A Leadership Cue Card: I want to see who they can become in Christ
Compelled by love, I will empty myself of self and live for the benefit of others. I want to see who they can become in Christ…
This next phrase just might be one of the most challenging of our entire leadership cue card. First, it is a true test of how well you are able to reject selfishness and put others first. Second, it may truly challenge your view of what is often put forward as the number one task of leadership: casting vision.
Who are the followers behind you? Do you really know them? How about the names of their spouses? Their children? What is the number one challenge facing them personally outside of work? How about their relationship with Christ? Do they have one? Is it growing or stagnant?
Have you ever considered that you might have a great responsibility to pastor or shepherd those under your influence? Is it possible that God has placed you in a position to intercede, bless, protect, care for and serve those around you that they might come to know God in a personal way? If you really want to see who they can become in Christ – to live up to their potential not in a secular, but spiritual way – you may have to lead them to the place where they respond in faith to God’s call on their lives. Are you ready to embrace that responsibility?
Once you begin to truly recognize that the people around you are created by God in His image (Gen 1:27), with a purpose in life (Ps 139, 2 Cor 4:11, Gal 2:20), and gifted and talented to fulfill that purpose (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, Eph 4), you can begin to appreciate the incredible, untapped potential of people around you. When they see themselves as God sees them, they can begin to embrace their unique identity before Him and live wholeheartedly to honor Him. Moreover, you are in a position to help them do so, if you will make a conscious effort to put them first!
Paul’s letter to the believers in the Colossian church is filled with reminders and admonitions for them to live their lives in the church and in the community. Consider these nuggets, just from chapter 3:
- you are “holy and loved,” so be compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient (12)
- accept and forgive, just as you have been forgiven (13)
- be loving, unified and thankful (14-15)
And, two of my favorite verses, “whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (17); and, “Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.” (23)
I do not think Paul was limiting these verses to our “church” life, rather, he was urging us to apply them to all areas of our lives. In fact, imagine how your workplace, family or school might be changed if these values governed the behavior of those you influence.
One final test of your ability to reject selfishness and put others first will come when you recognize that there are others around you who are better at some things than you are. In fact, someone may even be more gifted to lead, influence or serve in the role that you currently occupy. How you embrace their abilities and promote them will be a test of your leadership, and those you lead are watching. Embrace the model of John the Baptist before Christ to “decrease so that he might increase (John 3:30) and you’ll be well served.
The idea that those we influence are just as much a part of God’s plan affects one other key aspect of leadership. Many advocate that the chief role of a leader is to develop and cast vision in the organization. By vision, we mean a narrative that describes an ideal future toward which we are striving. If you consider those whom you lead, their identity in Christ, the talents and resources they bring to bear to your organization as integral parts of your team, is it reasonable to expect, beyond that, to demand, that they be a part of developing and casting vision? A humble, other-oriented, servant leader will draw his team into that discussion and hear from their unique perspectives as the vision, strategies and plans are developed. Again, imagine the untapped potential that could be released if leaders truly devoted themselves to seeing how followers might realize their full potential as they live out Christ’s example in their community.
When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem, he kept his mission low key. He did invite a “few men” with him to inspect the walls (Neh 2:12). We do not know who or how he invited them, but it is not hard for me to imagine Nehemiah listening to them as they surveyed the city. When he finally told the city leaders his idea to rebuild the walls, “they said, “Let’s start rebuilding,” and they were encouraged to [do] this good work.” Nehemiah 2:18 (HCSB) Who did the encouragement? Well, it started with Nehemiah desiring them to be who God willed them to be, and he unleashed a great potential in a great people (Neh 3).
For Reflection: Think once more of those you lead. Do you really want to see who they can become in Christ? If they don’t know Him, they won’t even know where to begin.
For Memorization: Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men. Col 3:23 HCSB