Questions & Answers on Leadership Issues

This month, I’ve preached on the topic of leadership. I’ve preached it on because I believe that in the Bible, after the Bible, in leadership positions and without leadership positions, God uses leaders. If we see a problem in the world, we should pray for our leaders, pray that God will raise up leaders, and consider leading.

Anyone can be a leader. We just need a vision of what needs to be done and the wisdom to explain it to people, do the hard things that are necessary to get there, meet people where they are, and remember that it’s a process.

In all of this, we can be assured of God’s great promise to those whom He calls to lead, “I will be with you.”

Several people in my congregation asked me questions about leadership. You can listen to some of the questions and my replies here. You can read the questions and replies below.

What do you when people won’t follow you?
First, always ask first, what’s wrong with my leadership? before you ask, what’s wrong with my followers? Second, there are sometimes that we can’t lead people forward, and we have to recognize our own human limitations and give up. Third, there are some people we have to lead that are difficult to lead. Don’t give up. Keep praying, loving, and looking for ways to move the ball down the field. You never know when God may give a breakthrough!

What is leadership success?
You can look at leadership success in a couple of different ways. You can see success in terms of an objective, e.g., did I get people to the church to clean it before Sunday? In terms of the objective, sometimes you fail. It’s important to see that our value is not based on what we accomplish but on God’s value of us and desires to use us. That doesn’t change, even if we fail.

Another way of looking at success is, did we do our duty? Jeremiah the prophet succeeded in doing his duty, even though he failed in moving the Israelites to repentance. Of course, sometimes we don’t achieve our objective and don’t do our duty. God still loves and wants to use us, even when we don’t do our duty in leading. That’s the glory of God’s grace.

If anyone can be a leader, does that mean I’m in charge and can tell everybody what do?
No. You can lead, but you may not be in a leadership position. Also, telling people what to do is not a great leadership tool anyway. Conversation, example, creativity, encouragement, and vision-casting are much better tools.

What is leadership like in abnormal times?
The fundamentals aren’t different. You still have to connect with people and know where they are, where they need to go, and how to get them there. Abnormal times can be bad times in which all of these things are harder. They can also be good times in which these things are particularly easy.

How can we be absolutely certain that God is calling us to lead in a particular situation?
I don’t know if we can be absolutely certain. We have to do our best to look at our circumstances, opportunities, God’s commands, and our gifts. On the other hand, if we are wrong, it’s OK. There’s always a fresh start with God.

How do you narrow things down with so many worthy pursuits?
Prayerfully and with good counsel consider what God is asking of you, what your gifts are, and what your best opportunities are. Don’t get paralyzed by indecision, though. God has called us to do significant things, and He is always forgiving when we get it wrong. So, think and pray about it, but not too long.

What do you do if someone else feels called to take the same leadership role?
Unless you see some very important reason why you should take the lead or they shouldn’t, then let the other person do it. That would seem to be what humility requires (see Phil. 2:3–4). Plus, that give you the opportunity to do other things.

Does the leader have to know where to go and how to get there?
Eventually. However, it usually develops over time. If you are in a leadership position, then it’s generally best to do this in consultation with the people you are leading. It’s a general axiom: no input, no buy in.

Why do you believe that each individual Christian is called to be a leader?
Christians are called to do good works. Any good work that involves people involves moving them from where they are to doing something different. This requires leadership. Consequently, all Christians should seek to be better leaders.

How should we respond to leaders we disagree with?
I think we should feel free to share our disagreement with people. We just need to do it in the right way and at the right time. I think 1 Peter 2:17 gives us good guidance: “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

In addition, sometimes disagreement gets so bad we have to leave. Other times, we disagree and can’t leave. I think Paul’s advice to slaves fits here: “Were you a slave when you were called? Don’t let it trouble you—although if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lord’s freed person; similarly, the one who was free when called is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings” (1 Cor. 7:21–23).

Do those with particular leadership gifts have greater responsibility?
Yes. To whom much is given, much is required.

How important is passion to a leader?
Very. If you’re not passion about where you’re leading, why would anybody else be? On the other hand, as Scott Berkun notes in his book Confessions of a Public Speaker concerning public speaking: “Even if your topic is only interesting to you, if you express your passion well, the audience will want to follow simply because of your enthusiasm” (163).

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