It’s no secret that finishing well is a huge value for me and led to the book Leaders Who Last

Here are some essential keys for the Christian leader to finish well. I regularly teach these and, by His grace, seek to practice them in my own life and work.

(I will use he throughout, but mean both he and she.)

A leader who finishes well is one who…

1. Maintains A Vibrant And Genuine Relationship With Jesus

He is consistent in practicing a set of spiritual disciplines (means of grace) that give the Lord an opportunity to create transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit. Some of these include, but are not limited, to:

  • Scripture memory
  • Serious Bible Study
  • Daily Bible reading
  • Repentance and confession
  • Dynamic corporate and private worship
  • A deepening prayer life of adoration/thanksgiving/intercession
  • Community in a group with some likeminded brothers and sisters
  • Personal accountability with a few close people of the same gender

This key, and the next key, set the stage for the rest of what follows!

2. Is A Life-Long Learner

He is willing to learn from anyone, at anytime, on any subject. Leaders are both readers and writers so their followers can drink from running streams and not stagnant pools. I have never met a leader worth his salt who was not a voracious reader…hungry to learn, read, ask questions and keep growing. The person who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks has never met a hungry dog.

3. Displays The “Fruit Of The Spirit”

The fruit of the spirit, more than the gifts of the spirit, will enable a leader to last and significantly impact others. More leaders fall over character issues than competency issues

4. Lives Out Of Personal Convictions, Based On God’s Promises And Character

The leader bases his decisions and actions on the promises and character of God–not on which way the political or organizational winds are blowing.  By God’s grace, he does the right thing–not the expedient thing or the easy thing.

5. Continues To Serve Out Of His Unique Gifting And Calling, Leaving A Lasting Legacy

As Marcus Buckingham says, “The best of your work should be the most of your work.” The leader has good self-awareness and knows his “sweet spot,” spending 80% of his time functioning in his gifting/calling/passion.

You will get tired faster and shorten your ministry life-span if you are spending huge chunks of time where God has not gifted and called you. Say no to lots of things so you can say yes to a few things.

6. Lives A Life Of Integrity, Transparency And Vulnerability

In survey after survey, followers (far and away) state that the number one attribute that they are looking for in their leaders is integrity that leads to a high degree of trust and credibility.

The leader owns his sin and doesn’t make excuses or blame others. He is quick to say things like, “I’m sorry…it was my fault…I take full responsibility…please forgive me…I made a mistake.

Be good for your word. Say what you mean and mean what you say.  Practice under-promising and over-delivering, rather than over-promising and under-delivering.

7. Is Aware Of The Power That Leadership Carries And Stewards It Well

Everywhere you look you see leaders abusing the power entrusted to them. They do this in the way they treat people, the way they communicate and the way they make decisions. Dictatorial, top-down, harsh, mean-spirited and intimidating leaders are not leading according to 1 Timothy 3, Titus 1 and 1 Peter 5. They do not follow the example of Jesus. It’s not tough leadership, rather sinful leadership they are exhibiting.

“Power may justly be compared to a great river; while kept within bounds it is both beautiful and useful, but when it overflows its banks, it brings destruction and desolation to all in its way” Andrew Hamilton

8. Remains Physically And Emotionally Faithful To His Spouse

In a day when so many leaders (single and married) disqualify themselves through sexual sin and the use of pornography, this is a gigantic issue for all of us. I am not going to give simplistic answers on this one but simply say that if it is an issue for you, please, please address it with some reliable friends and don’t try to “keep it a secret,” as it says of David in 2 Samuel 12:12.

9. Learns How To Pace Himself And Creates Healthy Boundaries And Margins

The wise leader who wants to live as long as God has in mind for him constantly reminds himself that he is in a marathon, not a 100 meter race. He embraces not only a good work ethic, but also a good Sabbath ethic. He sets finish lines at the end of a day, week or month and has the courage to power off the cell phone and computer to invest in restorative activities and spend time with his family.

So, there you have it fellow leader. How are you doing on these nine? How about picking one or two of them that speak to your current need and get serious about trusting the Lord and cooperating with the Lord for some significant transformation as you make yourself accountable?