I’ve been a leader now for most of my career. It’s hard to make sense of how I got here being that my journey begun with a degree in vocal performance, but that’s a story for a different day (or blog). My point is, I really didn’t strive this calling; it called me. I have been challenged by it and I have been knocked down by it. But mostly I have been filled beyond what I could ever fathom by the people and experiences God has brought me to and through during my leadership journey.
Leadership becomes even more crucial in times like these, but not for why you think. Yes, strong strategy, planning, and decision-making is so important during challenging times, but more importantly there are attributes I believe a leader must have to make a difference in the long run. In the end, no matter what decision is made, there will be people that agree with you and people who don’t. There will always be multiple strategies that succeed and multiple that fail. And all the planning in the world is sometimes never enough for what you are about to face.
You must show up. No matter how you feel or what you believe today you must show up. Why? Because sometimes your presence speaks volumes. I’m not speaking of authority but of heart and authenticity that helps your team unite, pull together, and face challenges head on.
Showing up in whatever state you are in allows the Lord to do His work through you, despite the unknowns and hard times you face. It’s truly a beautiful thing but it’s hard. We must always remember leadership is not about us. So, we show up and give whatever we have left to give.
“He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30
Resiliency. It is quite the buzz word these days. The truth is resilient leaders are a special breed of people. Today the world gets a say and opinion in every move a leader makes. Their failures are put on display and their successes are negotiable depending on who you talk to. There are times when I feel like I just can’t win. But that doesn’t mean I want to quit.
Resiliency is more than just letting the tough days roll off you shoulders. It’s putting them into a healthy perspective. For me, it’s allowing Jesus and the gospel to be my filter. It’s knowing that this calling is not personal, it’s spiritual, and trusting that I’m not in it alone. This gives me the ability to fail and return or to just keep going when my heart is breaking.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23
Lead with love. I believe love is the most important leadership attribute. However, we live in a world that is suffering from a deficit of true love and therefore is hard to find in a leader. I have learned the benefit of truly loving your people is an investment worth making over and over again. Because of this, God has grown me into a better listener, a more collaborative decision maker, and a patient peacemaker.
Leadership is about the people God has called you to care for, develop, and leverage for His purposes. When you allow yourself to truly love the people under your care, they are more likely to survive these storms and implement innovative solutions to new challenges. They are more likely to lean into conflict with one another and move forward stronger because of it. Leading with love allows safety to enter in, and the team feels comfortable making decisions on their own, taking risks, and thinking outside the box.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Love is our secret ingredient for leadership here at Bridgehaven. It’s not superficial or cheap. It’s rooted in the love Jesus offers us. The more we grow in Him, the stronger our love for one another becomes. For me, leadership has become a “higher purpose.” I will serve in this capacity not until I feel I am done or when I feel its too hard. I will serve until the Lord says I am released from it. With His blessing I hope that’s not for a really…really long time.
I pray for leaders today. Lord, help us to lead well, uniting our teams and uplifting a high purpose. Help us to open our hearts as leaders and allow our teams to feel that love. I pray the burden of our hearts and minds would be released to the Lord and a new peace would be found. I pray for less of ourselves and more of Christ to fill us, strengthen us, and overflow to our teams. Amen.