Leadership 101

1 Thessalonians 5: 11

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.

I wrote in the spring on Hebrews 3: 13 which reads, “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Over these last four months God has been showing me, increasingly, how important it is to be an encourager. Additionally, He has shown me that encouragement is one of Jesus’ leadership traits. Before this year I would likely not have included encouragement in a list of leadership traits. I would have been wrong. The Lord is showing that in order to become the leader He has ordained you to be, you must embrace the responsibility of encouragement.

Encouragement, as we see from today’s verse, builds a person up. A large part of leadership is building up others. All too often our model of leadership is in the correcting of others. I found an amazing quote in a book I am reading. The book is Becoming the Person You Want to Be by Dr. Jim Richards. Dr. Richards wrote, “As leaders we have assumed people didn’t really want to move forward. We have blamed their lack of faith. We have questioned their commitment. We have told them they needed to try harder, pray more, cry out to God, and a plethora of other ‘spiritual gymnastics.’ But the truth is we have never given them the right key.” In other words, when people are not succeeding at the level we are or at the level we think they should be, we question their motivation, their commitment and even their faith. Richards points out that most often those people simply have not been given the appropriate tools for success.

As ministers, we can certainly be guilty of this. Our parishioners’ lack of success is a negative reflection on us. If we do not have an answer then we can easily blame the lack of success on their faith or their commitment. Perhaps, though, if the student is not learning, we should inquire of the teacher. I admit to being challenged by this passage from Dr. Richards because I want to be the leader God called me to be. Bit by bit I am learning that only comes with the power to encourage others. We must become builders of people. 

Yahweh, our Father, has called every one of us as a builder of the kingdom. The Kingdom of God, however, is not made of brick and mortar. It is not built of evangelical trips to the Congo. It is not even in the Holy Sacraments. The Kingdom of God is Yahweh’s people. Until we place a value on the building up of God’s people we will continue to miss the mark. 

Every one of you has been called to great things in the Kingdom of God. Don’t doubt it. Let us help each other to become all that God as ordained us to be. We can be the leaders, mentors and teachers who help people attain their highest ambitions. Let’s encourage one another in this pursuit.

Leadership Through Encouragement

Hebrews 3: 13

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

We all need encouragement and by this verse we might conclude that we need it daily. People need to hear that they are a blessing or that they are doing things well. I am learning that leaders are encouragers. Several times this spring God has impressed upon that a large part of leadership is encouraging others. I can’t say that I knew that before. I’ve probably heard it but it certainly never sank in. Now I see that encouragement is a key piece of leadership and effective management.

As the Father has impressed this on me I began to ask why we are not naturally better at encouraging others. I have concluded that we are not good encouragers because we are so needy ourselves. We are working so hard at getting what we need and what we want that we have little time or inclination to attend to the needs of others. It is not that we do not wish to be sources of light. It is just that we are consumed with our own stuff. We don’t even look up at others and attempt to be a blessing to them.

However, think of the people that are encouragers in your life. Their emails and phone calls are like a breath of fresh air aren’t they? You really know who these people are. They are the first ones to tell you that you did a good job. They compliment your work, your attire and everything they can find which is well done. And yet these people will never lie to you. They seem to know the value of speaking the truth. They won’t tell you something is excellent unless it is and that makes their praise even more valuable. Another thing about them is that you never have to solicit their compliments. They are free with earned praise. We love having these people in our lives. Now the next step is to become like them.

My sense is that this is an expression of the love and kindness of our Father. Encouragers have received the love of God in their hearts and they are compelled to share it with others. It just flows out from them like a river. They don’t seem to strain, they don’t have to concoct a compliment or cogitate over it. It just flows out from them easily and freely. They are satisfied that God loves them so their striving is done. They are no longer grabbing for all the comfort they can get so they are able to lift their eyes off of themselves and see the grace, beauty and hard work of others. They have peace in their souls so that they can hear the Father’s words of encouragement bubbling up inside them; then they ever so effortlessly just release those words into the lives of others.

Today I wish to celebrate all those people who extend themselves to others to keep us encouraged. I also wish to offer a prayer for all of us that our Father would fill our needy souls with the certainty of His abundant love and acceptance for us. Lastly I wish to exhort each one of you to speak a word of encouragement to someone today. Perhaps we could even make it a goal to encourage one person a day every day.