Intuitively, we seem to understand that for anything of value to happen – or last – we need great leaders. Most of us (myself included) don’t feel all that great at it, but want to keep working toward that in the different spheres of life that God has called us to.
That begs, though, the million-dollar question: what makes a great leader in the first place?
Most magazines, TV segments and books answer the question by essentially providing a series of tips, habits and character traits we should aspire to. ‘Great leaders… use their time well, are decisive, get things done’ and so on.
While all of that may be helpful and true, it’s not the one essential thing for us as Christian leaders. It’s not how efficient we are, it’s not how type-A we are, and it’s not even how smart or talented we are.
In fact, it’s not really about us at all.
The Apostle Paul put it like this in 1 Corinthians 11:1 — ‘Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.’
That’s it? Really?
Yup, that’s it. Sure, there’s lots more to say, but this is the essential starting point. As Christian leaders, our job description is to make sure we’re following Christ closely. If that one thing is in place, others can follow us with confidence. Without it, even our successes are just smoke and mirrors, an illusion that will only last so long.
Since I work with campus leaders, I want to address you guys directly. I know that you already ‘know’ what I just said, but it’s so easy to forget this, isn’t it? We get caught up in exams, rotations, studying for boards, relational issues, struggles with roommates. We focus on planning the next event, leading the next bible study, reserving a room, coordinating community service, and… you get the idea.
In other words, busyness + self-reliance = demoting God to a place that is lethal to us and those who are following us. The quality of our leadership is directly tied into the quality of our real-time, right-now relationship with Christ.
So, as the leadership year begins, I want to challenge you take some time and prayerfully ask yourself two questions:
– How close are you really connected to Christ right now?
– What will you specifically do to move – and stay – closer to him as the year progresses?
The good news is that God knows how hard it is to be in your situation, wherever you are. He expects that we’ll fall down and need his help. He wants us to ‘with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need’ (Hebrews 4:16).
Let’s start the year off by re-examining our relationship with God so that others can imitate us as we imitate Christ.