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“Leadership in Bite-Sized Pieces”
by Tom Goodman
June 9, 2005

Thanks so much for the great turn-out at our business meeting, and for the overwhelming approval of our new Sunday night schedule.  The Sunday night schedule will begin on August 21.
I liked what John Jackson had to say in this article, entitled “Leadership in Bite-Sized Pieces.”  I hope the article will inspire you to be the learner, the visionary, and the influencer that real leaders try to be!
There are three characteristics that mark true leadership.

First, leaders are learners.

Those who are not, are not leaders for long.

We live in an information society.  So leaders need to traffic in the currency of today’s world.  Leaders who are not growing and learning will soon fall behind.

Jim Harrington, the former District Missionary of the Union Baptist Association in Houston, said that the four skills for the 21st-century leader are:

Personal Mastery: knowing who God made you to be
Developing Vision: discerning God’s future for the ministry or organization you lead
Communicating Vision: dynamically communicating God’s vision for your ministry
Shepherding Vision: shaping the organization you lead in accordance with God’s vision.
Leaders must have a clear leadership development discipline.  We should be learning and growing in our relationship with Christ and our leadership capacity on a sustained basis.  Growing in our understanding of God’s Word, reading books, listening to tapes, attending seminars, investing in personal mentorship with other growing leaders are baseline activities for those who want to lead with excellence in the Body of Christ.

Second, leaders are visionaries.

This doesn’t mean we see only the future and not the present.  This means we see the future and connect the present to it.

Bert Nanus wrote in “Visionary Leadership,” that, “The right vision is an idea so powerful that it literally jump-starts the future by calling forth the energies, talents, and resources to make things happen.”

George Barna wrote in “Without a Vision, the People Perish,” that, “Vision is a clear mental image of a preferable future, imparted by God to his chosen servants, based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances.”

Leaders are visionaries to be sure.  However, that doesn’t mean that leaders see only the future without regard to the present.  Leaders understand the need to connect the present, the “what is,” with the future, the “what can be.”

One of my favorite people on this subject is Christopher Robin in “Winnie the Pooh.”  He says, “Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it’s not all mixed up.”

Leadership and management are really not at odds with each other as you may have heard.  The difference is in what they manage.  Managers manage process (making sure things get done the right way).  Leaders manage values (making sure the right things get done).  Both leadership and management are essential.  Leadership without management leads to chaos; management without leadership leads to stagnation.

God has long used leaders like Moses and linked them with managers like Aaron so that God’s people could go into his future together.

Third, leaders have lasting influence.

According to many students of leadership, leadership is about influence.  Dr. John Maxwell, New York Times best-selling author and president of Injoy, says “everything rises and falls on leadership.”

If that is true—and I believe it is—then leadership is about influencing others.  But I don’t just want to influence people today (something a person can do by force, by bribery, by manipulation, etc.)  I want to influence people for life!  So, who are we influencing right now?  Who are we investing our lives in?

A helpful exercise that has encouraged me to think through this issue is to ask the question, “What will they write or say in my eulogy?”  When you are gone from this planet, what will your friends and family say about your contribution to them?  Writing your own eulogy is a sobering exercise.  It certainly brings focus to life!

Stephen Covey says that one of the seven habits of highly effective people is to “begin with the end in mind.”  What are you doing today that will affect what is said in your obituary or put on your tombstone?  Who will you build into for the future?

Take it a step further.  Who will carry a part of you—your heartbeat, your hopes, your dreams—into the future?

Recently, I revised my life mission statement to read as follows: “I am a Kingdom impact person.  Therefore, I will invest my life for the cause of Christ in Kingdom impact-making people and organizations.”

I want my eulogy to say, “John loved his Lord, his family, and his friends.  John fulfilled his life mission and was a Kingdom impact person.”

Join me in being a leader.  Influence your family, your friends, your co-workers, your world.  Influence the relational world in which God has placed you.  Influence that world now and for all eternity.  We’ll never regret what we did for God’s Kingdom… that is, after all, the only thing that lasts.

Dr. John Jackson is the Senior Pastor of Carson Valley Christian Center, and the President of VisionQuest Ministries.  You can find this article online at  www.churchcentral.com/nw/s/template/Article.html/id/22281.

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