The Skills of Leadership part 3
THE SKILLS OF LEADERSHIP
Pastor William D. Tyree, III
October 25, 2005
“The one who serves you best will be your leader.” Luke 22:26 (LB)
HOW TO LEAD OTHERS LIKE JESUS
1. GIVE THEM ____________________________________________.
“I have given you an example to follow. Now do as I have done to you.” John 13:15 (NLT)
“Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your good example.” 1 Peter 5:3 (NLT)
“…set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Tim. 4:12 (NIV)
2. CHALLENGE THEM ______________________________________.
“Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you’ll have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me.” Mark 10:21b (NJB)
“Jesus sent the disciples out with these instructions… ‘Go announce the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!’” Matt. 10:7-8 (NLT)
“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Matt. 28:19-20 (NIV)
3. AFFIRM THEM _________________________________________.
“Jesus looked steadily at him and He was filled with love for him.” Mark 10:21a (NJB)
“Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” John 14:12 (NIV)
“A word of encouragement does wonders.” Pr. 12:25 (LB)
4. TRUST THEM __________________________________________.
“I am giving you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven, and whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.”
Matt. 16:19 (NLT)
“Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot.” Luke 16:10 (NCV)
“If you love someone ... you will always believe in him, and always expect the best of him...” 1 Cor. 13:7 (LB)
5. OFFER THEM __________________________________________.
“‘It was because you do not have enough faith,’ answered Jesus. ‘I assure you that if you have faith as small as a mustard seed… you could do anything!’” Matt. 17:20 (TEV)
“Don’t use harmful words... Use only helpful words, the kind that build up...”
Eph. 4:29 (GN)
6. TREAT THEM ___________________________________________.
“I do not call you servants… Instead, I call you friends.” John 15:15 (TEV)
“When Christ, who is your real life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all His glory!” Col. 3:4 (NLT)
7. ________________________________FOR THEM.
“I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” Luke 22:32 (NIV)
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me because of their testimony.” John 17:20 (NLT)
THE SKILLS OF LEADERSHIP
Pastor William D. Tyree, III
October 25, 2005
We’re continuing the series on “21st Century Living.” One of the greatest myths about leadership is that leaders are born. They are not born. Leaders are made. Some people think, “I was born a leader,” or “I'm not born a leader.” And that’s it. No, no! Leaders are made. They’re made by two things. They’re made by choices and they’re made by circumstances. When you make the right choices in the right circumstances you too will be a great leader.
Remember what I said when we started this series that leadership in one word is the word “influence.” Every time you have interaction with anybody, even if it’s just a conversation, you are influencing them. So you are a leader already. The question is not are you going to be a leader or not. The question is are you a good one or a lousy one? Are you an intentional one or an unintentional one? Everybody here today is a leader. The issue is what kind of leader are you?
Today we’re going to look at the third in this series of The Skills of Leadership. Seven skills that Jesus modeled. And, by the way, He was the only perfect leader. If you have to be perfect to be a leader then none of us would ever lead. God uses us in spite of ourselves. God uses ordinary people. So you don’t have to be perfect, you don't have to have it all together to be a leader. But you do have to make some choices. These are seven choices in the way that you can choose to act. You can use this material whether you’re a mother or father, a sister or brother, whether you’re in school, married, unmarried. You can use it for leading the people in your life for good and for God.
The Bible says this in Luke 22:26 “Jesus said, ‘The one who serves you best will be your leader.’” Notice it’s serving that’s leadership. It’s not demanding. It’s not requiring people. It’s serving others. Another word for being a leader is a people-builder. Leaders are people builders. There are seven skills in people building. And they’re all modeled by Jesus.
1. Give them an example
If you want to be a people builder, if you want to be a leader, you must give people an example. Leadership begins with you and your life. It begins with living. And those who lead right are those who live right. If you’re going to be a leader you’ve got to look at your own life and say, What does my life model? What can I be an example in? If I want to be a leader, I’ve got to start with me.
Why? Because you can only take a person as far as you have gone yourself. You can’t take them past where you already are. So you’ve got to work on you. You’ve got to model what you want other people to do.
Jesus never asked anybody to do anything that He hadn’t already done and was already doing. The Bible says this in John 13:15 “I’ve given you an example to follow. Now do as I have done to you.” Jesus said, I did it. Now you do it. In this particular case He had just washed the feet of the disciples, modeling servanthood. He said, I did it now you guys do it.
