How many of us truly think of ourselves as leaders? Good leaders? Great leaders? Women are, to some degree, uncomfortable with that word; especially when that word is used to describe us or we have been asked to lead something that sounds intimidating, challenging or beyond what we think we are capable of. What is at the heart of an effective leader and how can we grow those things?
A relationship with Jesus Christ. Our leadership will only be as good as our ability to follow Jesus Christ. Are we building our relationship with Christ? Are we spending time with Him? Are we inviting Him into every part of our lives? Leaders pursue a more vibrant relationship with Jesus. Let’s not compare how we pursue Him with anyone else’s way. Let’s do what it takes to stay engaged with Him.
Character. You might be a real character, but a woman of character is someone who brings Christ wherever she goes. Traits that leaders want to cultivate and ask God to grow in us are:
- Humility – Considering others better than ourselves. This brings clarity to our lives and our purpose. This is servant leadership. We do not seek positions for power. We seek positions to empower others.
- Integrity – This is the place where our words match our actions. Do we do what we say we are going to do? A woman of integrity can be trusted; trusted with a confidential conversation, trusted with money, trusted with results.
- Authenticity – Being real. Our struggles and our triumphs will inspire others. We don’t cover up our messiness, but we don’t celebrate it either. Women who are authentic are living out who God created them to be; with all of the joys and pains and questions that go along with it. We aren’t fakes.
- Obedience – Leaders move toward obedience. There might be a cost involved, but that cost is minimal in comparison to not doing something we believe God is asking us to do. Andy Stanley says, “Leaders are made one response at a time.”
- Influence – Being women to whom people want to listen and hang around. Being a sweet aroma. Influencing people for good. Encouraging, inspiring, and motivating. Making a difference.
A fruitful life. Effective leaders exhibit the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). By staying connected to the source of a leader’s power, which is the Holy Spirit, a fruitful life will be produced. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. What is the essence of our life?
Strength. Each of us has strengths and weaknesses. We can’t be afraid to live in our strength zone. Leaders don’t focus on what they can’t do or their weaknesses. They focus on what they can do. God has entrusted us with gifts and abilities and he wants us to use them. We need to bless people with what we can do and who we are – our personality, our prayers, our food, our encouragement, our work – whatever our strengths are. One of the problems I’ve encountered when living into my strengths is I ask God to use me, and then scream in fear when he offers me an opportunity, opens a door or gives me an engraved invitation. I’m human. I get scared sometimes when I think of all that I am not capable of but I found a quote that reminds me of his strength in me, “Shift your attention away from the waves and direct it to the One who walks on them and says, “It is me. Don’t be afraid.”” He is the giver of our strengths. Don’t deny them. Don’t be afraid to use them. They are for serving him. And, they are for serving others. They are for his glory.
The desire to develop others. Leaders are inclusive. They help others grow and win in life to the best of their abilities. They don’t hoard leadership or power. Leaders challenge others. They invite people in and are driven by helping others succeed. We are responsible to raise up the next generation of leaders.