The three core foundations of leadership wisdom are leader instinct, leader fruitfulness, and leader multiplication. In order to grow deeper in leadership wisdom, it is necessary to invest a significant amount of energy strengthening each core foundation.
The first core foundation is leader instinct, which is formed when experience is shaped by wisdom, allowing the leader to intuitively grasp key leadership challenges.
In the biological world, instinct is defined as "a largely inheritable and unalterable tendency of an organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental stimuli without involving reason." In this definition, instinct is viewed as an inborn, unchangeable quality. An additional definition from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary that fits human experience better is "a natural or inherent aptitude, impulse, or capacity <had an instinct for the right word>." When a person has an "instinct for the right word," it was not hardwired into the person from birth but was developed as he or she learned a new language, read widely, and understood the meaning and function of particular words. We will use the word instinct in this section to refer to unconscious thoughts or actions that are conditioned into a person through repetitive behaviors, habits, or experiences.
The best coaches in sports prize instinct in their top recruits. Instincts are honed in athletes when they practice a particular move so many times that it becomes second nature to them. When they are in a game situation, they just know what to do without having to think or reflect.
Christian leaders likewise become wiser and stronger as they develop sound instincts. Leader instincts are formed when leaders process and reflect on their experiences through the lens of wisdom, to understand what happened and how God was at work in that situation. This accumulation of wisdom will begin to allow the leader to instinctually know what to do and say and how to act in a particular situation. This is why the combination of experience and wisdom is so crucial for Christian leaders. God created your brain so that you can see patterns and then apply wisdom to your response to each situation.
The second core foundation is leader fruitfulness, which describes how a leader helps the church or Christian organization focus on producing fruit that lasts.
We have a large apple tree beside our house, and I am amazed at the number of luscious apples that are waiting to be picked in the next few weeks. I watch in awe the process of development from bud, to flower, to fruitlet, to a mature apple that is bursting with flavor. In Christian leadership, it is the fruit that counts.
Spiritual fruit is produced when human activity is touched by the Holy Spirit. Spiritual fruit is germinated by the actions of faithful Christians who attempt to live out the instructions of Scripture in harmony with the Holy Spirit. While activity has a critical role in initiating the fruit-producing process, human activity alone can never bring about the miracle that is seen in the production of fruit. When God takes the human activities of believers and divinely touches their effort, lasting fruit is produced. Wise leaders learn to pray for, look for, and measure fruitfulness, rather than just focusing on the activity.
In the last few years many Christian leaders have begun to introduce new measurements to determine the productivity and fruitfulness of their organizations or churches. They once only counted the number of members, the amount of money collected, and the attendance at certain events. Today leaders are elevating the value of fruitfulness by measuring with different standards, such as changed lives, sacrificial giving, and dedicated discipleship. A new set of metrics are being utilized to more accurately evaluate how God is producing fruit in the harvest field.