The problem today is we don’t know the difference between a leader and a boss. They are not the same. Dictators demand. Leaders model. You lead not by fiat, not by dictate. You lead by example. The Bible says “Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care but lead by your good example.” We’re to lead by example.
What do we need to model? What do we need to be an example of?
In the next verse it gives us five specifics. “Set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity.” If you want to be a leader you want to work on these five areas of your life. In speech. How do I talk to people? In life. How do I live my life? In love. Do I really show love to other people? In faith. Do I really trust God? In purity. Do I live a life of integrity? These are the things that God says I want you to model. And Jesus gave us an example in all five areas.
Before we can look at the other six we have to settle this issue. Will I choose to follow Christ? Will I choose to be a model? You can’t be a leader like Jesus until first you know Jesus Christ. So the question is, will I choose to be an example?
Leadership is a choice. It starts by making choices that other people choose not to make. Anybody can be a leader. The issue is do I choose to be one? Do I choose to be a good one? What do I do? First, you do what Jesus did. You set the example.
The second thing Jesus did, if you want to be a leader…
2. You must give people a greater purpose.
Challenge them to a greater purpose. That’s what leaders do. They help us see beyond ourselves. They get our thinking off of our bodies, ourselves, and help us think in a bigger way. They challenge us to a greater cause, to a greater purpose, to a greater project. They catch a vision to enlist to a greater cause.
Why is this important? We need leaders. I need leaders in my life and you need leaders in your life. Why? Because we all need people that force us to think beyond ourselves. By nature I'm a pretty selfish person. I could pretty easily just say, I’ll make money, retire, and die, and just feather my nest and forget about the rest of you. It’s quite easy to live a self centered life. Leaders force us to go beyond ourselves to get a cause greater than ourselves that force us beyond ourselves to do what we could do. We need people in our lives that push us whether we know we could or think we couldn’t but God knows we could. They force us to be what we can be.
We only grow when we are challenged. Everybody needs a challenge. You always need a challenge in your life. If you don’t have a challenge you’re coasting. And when you’re coasting there’s only one way to coast – down hill. So if you’re coasting in life right now your life is going down. Not up. It’s going down. Because you’re coasting. So you always need a challenge in your life.
What leaders do is they challenge other people and they bring out the best in them. And they challenge them to a greater purpose. You have to have a challenge in your life. That’s why so many men die pretty quickly after retirement because they haven’t thought through, What am I going to do with my life after I quit work? And a life without challenge is a life with no reason to exist.
So you always have to have a challenge in your life where you’re going. Jesus constantly challenged people. Why? He stretched them. He was always challenging them to do something with their life. Make your life count. Do something great with your life. Don’t just waste it.
He also knew, because everybody’s unique, everybody needs a different kind of challenge. Leaders realize that what works with one person won’t work with another or another. You have to challenge people differently because we’re all different.
Three examples in the next three Bible verses:
Sometimes Jesus challenges your priorities.
How does He challenge your priorities? If he hasn’t done this already He’s going to in your life at some point. Jesus will challenge your priorities by asking you to give up something: “I want you to give up this for something better. For something greater. For the good of others. I want you to give up this to get this.” That is the challenge of priorities.
One day a wealthy young CEO was walking down the street. He sees Jesus and he says, “Lord, I want my life to count.” (In so many words.) This guy had everything. He had achieved success. He had wealth. He had fame. He had pleasure. He had everything he wanted at a fairly young age. But he was bored. He thought, there’s got to be more to life than this, than I'm living right now. You were made for success. You were made for significance.
A lot of you are like this young CEO. You have achieved at a fairly early age what it took your parents a lifetime to achieve. You say, “I’ve got it made. Now what?” I’ve achieved the ladder of success, now what? There’s got to be more to life than just success. There is. Far more.
So this CEO comes to Jesus and says, “What do I need to do with my life? How do I make my life count? How do I inherit eternal life?
Jesus gave him the challenge of priorities. He says to him, “Go and sell what you own and give the money to the poor and you’ll have treasure in heaven. Then come follow Me.” It’s interesting that in the entire Bible, Jesus never said this to anybody else. Jesus doesn’t say to all of us, “Go sell everything you have and give it to the poor and follow Me.” No. He said it to this one guy. Why? Because it was a unique challenge because it hit that guy’s button. Jesus knew that that guy lived for money. He lived for wealth. So He hit it right where the guy had the toughest need – at his priorities. He said, “Ok, here’s a challenge. Go give everything you have to the poor and come follow Me. And you’ll have something better – treasure in heaven that’s going to go on forever and ever and ever.” He challenges his priorities.
