Leaders who won’t reveal their heart to their group and God lead only at 50 percent capacity. Without an open heart, their leadership may be strategic and practical, but never soul-filled and transformational.
You grow your heart when you open your heart to God and others, when relationships are real, and when courageous people offer the deepest parts of themselves to others.
3. Confirm Your Calling
2 Timothy 1:6–9
You have been challenged to tend to a little flock—and sometimes that’s really difficult. Leading a flock will require late-night phone calls and early morning prayers. Group members will disappoint us, and we’ll disappoint ourselves. To combat this, our motives for ministry must be pure, and our convictions clear.
When I was a youth pastor, I decided to visit Tim and Audrey who lived on a small farm not far from our church. But they were away with their mother for a few hours. Their dad was home, though, and asked me to help him around the farm until they returned. Growing up in a red brick row home in the city of Philadelphia, I knew nothing about helping on the farm, so I said “no thanks” to baling hay and milking. When he asked me to call in the sheep, though, I was excited.
“What do I say?” I asked. With a sly smile he replied, “I just say, ‘Hey sheep! Come on in!’”
“Hey sheep!” I started, but he interrupted.
“Not so soft. It’s windy and they’re far away. You have to really let it rip, preacher boy!”
I took a deep breath and with the loudest voice I could muster blared, “Hey sheep! C’mon in!”
The sheep never budged, and he burst out laughing. “Watch this,” he said. In his everyday neighborly tone, he simply spoke, “Hey sheep, c’mon in.” The sheep turned on a dime and headed toward us.
“You ever read the Bible at that seminary?” he asked. “Remember where it says, ‘My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me?’” I sheepishly nodded. “Don’t forget you are the shepherd to my kids and when you call them, I hope they recognize your voice.”
That day, I knew I had a call—not a job, not something I did to get ready for real ministry someday with adults, but a real ministry call. I was given a little flock to lead, and until God said move on, I was the one to guide them to Christ.
4. Honor Your Calling
2 Timothy 4:5
Some of us are great leaders, but we don't produce the results we expect. Maybe you’re frustrated because you know you have leadership gifts and abilities, but something seems to be wrong.
Often this means that we’re simply leading in the wrong place or leading the wrong people. Perhaps you’re leading adults when you should be guiding children, or you’re focused on leading a couples small group when you should be leading a task-focused ministry team.
Paul told Timothy to fulfill his own ministry—not anyone else’s. The same is true for you. Make every effort to determine where and how you should be using your gifts. You might have to take an assessment or ask close friends and ministry partners to truthfully assess your abilities. Whatever it takes, please do this. The church suffers when its leaders are improperly deployed in the wrong places. Find the place where your gifts and abilities are compatible with needs, and throw yourself fully into that ministry.