12 Essentials for those who shape the future

A few weeks ago I was asked to share with a group of church leaders a session on the essentials young leaders need to embrace for successful ministry. As I reflected on what to share with these leaders God showed me twelve key principles that every leader needs to get a grasp on if they are going to effectively shape the future. This month I will share with you the first six essentials and in next month’s edition of insight I will share with you the next six essentials. Here they are:

1. Clarify your calling, your vision and your core values

    One of the most important qualities a young leader needs to develop is self awareness. Great leadership flows from a leader clearly understanding them selves. In June 2004 God took me on a journey of self-awareness helping me to clarify my calling, my vision and my core values.

    Clarifying your calling establishes God’s purpose for your life. God’s calling on your life validates you functioning as a leader. Sooner or later the demands of life will force you to seriously consider giving up and your calling will often be the only thing that anchors you when the storms of life hit you.

    Clarifying your vision establishes God’s direction for your future. A leader without vision is like a person trying to drive blindfolded – really exciting but very dangerous. Vision is your greatest weapon because it sparks the fire inside you and draws you forward.

    Clarifying your core values establishes what’s important to you along the journey. Your core values are those core principles and standards that shape your ministry. Every leader needs to write down for themselves and the people their ministering to what is important.

    2. Lead yourself well before you lead anyone else – Self-discipline

      1 Timothy 3:5 – If someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church.

      The biggest challenge in leadership is YOU! What you do about you will determine how far your leadership will go. The degree to which you lead yourself will be the degree to which you lead others and the best investment you can make as a young leader is self-leadership. Why? Your effectiveness as a leader is determined by your internal reality not your external achievements.

      3. Develop your character – it’s the foundation of your leadership

        On April 14th 1912 the Titanic received 6 warnings about icebergs in the area and the Captain of the ship ignored all of the warnings. The Titanic eventually hit an iceberg and soon sunk. The problem with icebergs is that most of an iceberg is below the water line. The Captain underestimated what was below the waterline and overestimated their own strength.

        The Iceberg represents your leadership. The 10% above the water line is your skill. The 90% below the water line is your character. What is below the surface is what will sink your leadership. Develop what is below the water line and your skill will be able to be maximized.

        4. Pay the price to hear God’s voice and have the courage to obey what God say’s to you

          Your no 1 priority in ministry is intimacy with God – Leadership boils down to hear God’s voice and obey it. If you really want to excel in ministry don’t attend another conference, establish a daily appointment with God and never miss it. It’s not how much you do it’s what you do out of what God says to you to do. Jesus’ leadership flowed from his place of prayer. Do you have a time and a place where you meet with God everyday?

          5. Know, develop and lead from your strengths

            Know what your strengths and weaknesses are. If you don’t you will hurt people and limit your growth. Develop your strengths through practice and lead from your strengths by complimenting your weaknesses.

            6. Develop strong relationships with the most important people in your life

              The most important people in a leaders life is their family, team mates and friends. Connect with your family daily. Connect with at least one of your team members weekly and connect with your friends fortnightly. Build high quality relationships with low maintenance people.

              7. Eyeball your own giants and take authority over them

              There are only 2 reasons why we face tests in life:

              1)    To reveal and perfect character

              2)    To help us walk in more authority by rising up and taking dominion over our giant

              Every leader in the Bible possessed great spiritual authority because they overcame the Giants in their pathway. David might have been anointed King of Israel but he had to slay Goliath to walk in Kingly authority. You cannot increase your spiritual authority by responding to an altar call. The only way you get a scepter of authority is by responding God-ward to trials and tribulations in our lives. When you respond God-ward instead of reacting man-ward what the enemy has sent to test you becomes your triumph.

              8. Identify your father’s in the faith and submit to their authority

                Don’t ever underestimate the impact that your father’s in the faith have on your ministry. In the Bible we see a common pattern of apostolic type relationships – Moses with Joshua; Samuel with David; Elijah with Elisha; Paul with Timothy. You cannot progress anymore than the leadership authority you are under and whoever you are under the authority of, you will become like – why? We imbibe of the spirit on the authority above us. One of the ways that God builds your ministry is through the relational networks you have with father’s and mothers in the faith.

                9. Be clear about the measure of faith God has assigned to you

                  Romans 12:3 – For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

                  Doing a Joseph and telling your family about your dream sounds cute until you hit the real world of Egypt where your dream will be tested. I thought I had faith until God asked me to plant a church with nothing. Then in the real world my faith and vision were tested for what it really was. Jesus said, be it done to you according to your faith! In attempting anything for God the key question you must ask yourself is, ‘what is my faith margin?’ Your faith in God, not your ability to influence people will determine how far you go

                  10. Align your weekly schedule with your top priorities

                    Andy Stanley once said, As a young leader, my biggest mistake was allowing my time to be eaten up with things outside my core competencies. Every Monday morning I refocus myself on my top priorities for the week. Good time management is good priority management. The best advice I can give you about making the most out of your time is to organize your life and execute your diary around your top priorities.

                    11. Don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t react to criticism

                      Many young leaders fall into the trap of trying too hard to grow their ministry and burn them selves out. I’ve been on the verge of burnout previously in my ministry and it is not at all how God intended for us to live. As a young leader you will get expectations flying at you from all directions. What’s most important is to identify what God expects of you and what the leaders above you expect of you and do the best. Invest your energy in doing what you’re told with excellence and growth will take care of itself. Ministry is a high pressured environment. Don’t let it faze you and keep your eyes focused on God and his vision for your life and ministry.

                      12. Be patient and persevere with God’s dream for your life, it will surely come to pass

                        Psalm 37:23 – The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.

                        Don’t be in such a hurry to get to your destination that you miss out on what God wants to teach you along the journey. Someone once said, If you can hold onto your dream for 5 years it will eventually come to pass.

                        Habakkuk 2:3 – For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

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