Wise leaders understand that life and ministry is a long game. Far too many church leaders act as if real ministry began once they came on the scene. It almost sounds like what the congregation may have been doing for many years long before the present leaders showed up is not as legitimate as what is being done today. Wise ministers know that God has been working long before they arrived and will continue to work in that congregation long after they are gone.
Wise leaders never stop growing in character. For example, a minister preaches/leads/teaches out of a transformed life. As Ruth Haley Barton has said:
What would it look like for me to lead more consistently from my soul — the place of my own encounter with God — rather than leading primarily from my head, my unbridled activism, or my performance-oriented drivenness? (Ruth Haley Barton, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, p. 25)
Wise leaders seek to discern what a congregation needs to be or do, given its own story and context. They do not look for “silver bullets” which they passionately sell to the congregation as an absolute must.
- If we just had an outstanding preacher
- If we just had a better location
- If we just had elders that were more relevant
- If we just had more people on Sunday morning
In every generation these silver bullets seem to change, and yet, proponents in each generation promise that this is what is missing. Wise leaders look at their particular group and discern what this particular group needs to be and do.
Wise leaders learn to be a non-anxious presence. Ok, I will rephrase this. Wise leaders at least need to be a less-anxious presence. When the ministers or elders of a congregation bring their own anxiety into a congregation, it impacts everyone. Like a contagious cold, our anxiety has a way of impacting others. The anxiety of a congregation can be greatly escalated by anxious leaders.
Wise leaders saturate themselves with the Bible. Yes, there are times when I want to meditate on a single passage of Scripture. There are other times when I may focus on a theme in Scripture.
However, there is something important about simply reading the whole Bible. Wise leaders read the Bible. As a Christian leader, I want to read through the Bible regularly and allow its contents to saturate my mind and heart.
What else would you add to these five?