Many pastors I speak with confess that, in so many ways, they feel ill-equipped to lead a church community. Despite a great education, they don't feel as ready as they think they should, and the challenges of church life can bring the right kind of pressures that seem to expose these weaknesses.
Every person is leading in one way, or another - well or poorly. Healthy leadership is a gift and as nice as an instant download from God would be, for most leaders, this is seldom the case! (Frankly, any leader who thinks they have it all figured out is probably the leader who is immature.) Regardless, the fact remains that God qualifies those He calls. This is not some wave-of-the-wand, but the work of God in our lives to nurture and develop our leadership, and this most often occurs in the crucible of life - consider Joseph, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah and Peter to name but a few. It's in the crucible of life that our character is revealed, addressed, shaped and re-shaped. Leadership books and courses can be great resources but serve best as a supplement to humble God inspired journey of learning to lead. Leadership is an art from the heart. Healthy thinking will inform the heart and provide tools to live out your leadership in a way that honours healthy faith and practice.
God's work in each us to cultivate healthy leadership is as uniques as we are; however, there seems to be a general process to this development. Consider the stages of leadership development:
1. Unconscious Incompetence. Ignorance is bliss, right? Not! The reality for us all as we begin is that we have no idea how much we don't know. This is why humility is important, and we need to walk closely with God!
2. Conscious Incompetence is when we begin to realize that there are some things we don't know. This can be an unsettling time as much of our confidence is in our ability to control - often using what we think we know. Not knowing makes us feel vulnerable but this awareness is really a gift of God. As uncomfortable a place as this is, it can be a wonderful place to meet God and the beginning place to really grow.
3. Conscious competence is when we are able to lead well in many ways and are learning to practice the principles you have acquired. Godly mentors and coaches continue to be a help as we continue to develop. There is a greater sense of confidence as we lead. There is a sense of competency, but we are well aware there is more to learn.
4. Unconscious competence is the integration of a maturing character and practices that flow naturally from who we are as people. Truth be told, in this place there is a posture of great humility because even now, with all we have learned, we are even more acutely aware there is so much more to know. While not focused on the process itself, you naturally do the kinds of things that help you develop in character and leadership.
As we mature in leadership, we will discover that healthy Christian leadership finds its authority in relationship not office or title. It finds its power in serving others, laying down their lives and leading with their lives. Healthy leaders are custodians, stewards, and catalyst of environments that facilitate healthy, life-giving faith. Authentic Christian leadership inspires leadership in others and shares the gifts they have without manipulation. Mature Christian leaders understand the end never justifies the means. Authentic leaders seek to see others become whom they were created to be, not who we think they should be or serves us best.