Healthy Leaders


How to Be an Effective Agent of Change

Malcolm WebberMalcolm Webber

As agents of change, leaders will:

Pray and dream.

This comes first. We must seek God’s highest. In the Early Church, the leaders saw the central importance of this(Acts 6:1-4).Of course they had learned this from Jesus, who spent much time in the presence of His Father.

Moreover, in Acts 13:1-3, the new vision of the apostolic ministry of Paul and Barnabas was birthed in an extended time of seeking God (Acts 13:2).Praying and dreaming take time. Consequently, we must learn to graciously excuse ourselves from time-wasting busyness. We must learn to say, “No.”Effective leaders must be careful to not be so overwhelmed by today’s problems that they lose sight of tomorrow’s opportunities.

The outward effectiveness of our leadership will never exceed the quality of our inner life in God.

Submit to God.

To be effective, the leader’s vision must come from God. Apart from Him we can accomplish nothing of any value(John 15:4-5).Paul recognized that it was only when he trusted in God that he was strong as a leader (2 Cor. 12:9).

A true vision comes from God. Then it becomes the leader’s own vision; something he can share passionately with others. Without the divine initiation, however, man’s vision is mere human ambition and God will not breathe on it(Eccl. 5:7).

Constantly seek higher ground.

There is always some new way to improve any organization. God has mighty things for us, and as we will seek His face He will show us His vision:

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. (1 Cor. 2:9-10)

Let’s seek His highest!

Treat every responsibility as an adventure in an unexplored wilderness.

If leaders want to inspire the best in others, they must find or create opportunities for people to outdo themselves in exploring new ground and reaching difficult goals. Furthermore, they must make ministry or work responsibilities enjoyable and exciting. Researchers have found that appropriate humor can lead to valuable cohesion and bonding between team members.

Look for talent.

This must become a part of your everyday consciousness. Be on the lookout for talent all the time. Don’t wait around until you have a specific need. Watch people. Pay attention to their words and actions. If they look promising, engage them. Make a social connection. Talk to them about their work and their aspirations in God. Find out about their competencies, their experiences, their histories. The talent and resources for excellence are already present; they need merely to be unlocked.

… what they already had was more than enough to do all the work. (Ex. 36:7)

Question the status quo, and kill the sacred cows.

Obviously, some standard practices and policies are critical to the organization’s success. But many are simply traditions. Effective leaders ruthlessly examine everything in their organizations. “The way we’ve always done it” is insufficient reason to continue doing something. Is there a better way to do it? Is there even a better thing to do in the first place? Why do it this way? Why do it at all? Jesus challenged the religious status quo of His time. Indeed, the Gospel itself is nothing but a challenge to the status quo of man’s condition in sin and death.

Jesus, the greatest Leader of all, continually confronted the status quo. He confronted dead religion, sin, spiritual blindness and alienation from God. He was not interested in incremental improvement; He came announcing a whole new kingdom!

The apostle, prophet, evangelist, teacher and pastor should all be change agents who seek the highest for God’s people.

Harvest new ideas – both inside and outside the organization.

Many times the people who have been doing something for years have conceived of new and better processes. But no one has ever asked them for their opinion! Good leaders are listeners. Moreover, there is a great harvest-field of innovative ideas outside the doors of every organization. Good leaders are learners. They continually explore – even in unrelated and entirely dissimilar fields. Effective leaders do not have to come up with every new idea themselves; they will recognize and advance the good changes that others dream up or initiate.

Find something that needs fixing.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” often doesn’t cut it for a true leader. It may work well, but can it work better? In any case, does it even need to be done in the first place? Naïveté can be a leader’s best friend in a new assignment. His dumb questions are tolerated as he uncovers needed improvements; and his fresh, non-institutionalized approach can yield the conceptual breakthrough necessary for quantum leaps in organizational effectiveness.

Believe in their people.

The people are not just problems to be overcome. In reality, the people are gifts from God to the church or ministry; thus, confidence in them is faith in the God who gave them. A truly effective leader will often be known for believing in his people more than they believe in themselves. Good leaders see potential futures in others and challenge them to fulfill God’s destiny. Insecure leaders, on the other hand, will frequently project their own lack of confidence onto their people.

Assign their people wisely.

Organizations frequently commit the error of assigning their best people to deal with problems. Creative leaders, on the other hand, assign their people to opportunities. Naturally, problems must be dealt with, but opportunities are the life-blood of our churches and minis- tries. Solving a problem contains and prevents damage, but seizing an opportunity produces growth and new life. Opportunities are our connections with the future.

Renew their teams.

Even the best teams get stale and need to be revived. After a while, the members all think according to the same patterns. Bringing new people on board adds fresh perspective and energy. Leaders also require their people to interact with others and to listen for new ideas.

Lead their people in continual learning.

We all need to keep adding to our resource and skill bases – through reading a book, taking a course, attending a seminar, subscribing to a journal. Good leaders, and those who follow them, are lifetime learners.

Have lots of ideas.

The way to have a good idea is to have lots of them. In other words, if you have many good ideas, you will eventually have one!

Cast your bread upon the waters, for after many days you will find it again. (Eccl. 11:1)

Look for opportunities to glorify God.

Christian leaders, above all, should seek opportunities to glorify God and accomplish His purposes with excellence.

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