Healthy Leaders


4 Ideas to Lead from Strength

Tom HornTom Horn

Whenever discussing the concept of strength-based leadership someone always says, “I would love to have the kind of team where I could primarily focus in my strength. In my world I must do just about everything.” Well, as mothers of preschool children (MOPS) are told, “your situation will not remain as it is forever.”

The Right People

When we are truly partnering with God by following Him where He is at work, we can count on Him bringing the people we need to accomplish His will. Hudson Taylor started his work in China alone but came to believe that God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply. The China Inland Mission (now OMF International) grew to be a prominent missions organization in China. Count on your team composition changing to include people who can serve in their strength so you can focus on yours.

Satisfying Specialization

Highly respected pastor and author John Piper says it this way in his book Desiring God, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Among other things, people will be most satisfied when serving in their God-given design. If so, how confident are you of knowing your spiritual gifts and natural talents? How willing are you to serve in your strength?

When I was in seminary, shortly after leaving five years of campus ministry, an older mentor challenged me to value one of my strengths. Administration (sometimes equated with leadership) came naturally to me, but when on campus, the ministry that was most highly valued was discipling and teaching. I devalued my administrative gift for what I perceived was of greater value. Some of us need to thank God for the gifts and strengths He has given to us and use them for His glory regardless of how they might be viewed.

As we mature in age and Christlikeness, our greater contributions will come when we intentionally minister in and through our strengths. By the time someone is about 45 years old, he or she should have enough life experience to know what kinds of ministries produce personal satisfaction and blessing for others.

Message and Mission

What are those issues or messages that when you speak of them you obviously light up and people see your passion coming through? One of my messages is that of being a life-long learner. What passages of Scripture do you most often refer to and communicate with deep conviction? For me it is Colossians 1:28-29.

Where can you recall experiences that align with your passion and convictions? My interest in education and reading stand out as prominent. I can be like a dry sponge when learning.

Leading from strength means progressively moving toward convergence with your “life message.” A parallel concept is that of your “life mission.” One’s mission is all about the context of where you serve and what you focus upon. Sometimes geography is important as with a person with a special concern for those who have never heard about the love of Jesus (Rom. 15:20; 2 Cor. 10:16). Others can serve almost anywhere as long as they are able to focus on their life mission.

Recognizing Weaknesses

If we are to steward well our life message and mission, we will need friends who love us enough to speak into our life. The word vulnerability is defined by Bill Thrall and friends (Ascent of a Leader, pp. 81-82) this way: “Vulnerability means you choose to let others know you, to have access to your life, to teach you, and to influence you… Vulnerability causes people to know your life is open to them. You are teachable. You will allow the cracks in your life to be not only seen but also filled as you receive their influence.” To lead well, we need protection from our weaknesses.

Value the resources God provides in the right people to help you. Focus on the things you love to do, that strike a chord of passion. God gives each of us a unique message and mission. Depend on good friends to help you to address your weaknesses. These principles are essential to effective leadership and life in God.

Pause and Reflect:

– Tom Horn

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Tom Horn