God will do that to you some time. It may not be go give your money to the poor. But it will be in some area: I want you to give up this in order to get this.
The second way that Jesus challenges is He challenges our faith.
First He challenges our priority, give up something that’s meaningful. Then He says I want to challenge your faith. How does He do that? By asking you to do something that is impossible. That’s how He stretches your faith.
Notice this next verse, “Jesus sent the disciples out with these instructions, ‘Go announce the kingdom of heaven is near. [That’s pretty easy. And, by the way,..] Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received.” Would you call that a challenge? I think so! He says give as freely as you have received. You have been blessed. You are blessed to be a blessing. I want you to give out to others. I’ve blessed your life, now you give to others. He said, I want you to do these things. And while you’re at it, raise a few dead people, cast out a few demons, do a few really cool things!
How would you feel if Jesus had said that to you? You’d go, “No way, Jose! I can’t do that. That’s impossible.” And Jesus would say, “Right! You’re right. You can’t. That’s why you need My Spirit in you.”
Jesus will test your faith by asking you to do something that seems impossible: “I want you to go and ask forgiveness of that person.” I can’t do that God. “I want you to start tithing.” I can’t afford that, God. “I want you to go and talk to that person about Me.” I can’t do that, God.
He’s going to challenge your faith by stretching you and asking you to do something that in your human logic seems impossible.
Remember the message the lessons of the loaves. Five thousand people had been hearing Jesus all day. They got hungry. The disciples wanted to cast the responsibility off on somebody else. “Lord, send them all home! They’re hungry.” And Jesus looked at the disciples and said, “You feed them.” That was the test of faith. Asking the disciples to do something that seemed impossible. There was no way twelve guys could feed 5000 guys. Jesus was saying, “I'm testing your faith. You feed them. You make the first effort and watch what happens. I can take a little and turn it into a miracle. But you’ve got to start.”
God’s going to do that with you.
There’s a third way He challenges us. He challenges our small thinking.
He challenges our small thinking by giving us a greater vision. He says, I want you to think bigger than just your little tiny self centered world. “Go and make disciples of all nations. Baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.”
When Jesus told His followers to go to all nations it was physically impossible. When Jesus gave this command there was no way they could do it. There were no planes, trains, and automobiles. There were no ocean bearing ships they could sail on. There was no way they could even get to the whole world at this point in history. He’s giving them an impossible situation. But He’s saying, I want to expand your vision. I want to break down your prejudices. I want you to think globally.
Why? Because that’s why you’re here. You’re not here to watch history. You’re here to make history. That’s why God chose you to be a part of this church. “But I can’t!” Of course you can’t… on your own. Not on your own power. Not on your own finances. But you don’t know what God can do through you.
My task as a leader here is to help you see the whole world. This command is for us. He says, “I'm going to spread it all around.”
Let me give you a little advice. Ever single person in your life, everybody you know has the same need. They hunger for a higher purpose. Everybody. Everybody hungers for a higher purpose. They want to know, There’s got to be more to life than just go to school, get a job, get married, retire, die. There’s a whole lot more. They’re looking for that cause, that purpose, that vision that stretches our ability, that makes us what we can be. It is a great vision that makes great people. It turns ordinary people into great people.
So God says, I put you on earth for My purpose not your own purpose – for Mine!
Practically, how do you do this? How do you bring out the best in other people. How do you challenge other people to a greater cause that causes them to use the talents that they’ve been wasting? There are four practical ways.
1. Think. You have to take time to think about who’s in your life that you want to help. What you have to know is that every person in your life is there for a reason. No body is in your life as an accident. Some of the people in your life, God put them there to lead you. Other people in your life, God put you in their life to lead them. So who is there is your life that God intends for you to lead. Maybe it’s a co-worker, maybe your spouse, maybe a child, maybe a friend, maybe a neighbor. Who is that person that you would like to help in their life?
If a name came to mind go ahead and just write it down write now so you don’t forget who that is. Who is that person that God wants you to think about how you can help them?
2. The second thing you do is pray. When you pray you’re asking God for insights into the strengths of that person. You’re going to ask God about that because God knows more about their shape than you do. Or even more about their shape than they know. God knows how He has put them together in order to have that higher purpose in life. So you pray. And say, God, help me to know what strength, what talent, what ability that’s in this person’s life that I need to encourage.
