by: Clayton King, Founder + Evangelist
The fastest way to know if someone is really a leader is to see if anyone is following them. So whether you're a business owner, a mom, a coach, or a teacher, if you have influence over someone, then you are leading. Some leaders gain a following through fear, others through their big personality, and others through manipulation or hype. But as a Christian, it is humility, not ability, that makes you a true leader worth following. It proves that it's not all about them, it's about the ones they're called to serve.
Ability is important, but humility is essential. To paraphrase the great C.S. Lewis, humility is not thinking less of yourself. It's thinking about yourself less. It is an approach to life and ministry where the focus is on helping others become who they were created to be. It's a way of leading that is motivated by love; love for the gospel, the church, and those far from God.
In the Kingdom of God, personal transparency is leadership currency. The tendency for many of us is to project strength and authority. The assumption is that people will follow your lead if you look like the expert who knows everything. So for many pastors (and lots of Christians), there's a tangible pressure to perform for the people, to give out religious information, to keep the machine running and keep everyone's attention. Yet more and more ministry leaders are finding this approach to be both emotionally draining and spiritually empty. It's hard to keep up the image of strength and expertise when on the inside, you feel weak and overwhelmed with the task of leading God's people, or leading your family, or even leading yourself.
It's refreshing to hear a pastor do more than run through an outline and tell a few stories from the stage. It's also extremely rare. Yet we all know intuitively that we connect on a deep, heart level to a leader who will be vulnerable with us about their humanity, their struggles, their failures, and their need for grace. That's why personal transparency equals leadership currency. If a leader wants the attention and the affection of the people, the key is being vulnerable with the people about the things that make you feel unqualified to lead. This sounds crazy on the surface, but we know it's true in our hearts. The more unqualified we feel, the more God will use us, because it is His Spirit that empowers and enables us to lead.
Leadership authority flows from personal vulnerability. When a leader is honest with God about their regrets and weaknesses, God meets them in those broken places and gives them strength. And when that person will show their scars, they communicate to others that God can use fallen, imperfect people to accomplish great things for His glory. This is leading from a place of love.
Humble leaders don't attempt to project power or strength. They simply and consistently open up and let people see inside. This removes the pretense from church. It takes away any assumptions about appearance or performance. It elevates the need for grace for everyone in the church. It removes the stigma from church when people realize they don't have to fake it on Sundays, and they don't have to pretend to have it all together. When a leader or a pastor opens up honestly, they are communicating to the church that it's ok not to be ok, but it's not ok to stay that way. God's grace in Jesus is what we need, not a pretty new Sunday outfit, not all the right answers to all the hard questions, and not a perfect performance to show God how great we are. God doesn't care about appearances or performance. He wants His children to be real with Him, to love Him and come to Him with all their junk.
Your leadership authority flows from your personal transparency. When you're humble enough to be vulnerable to God and those you lead, you will find God empowering you to lead with excellence.