In my experience, any significant endeavor in sports, music, business or ministry has a few essentials that, if paid attention to, can make all the difference and, if ignored, can create all the dangers. Generally speaking, there are not dozens of “essentials” in any arena of life. There are probably less than ten.
Recently, in my daily Bible reading, I ran across 2 Timothy 2:14 in The Message which reads: “Repeat these basic essentials over and over to God’s people.” (Emphasis mine)
I began to think of what a handful of essentials for a leader might be. Perhaps you will think of a few of your own. If so, please comment and let me hear from you.
Here are six that I thought of:
1. Have both your identity in Jesus and experience continuous intimacy with Jesus
It all starts Jesus, ends with Jesus and is sustained by Jesus. Don’t let anyone or anything take the place of Jesus in your heart and affections. “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it are the issues of life.” Proverbs 4:23
2. Discover your purpose and make sure that the best of who God made you to be constitutes the most of what you do from day to day
Helping clients get increasing clarity on their life purpose is one of the issues I deal with early in the coaching process. It sets the stage for direction, decisions, and priorities as well as contributes immensely to a leader’s enthusiasm and vitality. Marcus Buckingham says: “Make the best of your job the most of your job.” Having the Lord make clear to you what your specific life purpose is will be absolutely essential to being a leader who lasts.
3. Build teams with the right people
I love Jim Collins’ thought of getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats. A good leader will build teams of people to invest in and work through and, thereby, increase the overall contribution.
It’s not just a catchy acronym, but a glorious truth.
4. Learn to delegate decision-making authority so you can stick to what only you can and should do
The leader of a “true team” will not just give assignments and tasks to team members but will delegate the authority to make decisions. When this begins to happen it’s a whole new ball game for you and the team. This frees you to focus on things that only you can do. Many leaders are bogged down with details and assignments that others could be doing, should be doing and would love to be doing if asked and trained to do so.
5. Don’t allow yourself to have too many direct reports so you can have quality time with them
When the group, church or organization grows there is a tendency to keep adding more direct reports (DR). This is a sure fire way to burn-out and will also lower the morale of your DRs.
Low morale is due to the fact that when you have too many direct reports (coupled with the possibility that you are making most of the decisions yourself), your DRs will not be able to get the time with you that they need. Do your best to keep DRs to five or less. I know of one church with 6,000 in weekend attendance where the lead pastor has three direct reports.
6. Practice Sabbath as a principle, not just a day
Burn-out, exhaustion and perennial tiredness is epidemic in the leadership world I live and minister in. Leaders are overwhelmed and over committed. They are chasing their own tail lights in the traffic of life. They are traveling too fast and trying to do too much and, in many cases, for the wrong reasons. As leaders, we all need to practice Sabbath as a principle–not just a day. By His grace, we need to learn to live each day with a margin and times of disengagement. The chances of you doing this will be much higher if you have a good team(s) and delegate decision-making authority to those on your team.
What essentials would you add to these six?