3. Then third you ask. You think, you pray, and then you ask. Ask yourself after you’ve prayed, where do I see potential in this person’s life? What talent do they have that needs to be shared with the world? What ability do they have that needs to be taken to the next level? What strength do they have that if they don’t use it, the world is going to miss out on something and they’re going to miss out on their higher purpose?
4. The fourth thing you do is the most critical and it’s also the most difficult. That is suggest. Think, pray, ask, suggest. You suggest a project. You suggest a challenge in that person’s life that would help develop more of who they are and who God intends for them to be. There’s a simple question that you ask to do this. It’s a question that says, “Have you ever thought about…” That simple question can help change the course of a person’s life.
I want to pray for you now. I want to pray two things. One, that you will have the courage to be the leader in somebody’s life that God intends for you to be. And second, that they’ll be receptive to your leadership.
Father, it is Your intention for all of us to be leaders. Sometimes that is a frightening task. But, God, it’s Your design. So I pray for courage. I pray for courage for every person here today that they will do those steps. That they will take time to think and pray and ask and then the critical step of suggesting. Of making that challenge in a person’s life. I know that we’re afraid to do that sometimes God so my prayer is that when we do that You’ll make the person receptive to hear what we have to say so that they will discover that higher purpose that You have for them. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Here’s the third thing you’re going to have to do if you’re going to learn to be a leader.
3. Affirm people for their potential
You give them an example, you challenge them to a greater purpose, then you affirm them for their potential.
When somebody believes in you and somebody affirms you it causes you to do more than you think you can do. When somebody says, “I believe in you! You can do this. I know you can do this.” They believe in you, what that does is it causes you to have courage and it brings out the best in you.
Back in the 40s and the 50s the Green Bay Packers were such a loser team. Over twelve years they only won thirty percent of their games. They lost seventy percent of the time. Twelve years in a row – terrible record. In 1958 they had an embarrassing one win and ten loses. But the very next year they got a new coach. His name was Vince Lombardi. Over the next nine years they had nine winning seasons. They won seventy-five percent of their games. They won five national championships in a row, including the first two superbowls.
What happened? What turned a losing team with twelve years of failure into the most winning team for nine years in a row? How in the world did that happen?
They got a leader. And they got a leader who believed in their potential. He set an example. He challenged them with a greater purpose. And he believed in their potential. He affirmed them. He said, “You guys can do this. You’re better than this. I know. You’re not losers, you’re winners. You can do this.” And they started winning.
You need somebody in your life that’s pushing you. Have you got anybody in your life that pushes you spiritually? Who stirs you? Are you doing that with anybody else? Are you affirming the potential of other people?
As a leader you can do this. You know you can affirm people just by the way you look at them. Just by looking people in the eye. There’s very little eye contact today. When you look people in the eye and you talk with them directly you’re saying, “I value you. You matter to me. You’re worth giving my time for.” When you look people in the eye, you’re saying, “I'm listening. You’re important.” Attention is one of the greatest acts of love. When you look people in the eye and you don’t just blow them off but you really pay attention to them, you can actually affirm them.
Jesus modeled this. The Bible says in Mark 10:21. He’s talking to this wealthy CEO, the young guy I told you about earlier. “Jesus looked steadily at him and He was filled with love for him.” Circle “steadily.” That means He didn’t just give him a casual glance. He didn’t glance, He gazed. He wasn’t in a hurry. He gazed at this guy and the Bible says He loved him and paid attention to him and that expressed value.
Here’s the truth. Everybody in your life, all the people you come in contact with, every single one of them, have enormous potential. Everybody in your life has far more potential than they realize or than you realize. The reason we miss it is we’re in a hurry. We’re in a hurry. So we blow right past them. We hear them but we don’t gaze, we don't look. We don't pay attention and size them up and go, “God, what do You want to do in this person’s life?” Why don't you try that this week? When you’re talking to somebody at work or in your neighborhood or a friend. And they’re talking, you look them in the eye and you go (in your mind ) “God, what do You want to do in this person’s life? How could You use me to affirm them to make them better than they are? To help them go to the next step, to the next level?”
There’s a phrase for that – people building. There’s an even better word for that – leadership. Leaders bring out the best in other people.
Here’s the key for affirming the potentials of others. You want to bring out the best in your children? You want to bring out the best in your wife, your husband, your friend, your girlfriend – whatever? Treat them the way you want them to become, not the way they are. You want your wife to treat you like a king? Treat her like a queen. Labeling just reinforces things. Labeling doesn’t work. But positive labeling has tremendous impact. You treat them the way you want them to become.
