I gravitate toward a short passage (better yet a single verse) which captures some very critical ideas about Life and Leadership. For me, Exodus 32:34 is one of those verses.
“But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; behold, my angel shall go before you. Nevertheless, in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.” (ESV)
God is saying to Moses, I want YOU to take these people and lead them to the place about which I spoke to you.
From this simple, succinct, and single verse I see that:
A leader is a person (in obedience to God) who intentionally, deliberately and proactively tries to move people from where they are to some place else.
I really like Marcus Buckingham’s definition of a leader: “A leader is a person who is able to rally people to a better future.” It’s saying the same thing as Exodus 32:34.
Building on Exodus 32:34, here are some key ideas:
- God selects his leaders (see Acts 1:24);
- God is there for his leaders and with his leaders, as they travel into the future he has made clear to them;
- God enables his leaders to see a better future–better for the Kingdom, for the organization and for the people being led;
- God gives his leaders certain gifts and helps them acquire skills which enable those leaders to rally others;
- Some people are open to being rallied because they respect/trust the leader and are excited about where he/she is going.
There are three key components to this leadership process:
1. THE PERSON
Here are some things to consider in the person who is leading:
A vibrant and deepening relationship with Jesus is foundational and essential. That should lead to growth in personal character, which is at the heart of 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and 1 Peter 5.
For lasting fruitfulness, chemistry with others is of more value than personal charisma and brilliance. Today’s leaders are team creators and builders, and being able to develop chemistry with others is hugely important.
Competence (being very good at what you do) and capacity commensurate with the responsibilities wins respect for and confidence in the leader.
2. THE PEOPLE
They need to be motivated, excited, persuaded and reasoned with in order to see the value of where they are headed which, undoubtedly, will mandate changes that are always difficult and painful from the oftentimes comfortable present we are living in. The leader seeks to create a sense of urgency and value for leaving where the people are and traveling to somewhere else.
3. THE PLACE
The place could be a geographical place, an idea, a concept or a project. In the case of Moses, it was a physical place, the promise land. In other cases, it might be a building, a piece of property, a bold idea and multifaceted project of several years. Whatever it is, it’s where the leader feels, before the Lord, that he/she and the people need to go.
So, fellow leader:
- Are you the kind of growing leader people want to follow as opposed to have to follow?
- Have you heard from the Lord regarding that “better future?
- Are you learning how to rally people to go there with you, or are you taking a walk by yourself?
Sobering, but significant, questions for every leader to ask.