Regular checkups are a good idea. Whether with your doctor, dentist, or mechanic, checkups ensure that the condition of something is made clear, and allows for even small changes that can greatly improve health and performance. A periodic leadership “checkup” is a great idea for to ensure you are maximizing your influence and leading in a healthy way. Effective leaders are healthy leaders. How are you doing in these areas that are critical for leading well today?
In 2 Corinthians 5:11-20, the Apostle Paul discusses some important principles of meaningful and effective influence.
1) …earn influence through character & consistency.
While many strive to lead from a place of position or title, the most effective influence is earned through character. Certainly people regularly follow leaders they have to, but we should strive to be a leader others want to follow. In a social media age, don’t fall into the trap of focusing on your reputation (what others think you are) over your character (who you really are). A reputation fueled by character will never need to be filtered or touched up.
In earning influence, consistency in character is key. Anyone can fake integrity in the moment, but true character is obvious over time. Consistency proves the authenticity of character. NFL great JJ Watt said, “Success isn’t owned, it’s leased. And rent is due everyday.” Successful and effective influence is earned by consistent display of character that others would want to follow.
2 Corinthians 5:11-13, “Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too. Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart. If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.”
2) …are motivated by a vision bigger than themselves.
Vision is vital to effective leadership. In describing the indispensable value of vision for a leader, leadership expert John Maxwell says, “Vision leads the leader.” Vision is what fuels the passion of a leader, and is the target to which one aims their life. Vision is what gets effective leaders out of bed without being told each day. Helen Keller once said of vision, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”
The most valuable thing you can give the world is yourself. Make sure that the size of your vision is worthy of your unique and priceless life. If you can’t articulate your vision and dream for your life, stop and consider what is worthy of giving your life for.
If you don’t have a vision, then you don’t have a target. In order to BE IT, you have to first SEE IT! If you can’t see where you are going, where are you leading others?
For the follower of Christ, your vision should reflect the eternal significance of mission and purpose that is in, through, and from Him.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.”
3) …see the big picture, & are not easily distracted.
Fueled by vision, effective leaders have the ability to see everything in light of the “big picture” and do not easily lose focus. Great leaders are fun to watch. How they act at an event usually mirrors how they live their lives. Effective leaders typically walk into a room and look around. They identify and meet needs. They evaluate everything around them in light of purpose and vision.
“Big picture” leaders clearly identify who and what is best for the vision, and are good at eliminating distractions. How are you at evaluating “dream makers” and “dream breakers” in your life? Are you surrounding yourself with friends and mentors who know your vision and push you to achieve it?
Effective leaders are not easily distracted by pettiness and drama. They resist the temptation to become occupied with things that will lead to regret and they typically view time management as a matter of stewardship.
How does your calendar reflect the significance of your vision?
2 Corinthians 5:16-17, “So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”
4) …build bridges, not roadblocks.
Effective leaders solve problems. They unite. John Maxwell says, “People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.” Effective leaders establish genuine relational capital with others through authentic concern and service. They see success as making others successful. They seek the good in and for others.
“Bridges” are relational roadways that supersede those things in our culture that some allow, or even use, to divide. (race, religion, politics, etc) In addition to building bridges, effective leaders also proactively work to eliminate relational “roadblocks.”
As a follower of Christ, you are called to build bridges that lead people to God. Paul refers to this as the ministry (message, task) of reconciliation. Wise leaders, motivated by this vision and understanding the big picture, will make choices in light of “bridge or roadblock” consequences with people. For example, there are some issues that are just not worth discussing (arguing) openly on social media, for they tend to divide way more than unite. You may have strong opinions, but in light of the big picture, it’s just not worth it. Likewise, there may be things you have the freedom to do, but it is just not wise in light of your vision. Effective leaders use wise discernment in these areas.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19, “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”
5) …understand branding.
Branding and marketing are a part of our everyday lives. Although they don’t understand all the ins and outs of marketing, even my elementary school kids know well that brands carry reputations and clear messages that are associated with them. While we understand the damage a bad review or flaw can cause a product, we don’t often understand what branding has to do with leadership. Here is what many people miss: YOU are a brand! Everything you say and do sends a message about who you are and what you are about. Every social media “like,” repost, and comment tells a story about your brand. Countless students have been passed up for athletic or academic scholarships because of the way they have tarnished their brand via unwise choices. Countless leaders have lost significance influence because of the way people see their brand.
For someone who is a follower of Jesus, brand awareness is of huge significance.
2 Corinthians 5:20 states, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ‘Come back to God!’” When we put the label “Jesus-follower” on our lives, we are representing the person and message of Jesus to the world. Even more than that, we are speaking on behalf of God to this world as we build bridges for others to know him.
What do our lives say and show others about who Jesus really is?
2 Corinthians 5:20, “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”
These principles are significant for leading well in any area of your life. These verses are a great reminder that that God wants to use your influence for eternal significance. Honestly assess how well you are doing in each area, and make necessary changes where you can improve. Your future self (and others) will thank you for the work you put into your leadership today!