Jesus one day walks up to Peter who is Mr. Impetuous, Mr. Impulsive, My Foot in the Mouth. This is the guy who is so wishy-washy. He says, “Let me walk on water.” Then he sinks. He says, “I’ll never deny You!” Then he denies Jesus three times. He says, “I’ll defend You.” And he cuts off the ear of a soldier and Jesus goes, “Chill out, Peter! Don’t you think I can handle this?” He’s always letting his actions get ahead of his mind, and his mouth gets ahead of everything else. He’s Mr. Impulsive. And Peter, whose name was Petras, Jesus said “You’re going to be Petros.” Petras means pebble. (By the way, it’s where we get the word petroleum from – petros, the rock) He says, you’re a pebble. You’re going to be petros – the rock. The rock of Gibraltar, steady, unmovable, unchanging. An icon of stability. Peter was anything but an icon of stability. Yet Jesus looks at him and goes Peter, I see in you the potential to be a rock. A rock for God. Nothing can move you. You are solid as a rock. He brought out his potential.
Jesus looks the same way at you. When God looks down at you He doesn’t go, “I really messed up on that one, didn’t I? Then they took it to the second level and messed up with a bunch of dumb choices.” No, God looks at you and He sees the spark and He says, “I see what you can become.”
Labeling doesn’t work. Nagging never works. And, by the way, it doesn’t work from the pulpit either. That’s why we don’t use it here.
But if somebody comes to you or to me or to anybody and says, “I see in you the potential for greatness. It’s greater than you have ever even imagined. You’ve never thought of yourself in these terms. But God wants to turn you into a spiritual mature woman of God. God wants to turn you into a spiritually strong man of God. I see in you the potential that you could be a leader that influences everybody that you come in contact with. Everybody. You have, with Jesus Christ in your life and His Spirit living in you day by day, you could influence people for good and for God in a way that you can’t even imagine. If you just make those choices to be a leader.” That motivates me – maybe I could. Maybe I could do that.
A lot of people say, “I just believe in telling it like it is.” That’s a cruddy way to live. Don't tell it like it is. That just reinforces the negative. Tell it like it could be. That’s faith. Tell it like it could be. “I see in you this potential.” Tell it like it could be. “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”
Jesus did it. After He gave all these assignments about go out and heal the sick and raise the dead and cure people and stuff like that He says this in John 14 “Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I’ve been doing. In fact, he will even do greater things than Me because I'm going to My father.” That’s affirmation. He said, You guys can do what I did. I know you can do it. In fact, you’re going to do greater things than I did.
How is that possible? How is it possible for Christians today to do greater things than Jesus?
I’ll tell you why. We do it through prayer which has no limit. I can pray right now and effect somebody in Bangladesh. I can pray right now and effect somebody in Belgium. When Jesus Christ was here on earth, when God was in human flesh, He was limited to that one location. Jesus could only be in one place at a time. But when He goes back to heaven and He puts His Spirit in me and in you and a billion other believers then now He can be everywhere. He can be in me and you, somebody down the street, somebody in Mexico, somebody in Russia. He can be doing things all over the world at the same time because He’s in all of His followers. That’s much greater work.
But Jesus says I believe in you guys. I'm building your confidence. You’ll do what I’ve done and you’ll do even greater things. Great leaders make people feel great. That’s what they do.
Part of leadership is helping people recognize their uniqueness. God didn’t make you to be like anybody else. He made you to be you. Part of the job for a leader, for me for instance, is to help you recognize your uniqueness and part of your job as a leader is to help other people recognize their uniqueness.
Those of you who are parents… God did not intend for you to make your children in your image. He doesn’t want little mini-me’s of you. No. Your job as a parent is not to mold kids in your image but to help them discover what God made them to be. People are not things to be molded, they are lives to be unfolded. How are they unfolded? Through affirmation. Not through criticism. Through affirmation.
Proverbs 12:25 “A word of encouragement does wonders.” Ken Blanchard who wrote The One Minute Manager and a bunch of other books he always says, Catch people doing something right. We always do the opposite. We catch them doing something wrong. But catch people doing something right and affirm it.
I have kept a little file I call My Encouragement File. In that Encouragement File any time anybody graciously writes me a word of encouragement I keep it. I don’t keep any critical letters. They go in the wastebasket immediately. But I keep all the encouraging letters. I put them in this file. Then when I’m feeling discouraged or I'm feeling tired, kind of down, I pull out that file and I pull out all the notes I’ve collected over all the years. And I read both of those notes over and over and over and over. I read them and it cheers me up knowing that at least once in my life, both my mother and my wife thought I did something right.
