John W. Gardner, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, who is now directing a leadership study project in Washington, D.C., has pinpointed five characteristics that set “leader” managers apart from run-of-the-mill managers:
- They are long-term thinkers who see beyond the day’s crisis and the quarterly report.
- Their interest in the company does not stop with the unit they are heading. They want to know how all of the company’s departments affect one another, and they are constantly reaching beyond their specific area of influence.
- They put heavy emphasis on vision, values, and motivation.
- They have strong people skills.
- They don’t accept the status quo.
Actually, a manager needs the ability not only to make good decisions himself, but also to lead others to make good decisions. Charles Moore, after four years of research at the United Parcel Service reached the following conclusions:
- Good decisions take a lot of time.
- Good decisions combine the efforts of a number of people.
- Good decisions give individuals the freedom to dissent.
- Good decisions are reached without any pressure from the top to reach an artificial consensus.
- Good decisions are based on the participation of those responsible for implementing them.*
Wherever anything is to be done, either in the Church or in the world, you may depend upon it, it is done by one man. The whole history of the Church, from the earliest ages, teaches the same lesson. A Moses, a Gideon, an Isaiah, and a Paul are from time to time raised up to do an appointed work; and when they pass away, their work appears to cease. Nor is it given to everyone, as it was to Moses, to see the Joshua who is destined to carry on his work to completion.
God can raise up a successor to each man, but the man himself is not to worry about that matter, or he may do harm. One great object of every religious teacher should be to prevent the creation of external appliances to make his teaching appear to live when it is dead.
Charles Spurgeon, in Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching & Preachers, W. Wiersbe, p. 223
Position of Leadership
Don’t take a position of leadership in church unless you are prepared to be honest, pure, and loving in your lifestyle. Leadership is a privilege, and with privilege comes responsibility. God holds teachers of His truth doubly responsible because we who lead are in a position where we can either draw people toward Christ or drive them away from Him.
This is illustrated in the life of the famous author Mark Twain. Church leaders were largely to blame for his becoming hostile to the Bible and the Christian faith. As he grew up, he knew elders and deacons who owned slaves and abused them. He heard men using foul language and saw them practice dishonesty during the week after speaking piously in church on Sunday. He listened to ministers use the Bible to justify slavery. Although he saw genuine love for the Lord Jesus in some people, including his mother and his wife, he was so disturbed by the bad teaching and poor example of church leaders that he became bitter toward the things of God.
Indeed, it is a privilege to be an elder, a deacon, a Sunday school teacher, or a Bible club leader. But it is also an awesome responsibility. Let’s make sure we attract people to the Savior rather than turn them away.