5. Develop Your Competence
2 Timothy 2:15
The former CEO of Harley-Davidson motorcycle, Richard Teerlink, once said, “If you empower dummies, you get dumb decisions faster!” Heart and passion are not sufficient for capable leaders to perform their duties, and empowering untrained people is not an effective strategy.
Timothy needed to develop his leadership skills. The same is true for small-group leaders. We can’t afford to be lax when it comes to shepherding people, leading discussions, and guiding prayer. We must avail ourselves to training, committing ourselves to developing our skills, so we can lead well.
6. Maintain Your Commitment
2 Timothy 4:2
Commitment is treated like a four-letter word in our culture. But Timothy was challenged to stay in the game whether it was “in season” or “out of season,” easy or hard, convenient or inconvenient. Leaders can only call others to finish the race when they themselves are running hard all the way to the tape.
Frank, a staff member at our church, modeled this perfectly. Once, Frank called a young couple who was leading and serving in our church to check in with them. When they got talking, he learned that though they’d been looking forward to a much-needed date that night, the babysitter for their young children had just canceled. Without hesitating, Frank rearranged his schedule and took care of their children that night.
Do you think they see Frank as a leader? Do you think they respect him? You better believe it! Their hearts were encouraged and their lives were changed by his simple commitment to their needs. That is what life-changing leaders do.
7. Recognize Your Capacity
1 Timothy 4:16
There’s one thing that can derail your leadership—even if you’ve focused on the six things above. Leading a group is a wearisome obligation, and you can quickly burn out if you’re not mindful.
Unfortunately, I see leader after leader running on empty because they have not paid attention to themselves. Self-care is the first job of a leader. And that requires a few things. First, be aware of your limits. You can’t do it all! Know what you do well, and say no to the other things in your life. As Jim Collins coaches, “You cannot add to your ‘Start’ list unless you have a ‘Stop’ list.” Decide what you can and cannot do, and stick to it!
Look at your emotional, physical, and spiritual gauges. Are they Full? Empty? Do what you need to do to replenish your energy, care for your soul, and mind your relationship with God. Do the transformational work on yourself in the power of the Spirit, and you will be able to better guide the transformational growth of others.
Your Changed Life with Change Other Lives
These seven areas will help you take an honest look at yourself as a leader so you can be an authentic, transformational force for change in others. Your weaknesses, fears, and insecurities are fertile ground for God to begin his transforming work. But it will take some focus and energy. Are you up for the challenge? If so, join biblical leaders like Moses, Deborah, Joshua, Lydia, Peter, Priscilla, James, and Phoebe. They, like us, started with a simple willingness to be changed, and God used them to change others.
—Dr. Bill Donahue is a Group Life Consultant, Leadership Coach, and Professor at Trinity International University. You can find more at drbilldonahue.com.