You need an Encouragement File. You do! More than that, this is a mark of leadership. You need to be contributing to other people’s encouragement file. Every time you encourage other people, you are leading. You’re a leader. And everybody needs to be encouraged.
Let me give you some ways to encourage. First encouragement has to be real. Real. You can’t give phony, fake encouragement. It has to be genuine. It has to be from the heart, not manipulative. You really mean it. It’s sincere. It’s genuine.
Second, the encouragement needs to be regular. Don’t be stingy with encouragement. Give it out all the time. Tell the people you work with. Encourage the people. Encourage your family. Encourage your friends. Encourage your small group. Give it real and give it regular.
Then it needs to be recognizable. Be specific. Don’t just say, “I like you.” Tell them why you like them. Be specific. It needs to be recognizable.
A fourth thing is it’s good sometimes to have it written. Actually write it down. Send an email. Write a note. When you write a note it says, I took the time to care.
You know who is the best pro at written encouragement – the apostle Paul. He wrote encouragement letters and it’s now called the New Testament. In every letter of the New Testament that Paul wrote he goes, “I believe in you guys. I know that you can do this. I have confidence in you. What God began in you He’s going to keep on doing.” Never underestimate the power of a simple little note.
There’s a fourth leadership skill that we learn from Jesus.
4. Trust them with responsibility.
Trust people with responsibility because nothing develops you faster than having somebody trust you with responsibility.
People respond to responsibility. The truth is our expectations have an incredible influence on others. More than you’d ever expect or realize. Research tells us that people tend to live up to what is expected of them. What are you expecting of the people around you, the people that you love, the people that you lead?
Look at the example of Jesus. The Bible says in Matthew 16:19 He said to His disciples, “I'm giving you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you lock on earth will be locked in heaven. And whatever you open on earth will be opened in heaven.” Talk about responsibility! He’s talking about people’s hearts. He’s saying, “I'm giving you the good news. You share it with people, it’s going to unlock their hearts and they’re going to be with Me in the kingdom of heaven for eternity. If you don’t share it they’re not going to know it.”
Jesus is saying, “I'm going to be resurrected and I’m going back to heaven. I'm leaving this responsibility of people’s eternal relationship with Me in your hands. And there is no Plan B. It is your responsibility.”
Jesus gives us incredible responsibility. Did Jesus know that we sometimes fail, that we as people sometime fail in our responsibilities? Of course. He’s God. He knows that. But part of bringing out the best in people is realizing they’re going to fail. In fact, allowing them to fail. Our tendency of all of us as human beings is to want to protect people from making mistakes. We want to make sure that no mistakes happen. Then if any mistakes happen we want to rush in real quickly and bail them out of those mistakes. But the truth is, if people are going to learn in my life and your life one of the jobs of a leader is to trust people with responsibilities where sometimes they might even fail. When we bail people out it prevents them from learning valuable lessons.
The fact is failure is a part of life. We’ve all failed. We’ve all experienced failure in life. For you who are parents this is incredibly important. Parents, let me just remind you. Failure isn’t fatal. I would rather have our kids fail sometimes at home when we give them responsibility than wait and fail and not know how to handle it. Not knowing how to respond to it when they get outside of our home. Failure isn’t fatal.
I see some kids setting out there. If you’re thinking, “I'm going to tell my parents Pastor said it’s ok to get an F because failure isn’t fatal.” If you’re thinking that you’re smart enough to get an A.
We do need to give the opportunity for people to fail. That’s part of responsibility. A survey of grandparents was done and the question was, “What would you do differently as you raised your kids?” Their number one answer was, “I’d do less for my children and teach them to do more for themselves.”
Of course, you have to give people gradual steps of responsibility. Jesus did that. Luke 16:10 the Bible says “Whoever can be trusted with a little can also be trusted with a lot.” One of the most important life skills that anybody’s going to learn is accepting responsibility and the only way to learn it is by giving and being given the opportunity. And Jesus teaches us to do that.
When you take responsibility for others, you take responsibility away from them. That’s not leading. That’s doing. That’s not leading. All of us – everyone of us here, everyone of us in all the venues – we need to be trusted. We need someone who lets us prove ourselves. We need someone who lets us develop confidence. That’s love. That’s not just an expression of leadership but also of love.
