Monday, March 26, 2007

Maximum Leadership Capacity

"In these times of unprecedented opportunity and plentiful resources, the church is actually losing influence. The primary reason is the lack of leadership. Nothing is more important than leadership." (Barna)

Lead·er·ship (noun) (Merriam-Webster)
1 : the office or position of a leader
2 : capacity to lead
3 : the act or an instance of leading

I have been pondering this word lately, or shall I say “function.” I have always considered myself a “leader.” I have been called a leader and I have functioned in many capacities as a “leader.”

However, lately I have been more concerned with the secondary and third definitions of the word “leadership.” While it is an honor to be knighted as such, I have found that many times we are “leadership” in “title” only. Have we truly considered if we are capable of functioning as a true leader? Have we even thought about what our “capacity to lead” (def. 2) may be? Additionally, are we even “acting” like a leader? Have we been caught leading- unintentionally?

As a minister I have named leadership and taught leadership. When looking for leaders, generally my husband and I would look for what we call F.A.T. people. F.A.T. stands for Faithful, Accountable, and Teachable. Those are qualities every leader, or potential leader should have most definitely. However, I want to add new criteria for leaders I lead, and especially for myself. I am adding, “maximum capacity of leadership.”

Lately I have truly questioned if I have a “maximum capacity of leadership”. Basically, I have been prayerfully asking God, “Is there a cap on my leadership? Are there areas I tend to slack off in? Is my leadership unintentional, or at times do I “make appearances?”

Every public building has a maximum capacity. If that capacity is exceeding, it gets the attention of some very important people and depending on the situation, you may get shut down!

However, when gauging the maximum capacity of one’s leadership, it is virtually the opposite. If we have a cap, that is not a good thing! Our leading capacity is never limited by size, however we can limit it. If there is a cap on our leading ability, sooner or later we will cease being effective if we do not continually strive to increase our capacity.

Recently I have asked myself some questions that have helped determine what my leadership capacity is.

1.) Do people outside of the church see me as a leader?

Do those I come into daily contact with see me as a leader? My child’s teacher? The local grocer? One thing I have learned, although it is an ongoing process, is that someone is always watching how we respond to situations. I have learned to hold my tongue because I had been witnessing to an individual and “going off” on someone, even if I am in the right, would not be a shining example of the light I was trying to shine.

You’ll know if people see you as a leader because they will approach you for advice, or they may ask you to pray for them. Sometimes, they’ll simply apologize for off color comments because they know you are a Christian. When these things happen, know that your capacity is stretching!

2.) Am I leading by example?

This is the hard one! But as I said before, people are always watching- especially in church! One thing I have always strived to do, not just as a leader, but as a Christian is be an active participant during worship services. Even when I don’t feel like it, I will make myself get up and praise and worship. I will make myself enter into corporate prayer, and I will make myself respond to the Word. Generally, after the first song, or by mid-prayer my ‘tude has taken a turn for the better. However, it is disturbing to me when I see “leaders” sitting down during praise & worship, refusing to participate until their contributing part. My thoughts on this are if you can’t praise him when you are in the congregation, don’t get up there and pull an “all out” on the platform during your solo. When this happens, you leadership capacity is on full display!

3.) What is my motivation?

Many times we led because we want a “leg up.” We want a title, or we want a position. However, when we do that, our motivation is wrong. Again, we are capping our leadership potential.

I recently asked myself, “Tara, if you never preach again, if you never stand on another platform, if you never publish your books, articles, etc., will you still be the leader God has called you to be?”

I know this may seem like a simple answer, however, I took the time to really consider it. I didn’t want to answer with the “spiritually correct” answer. I wanted to mean it. I understood that any answer other than , “yes” would reveal that my motivation had been wrong all along.

When we are motivated to lead because we desire promotion, we might as well hang a sign that says “Full to Capacity” on ourselves because we’ve just maxed out our ability to lead.

Our motivation should be nothing more than being a F.A.T., fully devoted follower of Christ with the heart to represent Him well.

In conclusion, you can rejoice with me as I am currently increasing my leadership capacity. It is something that I will continue to increase, because I don’t want to “max out.”

In my heart of hearts, I truly desire that when God looks at my “capacity” levels He’ll smile at me and say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”

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