Posted in Character, Servant Leadership

Three Important Traits for Aspiring Leaders

“I’d like to play the piano for your church services.” She stood before me with a confident smile on her face, a well dressed woman in her forties. She extended her hand and introduced herself. She had arrived toward the end of service and sat quietly in the back.

I shook her hand and said, “Please tell me a little bit about yourself.”

She strode over to the piano on stage, sat on the bench and started to play. “I was married to a pastor for over ten years. I know how hard it is for small churches to find people to help, especially with music.” She continued to fill the sanctuary with lovely music.

What she said was true. We had a small church in the middle of nowhere. And my piano skills came nowhere close to her expertise. It would certainly be nice to have some help.

When she finished, I smiled and thanked her. “You are a wonderful pianist! We’d love to have you join us here. Would you please come the next few Sundays? We’d like to get to know you better, and you should see if you like our service style. Then we can talk more about you playing for our services.”

Disappointment flashed across her face. “Yes, of course,” she said. She thanked me for my time and walked out of the building. I never saw her again.

People who aspire to lead, desire a noble task. Gifted people can be an asset to any church and organization. Unfortunately, while many people possess the knowledge and talent to lead, few of them are willing to develop the traits necessary to be a successful leader over the long haul. Most people want to quickly rise to the top without sacrificing much. However, the best preparation for leadership is to become an excellent follower.

This is not a popular message, but it is supported by the teachings of Jesus. Those who aspire to lead, must first develop some key traits.

Leaders must learn to serve others. They do not use their position to take advantage of others and use them as stepping stones to where they want to go. Instead they realize that God has granted them authority to serve and be a blessing to others.

“Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:25-28 NIV).

Loyalty is the foundation of discipleship and vital to a healthy church or ministry. Loyal followers demonstrate complete and constant support for their leaders. This does not mean they agree with everything and are “yes-men.” Rather they deal with disagreement and conflict in a respectful manner. They guard against an independent and critical spirit, and work to resolve hurts and offenses, not allowing them to fester. Loyal followers show they can be trusted with increased responsibility.

Loyalty and faithfulness go hand in hand. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). Followers prove their ability to lead as they show themselves trustworthy in the little things. As they serve (even in menial tasks) with enthusiasm and joy, desiring to honor the Lord rather than gain the attention of others, they develop faithfulness. “Now, a person who is put in charge as a manager must be faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NLT).

Do you aspire to be a leader? Don’t take short cuts. Work hard to develop the traits of humility, loyalty, and faithfulness. Trust the Lord to grant you favor. Determine that in every position you will find ways to serve and be a blessing.

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