In the previous article, I discussed the importance of reaching the heart over forcing the hands to complete tasks. In other words, you can force behavioral change in a person, but if you don’t reach the heart, the change will not be long-lasting and the task completion will be done out of duty rather than a desire to please.
Please understand, and I understand, there are times when task completion out of duty is appropriate. For example, if you have young children, it is entirely appropriate to enforce behavioral change, since they have not learned to serve other people. That is called “enforced humility” in contrast to “genuine humility.” Enforced humility is helping a child (or older person) do the right thing, because it is right. Yet, the goal is to help the child WANT to do the right thing because you want his desire to be to please his authority, called “genuine humility.” In this article, I’m assuming we are seeking genuine humility, which is godly humility.
There are five characteristics that are extremely helpful for a leader to live before those who are following. The first characteristic is credibility that says I’m worthy to follow. That credibility is established in a multitude of ways. For example, by listening long enough that you show you care for the individual more than just getting the task done. It is also established by acting in the person’s best interest and they know it. That means you may help them with an assignment (or task), remind them to accomplish a task they’ve forgotten, or come alongside them and help them in their character development. That means you affirm them when they have done well and positively helped them when they’ve dropped the ball.
The second characteristic is competency that says I have an understanding of what to do. The leader doesn’t wave his flag proving he knows how to do it, but he humbly demonstrates he understands the matter and can either do it himself or shows the follower what he can do in order to be successful. It might be how to write a letter, or ask for forgiveness, or consider some things that may need to be done. However, the leader does not do the tasks for the follower. Let the person do his best and risk failure if possible, because failure is one of the best learning opportunities.
The third characteristic is communication that reaches the heart rather than just the hands. The leader has to slow down enough to listen for understanding, slowly respond to comments so that bruised reeds are not broken and accept that communication may take longer than desired, but the long-term results will abound. Communication is the chief ingredient for why relationships fall apart. People jump to conclusions and don’t believe the best. People are quick to analyze and find problems rather than looking for potential. And people are afraid of rejection more than being willing to trust God for reconciliation.
The fourth characteristic is completion-mindedness that sees the big picture for long term growth. The leader still needs to get the tasks done. They are important, because you can’t wait until next week when the church needs the bulletin done by tomorrow. That may mean that someone else will need to complete the task, but the person is more important in the long-term. There may even be necessary discipline in an appropriate form, but it is always for the sake of the person’s godliness, not the task.
The fifth characteristic is compassion that puts the person before the task. Every leader must look at the world as Jesus did – with compassion. That doesn’t mean the tasks are not important! Jesus saw that we could not attain our salvation, so He went to the cross for us. He is a Shepherd, who looked at the people with compassion as having no shepherd, so He was the Shepherd. How is your compassion meter doing toward people?
The importance of this is that character far exceeds ability in God’s view. Because when character is transformed, the ability will come and people will serve cheerfully, heartily as unto the Lord and with all their might!
By the way, did you look at 1 Timothy 3:1-13? Did you notice they were all oriented to character qualifications? Shouldn’t that help us disciple people in life?