4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Last
By Rick Warren
Everything rises or falls on leadership. No organization, no ministry, no church, no family, no school, no business can go any further than the leaders who are leading it. If everything rises or falls on leadership, then the quickest way for the opposition to halt any project, any family, any business is to neutralize the leadership. When the shepherd is removed, the flock scatters.
That’s true today in our churches. When Satan wants to cripple a church, he takes on the leadership. And this is not just about the pastor and the paid staff, but the church leadership’s — the lay leadership. If you want to be a leader, some people aren’t going to like you, and they’re going to attack you. Some people are going to try to make you fail.
Here are four characteristics of leaders who last long enough to accomplish big things in spite of the challenges.
1. Leaders who last have a compelling purpose.
This is the very first element of leadership. A cause. A vision. A dream. An objective. A goal. It doesn’t drive you, it draws you. You have to have a compelling purpose.
Until you have a compelling purpose for your life, you’re just existing. Nehemiah said, I have a great project! What are you exchanging your life for? Jesus said, “What will a man give in exchange for his soul?” When you give your time for something, you’re giving your life. That’s what life is made up of — your time. We tend to think that the most important thing we can give people is our money. But money can be replaced. But when you give people your time, that’s irreplaceable. The mark of a great leader is first of all, to have a compelling purpose — an over arching goal in life that motivates me to keep going. Paul says, “Love compels me to keep going.”
Great people are just ordinary people who have made a great commitment to a great cause. That cause draws them out of themselves and makes them more than they could be on their own. You need a compelling purpose for life.
2. Leaders who last need a clear perspective.
If you’re going to be a leader, you’ve got to have perception, or wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any man lacks wisdom, ask God.” When you spend time in the word of God you begin to take on the mind of Christ and you’ll be a more perceptive leader. The thing that clouds our perception is fear. A definition of FEAR — False Evidence Appearing Real. You need to have a compelling purpose and a clear perspective.
3. Leaders who last develop a life of continual prayer
In Luke 18:1, “Jesus told his disciples that they should always pray and not give up.” In your life you’re always doing one or the other. You’ll either pray or you’ll give up. John R. Rice once said that “all of our failures are prayer failures.” When the heat is on, when the pressure is on, you’ll either pray or you’ll panic. You need a continual prayer life.
4. Leaders who last need a courageous persistence.
One of the great keys to success is the ability to hang in there! Keep on keeping on! Keep on doing what God wants you to do! If you were to study all the sermons I’ve given at Saddleback I basically have two themes — one for unbelievers and one for believers. The theme I have for unbelievers is “God cares about you. You matter to God.” I say that in many different ways. I have one basic message I have for believers and that’s “Don’t give up!” We all get tired in the battle and God says “Don’t give up!” You need a courageous persistence.
How can you be fearful and courageous at the same time? Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead in spite of your fear. Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
How persistent are you in doing God’s will? Do you just do it when it’s convenient? Have you ever made the decision in your life, “I’m going to follow Jesus 100% no matter what else happens, no matter what it costs, no matter what it takes, regardless of what people say about me, sidetracks, danger. I’m going to do the right thing.”
photo credit: Βethan