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Are you a great leader?

I, for one, have been greatly impacted by leadership sages John Maxwell, Patrick Lencioni, Dave Ramsey, and others. I’m not sure if that makes me a “leader”—just knowing the theories—but it has certainly helped me define things along the way. My brain is chock-full of borrowed quips, like:

Everything rises and falls on leadership.

The local church is the hope of the world.

Healthy things grow.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!

Vision is a picture of the future that produces passion.

If you and I got together over coffee and started listing as many of these almost-Bible-verses as we could remember, I’m sure we could get at least 96 down on paper (just to outdo Martin Luther).

And it’s fun, isn’t it? The strategic planning inherent in effective leadership … a well-cast, crystal-clear vision … outlining a bold mission and aligning resources to make it happen …

But I think we all know in our hearts that leadership strategies alone can’t bring the transformation our hearts long for, or complete our Great Commission, or shepherd the flocks under our care. We know that something supernatural is required as well—and it’s a lot harder to break that down into pithy proverbs.

Three Things We Look For

When I joined Life Action, someone shared with me three elements to keep at the forefront, both in the ministry culture and in the personal lifestyles of those who serve or speak. I think about these often, because I don’t yet feel worthy to wear them as a label. They represent an ideal I am striving for, a sort of spiritual gravitas, something that transcends earthly leadership.

1. An Authentic Lifestyle

Authenticity is when my words and actions are fully synchronized with my motivations. It’s when I really am who I say I am.

  • Because I am a Christian, am I walking as Jesus did? (1 John 2:6)
  • Am I honest, open, and transparent about my sins and needs?
  • What does my “life message” preach, without words?
  • In what ways am I serving those who can’t serve me back?

2. A Prophetic Message

In the context that we use this word, prophetic has to do with boldly telling the truth, even when it hurts. This means challenging people to repentance, obedience, purity, prayer, and humility, even when these confront the culture of “church as usual.”

  • Am I studying God’s Word personally, seeking His truth to proclaim?
  • Am I willing to call for bold, specific repentance when I preach?
  • Do I passionately believe that my hearers need to obey Christ? Do they know that?

3. An Anointed Ministry

Anointing has to do with the supernatural power and presence of God in my life and ministry.

  • Is there clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is working through me?
  • When was the last time I prayed for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
  • Am I staying true to the heart of my ministry calling, based on the Scriptures?

As I noted before, all three of these areas are difficult to measure, yet they challenge me at the deepest level. Of course I want to be an effective, strategic, visionary leader. But even more, I wonder, “Is my life authentic? Is my message prophetic? Is my ministry anointed?”

If I’m missing those things, why would anyone follow my lead? And if they did follow me, where would I be taking them?