In the book, 3 Roles for Guiding Groups, David Francis and Ken Braddy point out that leaders often accumulate books, articles, and other helps designed to improve leadership skills and identify best practices. While leadership books are both plentiful and helpful, some resources available to leaders aren’t tangible but nonetheless require careful stewardship.
Consider these five resources that leaders should work to acquire and use strategically.
A Leader’s Personal Disciplines
The old adage, “you cannot lead someone to a place you’ve never been” is certainly true about spiritual leadership. A leader’s greatest resource is the ability to demonstrate or share a personal example from his or her own life and spiritual journey. Failing to cultivate daily spiritual disciplines will shorten the road down which others may be led.
A Leader’s Perspective
Most people have probably heard the phrase “leaders are readers”. This may refer to the depth of leadership knowledge that one can accumulate through disciplined study. However, leaders should also seek to acquire a wide range of insight regarding leadership. I have found great principles from reading leaders in various fields of ministry and pastoral leadership, business, professional sports, military service, and academics. A wider exposure to many kinds of resources will give leaders the ability to see issues from many perspectives and increase good decision-making.
A Leader’s Influence
All leaders possess some measure of positional authority. That is, leaders have the ability to have influence based solely on the position they hold. Good leaders have also gained relational authority and credible authority as well based on how they have proven themselves to be both caring and capable. The power of influence is a trust that should be handled with great care. Use your influence in a Sunday School class to promote unity, uphold truth, mobilize learners to action, and build up the church.
A Leader’s Encouragement
People everywhere need encouragement! A word of affirmation from someone in a leadership position is a very powerful resource. Leaders should look for ways to affirm other learners, encourage teachers, notice examples of life changes taking place within the group, and bring positive reports from fellowship and ministry events. Leaders should be people whom others look forward to seeing each time the group meets because they know they will walk away encouraged.
A Leader’s Outlook
Finally, the leader has the responsibility to keep the group looking forward in faith. While others may point out negatives, the leader must focus on strengths. The leader has the opportunity to hold out hope – one of the most powerful motivators and influences of all. The leader can never give up!
Leaders should keep building libraries! But being mindful of increasing these less tangible but powerful resources will result in even greater impact.
David Bond is the Small Groups/Sunday School specialist at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.