Monday, January 30, 2012

Key Leadership Qualities - Endurance

This is one of those subjects that I find myself focusing on more and more lately. The truth is, anyone can get it right in spurts and starts, it's much more difficult to have sustainability as a leader. In leadership, particularly in ministry, it's not so much about how you start, but how you finish. This is one of the reasons why we honor men like Billy Graham and Charles Swindoll, because they're finishing well.

Let's start with some sobering statistics. In a recent article by Dr. Richard J. Krejcir it was revealed that 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career. I suspect that statistics for other high pressure leadership careers would be similar. So, what can be done to buck this trend? How can we develop the endurance necessary for the long haul in our chosen field?

Choose Wisely
This is the first key to success. I've told all of my sons to find the thing that they enjoy doing the most, then learn to do it so well that people will gladly pay them to do it. I firmly believe that this is true. As far as ministry is concerned, my first question for young candidates is this: why are you wanting to do this? Biblically speaking, ministry is not a vocation, it's a calling. Again my advice to potential ministers, knowing the stress they will face, is this: if you can do anything else and be happy - do it. The reason I can say this is if they are truly called they will never be truly happy doing anything else. Regardless of your chosen field, you need to love what you're doing in order to persevere.

Commit to Growth
Successful leaders are lifelong learners. There are no exceptions. Relying on your past accomplishments will very quickly make you yesterday's man or woman. The world is changing rapidly; only those willing to keep their minds open will be willing to adapt and use new technologies, methods and systems. What have you learned lately?

Be Accountable
No-one gets to the point where they don't need accountability. The higher you go in leadership, the more this is necessary, particularly since you may have to invite it rather than have it imposed on you. A wise leader doesn't look at accountability as a threat, but rather as a friend.

Stop and Smell the Roses
Maintain a healthy balance between work and recreation. Everyone has their limits. While being a workaholic might push you to the top, that kind of pace can only be sustained so long. Take a break. Don't neglect your family; they are (or should be) your base of support.

Remember to Nurture Your Heart
The writer of the Biblical book of Proverbs wrote "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it." (Proverbs 4:23)
It was interesting in reading the surveys of pastors that the vast majority of those who were no longer in ministry admitted that they had neglected their personal devotional life.

What many miss is that God is interested in our work. He created us and gifted us as individuals. He knows the satisfaction that we get from a job well done because He placed that need in us. He created us for a purpose. When His purpose and ours align wonderful things happen. There's a fulfillment that takes place that few ever experience.

There was an interesting scene that took place in the movie "Chariots of Fire." (I know I'm dating myself.) In this movie, Eric Liddel, a runner, is preparing for the Olympics. He was also training to be a missionary to China. I couldn't embed the clip, but you can watch it here if you'd like. The line "He also made me fast, and when I run I feel His pleasure," has always resonated with me. I believe that this is how we ought to live our lives - doing what we do with joy because it's what God made us to do. Endurance would be a good deal less trying if we could all manage that.

Related Articles:
Key Leadership Qualities - Maturity
Key Leadership Qualities - Resourcefulness
Key Leadership Qualities - Servanthood
Key Leadership Qualities - Security
Key Leadership Qualities - Communication
Key Leadership Qualities - Perspective
Key Leadership Qualities - Discernment
Key Leadership Qualities - Adaptability