1 Corinthian 13:7 “If you love someone you will always believe in him. You will always expect the best of him.” Do you want to learn from the leadership example of Jesus. He teaches us in the thing of responsibility in the long run, we’re far off trusting people with too much than with too little.
The fifth characteristic, or skill, you’re going to need as a leader…
5. Give people honest feedback.
This is a little bit harder. Give people honest feedback. Nobody’s perfect. We all need occasional correction.
One time the disciples were trying to do this miracle and they couldn’t do it. So they came back to Jesus and said, “What’s up! You told us to go do this and we couldn’t do it.” Jesus gave them some honest feedback. He said this in Matthew 17 “‘It was because you do not have enough faith,’ answered Jesus. ‘I assure you that if you have faith as a mustard seed you could do anything.’”
Notice – He follows a negative with positive. That’s how you give honest feedback. He said the reason you couldn’t do it was you didn’t have enough faith. But if you have faith as a mustard seed, just a little bit of faith, you’ll be able to do anything. Negative must always be followed by a positive. That’s how you give honest feedback.
The greatest basketball coach in history was John Wooden. John Wooden was an amazing man, coach at UCLA, great basketball coach, helped the Bruens to seven consecutive national titles – seven in a row. Actually he won ten championships out of twelve years. That is a record that will probably never ever be broken in basketball. There were two sports psychologists who went to study Wooden’s coaching, his leadership techniques to find out why he consistently produce such outstanding players year after year after year. They discovered that one of the keys was how he gave feedback. It was what he called correct-instruct which was this, Don’t do it this way, instead, do it this way.
That’s what Jesus did – negative-positive. Don't do it this way, instead do it this way. Then He’d show them, model. You just can’t tell your kids, “Don’t do that!” Do this instead. It’s the negative followed by the positive.
The Bible tells us that people learn from one another as iron sharpens iron. The Bible tells us that an honest answer is the sign of a true friendship. And the Bible tells us to speak the truth in love. How you give feedback determines whether it’s good or bad. The right way you build up people. The wrong way, you could destroy them. The wrong way you could scar them for life.
There’s been a study that was done that came out with this formula. If you give a positive stroke to somebody for doing good that equals an emotional one point. If you give a positive stroke to somebody for being what they are, that’s a positive ten points. But if you give a negative stroke for doing something wrong, that’s a negative ten points. But if you give a negative stroke for being what they are that’s a negative one hundred points.
That’s why you remember a single criticism more than you remember a hundred complements. Because they have greater emotional weight. So you have to be very, very careful.
Here’s the key: you correct without condemning. That’s what good leaders do. Correct without condemning. Jesus did this all the time. He corrected without condemning. He spoke the truth in love. How do you do that? How do you correct without condemning?
First thing you have to check your own motive and say, Why am I saying this in the first place? Am I doing this just to get even? Just to relieve steam and blow off pressure because I'm frustrated? Never correct in anger. If you’re correcting in anger as a parent or as an employer or anything else, you’re wrong. Because what you’re doing is your own motivation is getting involved in that and the anger adds that and makes it a hundred negative points. So you correct without condemning.
Admit it. When you’re frustrated it feels good to just let out your frustrations in anger. But what you do that always creates anger back and it always creates resentment and you lose in the long run and what you sow you’re going to reap.
So here’s how you do it. You affirm the people, correct the behavior. That’s how you do it. Affirm the person, correct the behavior. Whether you do this with a friend, a fellow co-worker, or a child, or a student in class. Affirm the people, correct the behavior.
That’s how you give honest feedback and you watch your words when you do that. The Bible says in Ephesians 4:29 “Don’t use harmful words, use only helpful words the kind that builds up.”
6. The sixth step of leadership is treat people as equals.
Real leaders don’t act superior. They don’t try to pretend like they’re better than anybody else. They’re humble. They treat everybody the same. John 15:15, Jesus said, “I do not call you servants. Instead I call you friends.” That’s got to be one of the most amazing verses in the Bible. That God would call me a friend. That God would call you a friend. That God would want to be our friend. God says I'm not calling you servants, I'm calling you friends. That’s an amazing thing.
Treating others as equal means that as a leader, you share the credit. You accept the blame but you share the credit. Leaders never blame anybody else. Never. You don’t blame others. You accept the blame. The buck stops here. But you share the credit. God can do great things through the person who doesn’t care who gets the credit. If you don’t care who gets the credit for the good that God does through you, God will use you in amazing ways. He will use you in ways you can’t imagine. If you don’t care who gets the credit.
