthiness and feelings of Aloneness, something which I will need to be more aware of and to work on.
My action items? For 2016, once I week, I will reflect on opportunities to ask others for help. I will be looking for missed opportunities and examining if those opportunities were missed because of Aloneness. I will use that information to become a more connected Christian leader.
Do you seek to rally others to a common purpose? If so, do you choose character or compromise when adversity strikes? What is one thing you want to change about yourself?