“Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God.”–Ephesians 6:6
The above verse in the bible kept me wondering on what are the characteristics or quality of our leadership in the society, how can we evaluate and say we are thought leaders?
In the book of Judges, Gideon is the weakest member of the weakest clan in his Hebrew tribe, but he is nevertheless chosen by God to save the entire nation of Israel. Gideon marshals 300 troops to chase the enemy Midianite army, calling on surrounding tribes to assist.
So what are some of the biblical take-outs on Leadership?
- Motivate your team less
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods’” (Hos. 3:1).
Many leaders who rely on motivation to get their people to produce are like medicine that loses its efficacy over time. Higher dosages, including more valuable rewards, may be required to get the same effect.
Many of us as leaders I know spend a lot of time and energy pushing our teams with high-energy meetings, grand incentives, and impassioned persuasion. The alternative to intentional motivation programs is long-term, self-generated motivation. Giving our teams the responsibility of improving their own skills, rather than micro-managing their every move.
Leaders need to make sure their teams know that they loved and cared about them. Love for your team members as a leader naturally expresses itself in compliments and recognition. The best rewards are tailored to the interests of individual staff, not given in mass-appeal fashion.
- Take note of the law of enduring negativity
“Do not gloat over your brother in the day of his calamity” (Obad. 12a).
Prophet Obadiah warns the nation of Edom that their gloating over Israel’s troubles must stop. Their mockery of God’s chosen people is about to call down His wrath.
In The Science of Happiness, book case study shows that if you show subjects in neuropsychological experiments happy and sad pictures, they will spontaneously respond more strongly to the latter. We experience the pain associated with a loss much more vividly than we do the joy of experiencing a gain.
As leaders, we need to come to terms that, we can’t force people to be positive all the time. We can inspire them and provide peaks of positive energy, but inevitably their personal fears, biases, and emotions return. As leaders we need to adjust to the negative tendencies of our teams. We must accept their own lack of trust—an aspect of human nature as inescapable as a sunrise.
- Leaders need to lead like humble dictators
“And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).
To be a servant leader, sometimes we just need to keep in mind that we are servants first and leaders second. We must learn to model Christ-like servant-hood in every situation. Sometimes the equation of justice and mercy doesn’t balance. For instance, you can act justly and hate the action because of the pain it inflicts.
However this internal conflict is common in leadership and we must at all times as leaders ensure we manage the conflict for us to be great leaders.
- Leaders sometimes have to underrate their plans
“Then the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the fish three days and three nights” (Jon. 1:17).
Planning and budgeting sometimes are a bit strange. They rarely match future reality, thus most of the activity involved in perfecting them is a waste of time. Teams spend weeks or months envisioning, writing, debating, reworking, tweaking, and finally, executing then, a little while later, you uncover opportunities or threat that sends teams in a new direction, rendering much of the plans useless.
Additionally budgeting and planning more often limit an organization than grow it. In many organizations, management teams haggle over line item budget numbers every month. Rather than flexing with the market, they stubbornly adhere to their predictions.
The book of Jonah builds the case for creating plans that bow to the winds of the culture, not the whim of the leader. Jonah learns that forces stronger than he are in control. When his plans to go to Tarshish are dashed by the gaping mouth of a giant fish, he instead accomplishes God’s very different plan.
Leaders should advocate for chronic plan abandonment, but favor updating it often, and never again looking at the original plan after it’s changed. Sometimes the operational plan needs to get tossed altogether because of drastic new circumstances. Even a solid organization needs to change.
The Bible remains the greatest leadership manual in the world. These biblical leadership techniques have worked for thousands of people over the years, even when at times they seem counter-intuitive. But faithfully applied, these methods overflow with wisdom and protection from the lions that threaten to overtake your leadership.
The next time you find yourself in a lion’s den, may the sharpest teeth be your own.