4 Stages of Leadership
I am a huge advocate of (spiritual) leadership because I see how much it has impacted my life both negatively and positively. Becoming a youth pastor at 18, it didn’t take much time before I realized how much leadership I lacked. I didn’t know it at the time, but much of my hardships and struggles were due to a lack of understanding of how to lead well.
I truly believe that God raises people up to build His Kingdom. I believe God doesn’t anoint programs, budgets and strategies but rather, He anoints people. And once God anoints an individual, that person becomes a leader who influences people for God’s Kingdom.
But I realized there are stages of maturity and leadership that takes place in an individual’s life. God has a process that He takes individuals through in order for him or her to fulfill his or her calling on their life.
Here are the four stages of leadership that I have come to experience in my personal life.
- Leading Yourself: This is the first test of faithfulness in regards to leadership. In fact, this is the foundation of all leadership that will determine future growth and impact for God’s Kingdom. Can you lead yourself? If you cannot lead yourself you will never be able to lead others. Many people do not realize this but your inability to lead yourself will determine your impact on others. What does leading yourself look like?
- Getting up on time and stewarding the day God has given you.
- Following through with your commitments.
- Being a man or woman of your word.
- Overcoming hardships and persevering through trying times.
- Accomplishing what you set out to accomplish.
- Praying and spending intimate time with God.
- Reading the Word of God on a daily basis to know Him in a deep and personal way.
- Growing in your character and gifts by learning from others.
- Being willing to make mistakes and learning from them.
- Being humble in recognizing where you lack and asking for help from others.
- Leading Followers: Once you are able to lead yourself, God will then entrust you to lead others. Leading followers will come naturally for the person who can lead themselves. As a result of leading yourself, people around you will be influenced by your daily decisions. They will be influenced not only by what you do, but more so by whom you are becoming. Before you know it people will begin to follow you as you progress towards a desired vision or conviction. God will use you to lead followers as long as you are continuously leading yourself.
- Leading Leaders: If you lead followers long enough, some of them will become leaders. If you lead followers well, leaders from the outside will want to join in on your quest and glean from you. While leading followers come naturally for the one who leads him or herself, leading leaders never comes naturally. Leading leaders is much more difficult than leading followers. Why? Because leaders have opinions and leaders like to question things. Followers are looking for someone to tell them what to do and where to go. Leaders are looking for a challenge and inspiration that is greater than themselves. Thus, leading leaders can be a very challenging step for leaders. What needs to take place for a leader to lead leaders?
- The leader must know him or herself very well. At this stage you cannot be insecure about who you are and what you offer to the table. By this time you must know your strengths and weaknesses and own who God has created you to be.
- The leader must know what they believe. Leaders follow leaders that know where they are going. At this stage if you are not sure of what you believe and what motivates you, it will be very difficult to lead leaders.
- The leader must clearly communicate what he or she is going after. At this stage, clear communication is essential. A leader of leaders must know how to communicate well and communicate clearly. If you cannot paint a picture of where you are going and where other leaders fit into this picture, it will be very difficult to lead leaders.
- The leader must learn how to delegate and empower other leaders to do what he or she no longer has time to do. The main difference between a follower and leader is that a leader needs something to work on. If you cannot find a space for leaders to exercise their spiritual gifts and talents it will cause tension and frustration.
- Leading a Team of Leaders: Once a leader knows how to lead themselves, lead followers, and lead leaders, they will eventually come to a place where God will call them to lead a team of leaders. All the years of experience of failure and success has prepared this leader to do things with a great passion coupled with a sharp mind. A leader who leads teams of leaders primarily is a man or women of character. Their character and track record speaks so loudly that leaders are drawn to this individual. People respect their integrity and history and as a result leaders who want their mentorship and guidance surround them. This leader also has a very strong grip on what they are passionate about and what they are gifted to do. Personally, this is where I find myself struggling and growing in the most. Having been able to serve the Lord over the past 9 years in ministry, I have worked with many followers and leaders over the years. However, I am now wrestling and growing in my ability to lead a team of leaders. So far this is what I have learned about this particular sphere of leadership.
- Passion. Passion translated into a vision is what unites leaders and draws people to come together for something impossible without God’s help.
- Experience. The reason why this is the last stage is because experience plays a vital role into leading at this level. All the years of experience has trained and prepared me to be able to lead in this way. This is very insightful for me because it shows me God's timing in perfect. He knows exactly what I can handle and what I can't handle.
- Confidence & Surrender. Without confidence in the Lord this type of pressure will crush you. Confidence and surrender in the Lord lifts the burden and replaces it with freedom.
- Training & Equipping. I am learning more and more it so absolutely critical that I train and equip other leaders to do things better and more effectively than I could have ever done. I find myself constantly training and equipping others to do things that I once did.
- Future Thinking. Before, I was primarily consumed with the present needs and who I was leading. But lately, my mind is constantly pushed to think about the future and things to come. This future thinking moves me to make decisions that I would not have made if I were only thinking about the present.
- Servanthood. At this level I am thinking more and more about how can I serve these team of leaders who are leading. My goal is not to do things for them, but to serve and train them to do what they love well. I am constantly asking myself how can I serve these leaders to do what they are called to do?
- Trust. Do I trust the leaders I am empowering to lead? At this level I am learning the key to doing this well is to let go. Control may have worked at leading followers but trust is what works when leading teams of leaders. I must trust that my leaders are more than able to do what they have been entrusted to lead.
- Feedback & Evaluation. As much as I trust the leaders to lead I must give them feedback and evaluation. I am learning that leaders want to be told where they dropped the ball and where they can improve. I must provide feedback for their progress is we are going to make a difference for God's Kingdom.
- Godliness. I really believe apart from godliness it is only a matter of time until things collapse. Some leaders who are incredibly gifted my be able to get by, but eventually their character will catch up to them. I am constantly asking God to show me where I am not being motivated by godliness and where I am doing things for myself and not for Him. I am learning more and more in order to lead a team of leaders, I must primarily be a man of God before I am anything else.
- Prayer. If I am not praying, I am leading people astray. I am learning how essential prayer is to leading God's people according to His will. In fact, I am convinced for Christians who are in places of influence the most important thing you can do is pray. It is from the place of prayer that we receive revelation, wisdom and guidance.
I pray and hope that the content above can serve as an encouragement and blessing to you. Everything I wrote comes from personal experience. Through much of my mistakes, failures and God's grace, He has taught me much about how to love and lead.
Blessings upon blessings.