Here is a synopsis of our training methods for leaders and, the building up of teams around them.
Investing in Others:
We look to Jesus as our role model for the good leader. His blueprint for building a good team was to spend as much time as he could with each and every member. He enjoyed the company of these people, young or old, rich or poor, male or female. In fact he considered each one of them to be his ‘friend’… not just a servant. And so, over time, by being around him, they became just like him. This inclusive model of leadership can be counter intuitive to the corporate minded leader who often feels that his/her time is just ‘too valuable’ to waste on those below them. Our philosophy at Planted by the Water… is that when hospitality governs, people feel included and become, even without being asked, invested in the project or mission.
Choosing the Right People:
Staying with the Jesus model of leadership, its important to take note of the fact that, rather than simply taking over the team of John the Baptist (after he was written out of the story), Jesus began with a clean slate. With an eye for his own purposes and vision he handpicked the people he wanted in his team and, because they were all ‘new to this’ (having been ignored by all the other rabbi’s of the time)… they weren’t carrying the baggage of ‘how things use to be’. They were teachable and malleable and for the most part, they were soon able follow him through thick and thin, through good times and bad.
I often work as a producer on both music and film projects, and though I may be the boss in the studio, I know that, to get a great performance out of the singer, musician or actor, part of my role is to serve them, or be there for them, especially when they are feeling vulnerable or nervous. I may run an errand, or make the tea or coffee, or if I notice a technical problem (that may have been their fault) I’ll fix it for them… all of which may seem extremely menial to many, shall we say, more driven leaders. But I have a role model… the servant leader, the one who washed the feet of his team members and did everything possible to make them shine. That’s part of a leader’s job.
Lead From the Front:
If you are a leader and you want something from your team, then you best be doing it yourself before you ask it of them. Communities that are able foster creativity and or enjoy a depth in their worship expression (both artistically and spiritually) usually have leaders that value these things themselves. Generous, loving, gracious and inclusive church communities tend to have have leaders that lead from the front… who demonstrates these characteristics in their day to lives.
Allow People to Make Mistakes:
Reading history we discover that some of our most beloved leaders, at one time or another, stumbled or fell, often enduring the most public of humiliations. Some of these mistakes were BIG and I doubt that many of us could have say, welcomed the apostle Peter back into the fold, especially after he had publicly denied having any association with us or our ministry. And what about David and his shenanigans with Bathsheba and the ensuing soap opera? Whew! I’m glad that didn’t happen under my watch! It is worth considering however, both Peter and David’s responses when they realized they had been forgiven. They ran back to God and became lifelong followers. Just as real love covers a multitude of sins, true leadership loves and rebuilds broken lives. I bear the fruit of many second chances. How about you?
Many leaders are taught to distance themselves from their followers and thus struggle to develop ‘real’ friendships amongst their own community. But this is a falsehood and me thinks quite unimaginable in the Jesus mold of leadership. We all need friends, people close enough to notice when we are veering off our calling or, dare I say it, the straight and narrow. A good friend knows how to share in the celebration during the good and stand beside us during the bad. A pastor from a mega church once visited our church conference and was taken back by how familiar we all were together. From the most senior minister down to those occupying the back ‘pews’, we were friends, enjoying meals and vacations together, able to laugh at and with each other in public. This sounds like a healthy family to me.
A good leader is a whole person. Not stressed, over worked, undervalued or under-appreciated, but functioning in a role that suits his/her skills and gifts. This good leader knows how to look after him or herself, making space in the calendar everyday, for downtime, exercise, quality moments with spouse, kids and whenever possible, their own good friends. This good leader carves out his/her best time each day to be alone with God. And this good leader finds the ‘raising up and or development of other leaders’ a natural bi-product of his/her life.