Leadership is both art and skill. I happen to believe you can learn to be a good leader although there are some leaders who seem to have been born to lead. Leonard Sweet once wrote "leaders are neither born or made but summoned" and to that point we know leaders who are defined by the moments in which they are called to lead. Names like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln, Norman Swartzkolf and Rudy Guiliano to name just a few. These were men summoned to the moment and whose leadership was defined by their actions "in the moment."
I coach leaders every week and we talk often about style, form and preference but leadership is not about preference--it's about principle. Pastors can feel pressure from well-meaning influencers to make decisions that will be popular or well-received and often these recommendations are the result of preferences. The pressure to acquiese to such influence can be deadly to organizational health. When we lead by preference, we find awkward moments difficult to explain. For example, just because you prefer one style of music does not make that a good leadership decision. The better question is "is there a style of music that brings people to Jesus?" The former is preference--the later is principle. Leaders who engage and influence on principle can work from the objectives they have set beforehand and are not so easily swayed by opinions and reactionary environments.
The term "thinking long" is not mine it actually is found in Will Mancini's fascinating book God Dreams and infers that our churches and leadership must take longer looks, make strategic decisions that are more closely tied to the longer view of where are intended to lead. Look at discipleship as an example. Most churches I work with have weaker than desired discipleship programs. Whether its small groups, Sunday school or other media-based programs, pastors and leaders are disappointed with their discipleship strategies. But what if we lead on the principle of discipleship as a fundamental core value of our churches and given time, developed a strategy for discipleship that had measurable outcomes and metrics that define what it means to win at discipleship?
Principles stand the test of time, preferences change. Leadership that lasts, that truly makes a difference always works best when based on principle, not preference.
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