Leadership is a tough concept to grasp, especially for those that are in or aspire to leadership positions. There are endless perspectives, books, commentaries, and motivational content on how to become a “better” leader. Much of the information is helpful yet it’s insufficient if your aim is to get beyond worldly wisdom. For Christians, Jesus promises much more—to be personally and practically lead by the Spirit as you lead in your homes and workplaces.
Acts 1:5 says, “For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Acts presents this beautiful pattern of conversions where the eventual result is being sealed with the Spirit. Look at Acts 2 where the Spirit is poured out at Pentecost. The power of the Spirit in that setting was astonishing, amazing, and bewildering (Acts 2: 6-7). To the onlooker, the role of the Spirit is incredible because the disciples are able to do things that they could never do relying on their own power. As a young Christian, I had to work this out and learn what it meant to have been baptized by the Spirit. Personally and practically, Spirit-led leadership is important. I’m a husband, my wife and I have 4 young children, and I’m the CEO of a fast-growing company with 50+ employees. The truth is, by my own strength, I’m insufficient and under qualified. Yet God has called me to these things, and it’s in these things that I submit to him on a daily basis. Spirit-led leadership is not a one-time concept you just grasp. It’s a daily fight that requires diligence, prayer, and seeking the Lord’s will for all of your life.
As a leader, there’s no shortage of issues to work through. I’d argue that leaders are making hundreds of influential decisions on an annual basis. Often times, if you’re leading, your decisions are affecting many. Whether you call it your conscience or not, you will often know what “feels” right in certain situations. In every tough decision that I have to make, there’s usually a very clear answer as to what’s right and good. It’s not often an easy decision, yet there is a right decision to be made. This requires the leader to be mindful and receptive to what the Spirit is doing in their hearts and minds. In Ed Welch’s book, Addictions, A Banquet in the Grave, he speaks of this attentiveness. He gives the analogy that a soldier can hear a twig snap because they’re so alert and aware of what’s happening around them. That’s what Spirit-led leadership is like. It demands we stay alert.
In my study of the Old Testament, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern. Leaders succeed because the Lord allows their success. Typically, failure results from disregarding godly wisdom and counsel because of pride and/or idol worship. Build in time to study 2 Chronicles and you’ll get a front row seat into leadership successes and failures. Brothers and sisters, this is not an obscure pattern that we should overlook. Whether in your homes or workplaces, allow others to speak into your life. Let your guard down and allow the Spirit to work through other godly influences in your life. What’s the worst thing that can happen? They’ll find out that you’re a sinner? For the sinner, there’s grace. There’s a Father that loves us so much, that he sent his Son to be the propitiation of our sins. We are washed by the blood of the Lamb and that’s good news to the aspiring leader!
In an effort to share how leadership failures have shaped my wife and I, I wanted to share nine stories and situations that we had to work through. I really struggled to get through these situations, so I’m calling you to learn from my mistakes and the pattern of repentance.
1. PRAY THROUGH DECISIONS AND BE ATTENTIVE TO WHAT THE SPIRIT IS IMPRINTING ON YOUR HEART AND MIND DURING PRAYER.
Remember, prayer does not always move the hands of God. It often shapes us and changes our hearts so that our will aligns with his. I’ve also learned to commit huge decisions to prayer for a period of time then to make a decision at the end of that period. I’ve worked with so many ineffective leaders because they’re indecisive. Pray and fast for a period of time then make your decision. I found myself paralyzed by indecisiveness until our CFO started encouraging us to set deadlines for decision making. This came after periods of time where I was not making tough decisions that I had to make.