Did you know that the Bible says God’s going to share credit with you one day. “When Christ who is your real life is revealed to the whole world you will share in all His glory.” Whoa! The Bible says that one day those who follow Christ are going to share in Christ’s glory for eternity.
What does that mean? It’s like the movie theater marquee that says, “Now staring for eternity, Jesus Christ. Co staring…” your name. That’s pretty amazing. God says that for those who have followed My Son you will share in all His glory.
Finally the last thing real leaders do…
7. You pray for people.
You pray for your employees. You pray for your friends. You pray for those in your small group. You pray for the students in your classroom. You pray for your other sales people. You pray for your coworkers and friends and your neighbors and your relatives. You pray for your children, as a leader. Jesus said, “I pray for you Simon that your faith may not fail.” All through scripture we have examples of Jesus praying for those He was leading.
And did you know that Jesus has prayed for you? “I'm praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me because of their testimony.” That includes you. Did you know that Jesus Christ has prayed for you personally?
These are the seven skills of leadership. It’s your choice. Do you want to be a leader? You start doing these seven things with other people. You become a people builder. So my question is this, What are you going to do with your life? You can be a wealth builder. You can be a reputation builder. You can be a bodybuilder. Or you can be a people builder. And that is the greatest use of your life.
Why? Because it’s the only thing that’s going to last. People are going to last forever in heaven or hell. People are going to last forever. Everything else you see is eventually going to burn up. But people are going to last forever. It’s the greatest use of your life.
So don’t ever waste a second of your life on things that aren’t going to last forever, that aren’t eternal. Don't waste your life trying to acquire things that are temporary and only last for here and now. Don’t waste your life trying to get wealth as if that’s the goal of life. It’s not going to last. You’re not taking any of it with you. Wealth is not going to last. Pleasure is not going to last. Fame is not going to last. Status is not going to last. One minute you’re a hero. The next minute you’re a zero. Don’t ever waste a second of your life on fame.
Fame is so fleeting. Don’t ever waste a second of your life trying to be famous or wealthy or for pleasure because it’s not going to last. You only live her seventy, eighty years, maybe a hundred. But you’re going to spend thousands of years in eternity, millions, trillions. Invest in people.
Imagine this, what if everybody in our church family, everybody here decided today, every one of us is going to become a leader. Every one of us is going to be a leader in our area of influence. This week we’re going to go out and we’re going to be people builders. Everybody we come in contact with we’re going to try to set an example, challenge them to be bigger than themselves, believe in their potential, affirm them, expect the best, trust them with some responsibility, pray for them, give them feedback when they need it, all of these things. What kind of impact would this church have? We could change the world with just this many leaders.
And God is calling you to do that.
If you’d say, “Pastor, I'm willing to do this. I’ll throw my hat in the ring, I will dedicate the rest of my life to bringing out the best in everybody that I come in contact with. Waitresses, neighbors, clients, family, and friends. I'm going to actively look for constructive ways to build other people up. I want to lead like Jesus.” Would you pray this prayer in your heart? “God, I want my life to be an example. I know I'm not perfect. But at least I'm trying. And I want to head in the right direction. Help me to challenge the people around me to a greater purpose, to live for You not themselves. Help me to recognize the potential in all of the people around me to slow down to not be busy, to gaze, to notice people and to affirm them for their potential. And offer words of encouragement and to write notes of encouragement. Help me to trust other people with responsibility. And not worry about when they let me down. Help me to offer honest feedback and to be open to it myself. And to use helpful words not harmful ones. And to correct without condemning. Help me to treat everybody around me as an equal and to pray for those that You put in my pathway.”
With our heads still bowed, let me ask you a few questions, Who do you need to start being an example to? Somebody you know. A friend. Somebody you work with. You may be the only believer they know. Who do you need to think about and their life and then challenge them to do something great? You see them and they’re wasting their talent and you need to challenge them. Be a leader. Who do you need to affirm their potential? And to give a word of encouragement or write a note of encouragement to? Is there anybody that you see heading off in the wrong direction that you need to give some honest feedback in love. That’s leadership. Do it now.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for our church family. As I look out on this group I see these faces, I see such enormous potential. There is enormous potential here, far more than is needed to rock the world, to bring a spiritual awakening and a spiritual revival and renewal in the church. I pray that every person in our church family would be a leader. And that this week every one of us would be people-builders with those who You bring into our path. In Jesus’ name. Amen.