I didn’t know how to describe it at the time. I was only in the eighth grade, for crying out loud, and a “lost church member” at that. But on that February day so long ago a new leader – a new pastor – showed up at my church. And for the first time in my life a preacher held my attention throughout his message.
I didn’t know that the adults in the church had been argumentative and divisive.
I didn’t know that we had been through months of spiritual lethargy, coldness and conflict.
All I knew was that there was something completely different about this man, this preacher, who to this day I consider my pastor. What I know now is that he was and is a life-giving leader.
Compare that to a Christmas card I received from a church a few years ago. This church had also had a new leader come to town. And the impact was just the opposite. For months people on the staff of this megachurch had jumped ship at the first opportunity. And those who remained were desperate to be the next. I’ll never forget is the hollowed eyes and prisoner-of-war expressions on the faces of the staff and employees of this church – not just one or two, mind you, but the entire staff. The message was clear: Merry Christmas! Sweet Baby Jesus, get me outta here!
What I suspected then, and know now, was that this church was being led by a life-sucking leader.
Regardless of the venue – Church World, Business World, even Disney World – every person in a position of authority or leadership has a choice. You can be a life-giving leader or a life-sucking leader. Life-giving leaders create energy, enthusiasm, passion, and loyalty. They have a contagious way of infusing a sense of purpose, motivation, and confidence in those who follow them.
Life-sucking leaders? Just the opposite. In their wake you’ll find dispirited, defeated, discouraged people, divided organizations, and a general spirit of fear or powerlessness. What’s scary is that on the surface, many of these leaders and the organizations they front appear successful, at least for a season.
How can you tell the difference? How can you know to what degree you are a life-giving leader? The best way I know is to turn to the ultimate life-giving leader – the Lord Jesus Himself. Based on His impact and leadership, I have discovered twelve ways to recognize a life-giving leader when you see one. Here are the first six. [click to continue…]