To be a leader, you must learn to be led. Following is designed to produce personal leadership in you. ”Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by experiencing His pathos.” Jesus says, “Follow Me” to His disciples because you must follow in order to be discipled. At some levels, this “following” maybe reading books written by an international leader; but at the most important level, it means putting yourself into a position in which you can receive from a fathering leader.
When Jesus says, “You will do what I do,” He isn’t picturing mimicry as if we are all learning the same moves so we can do synchronized swimming. He is speaking of spiritual leadership dynamics that function on the inside that grow up, branch out, and bear fruit that remains. The fruit is behavior and action that manifest the DNA, power, grace, and purpose of the Vine. So, “follow” also speaks of “abiding” or simply staying put for the process.
To be a leader, you must learn to follow. You follow so you can be discipled. You are discipled so you can disciple. You are ‘a leader who makes leaders’ at some level of the kingdom of God. “Follow” doesn’t come natural; it must be learned. It will be challenged, and your adversary will place many obstacles in your way in addition to the weights you already carry that slow you down or trip you up.
Personal leadership is not “I’m in control.” Whenever you say, “I am in control,” you are compensating for the fact that you most certainly aren’t. Leadership initiates from outside us, from God or the leaders God designed into life to provide leadership. Then, leadership produces roots of influence and control on the inside.
The behaviors and actions of life come from motivations of the inner man. The inner man has a leadership influence and control working from the outside-in. Jesus says, “You cannot serve two masters.” Inner struggles within a double-minded soul bring confusion and instability to everything you do.
Personal leadership is the inner strength of will to surrender to a purpose and plan that comes from someone outside of you, not to be the source of your own destiny or purpose.
Principles of Personal Leadership, Goals
Goal setting is powerful. It provides both a destination for direction and a measuring stick for success. Goals bring definition to life. Jesus set them. Paul had them. Leaders make them stepping-stones to success. Goals stop confusion from stealing your emotional and mental energy. Goals keep insecurity and hesitation from stopping you dead. Goals limit wandering and provide a place to get back on track when you do. Goals are as personal as personal leadership gets; however, they are only good goals when they come from your source of leadership.
What I mean is, that goals come from purpose. Goals come from your God-given identity. Goals become a plumb line for building, a blueprint for construction, and battle plan for conquering.
But, I thought Jesus says not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself. Should a Christian have goals or trust God every morning? I am glad you asked that question because the question itself helps you understand goals.
Three things about Jesus’ words: 1. He is pointed to worry, not planning. 2. He is talking about the evil or the obstacles we anticipate to reaching goals, not goals themselves. 3. He is concluding a teaching in which He makes it clear that surrendering to God’s leadership as a basis for setting goals means that God will supply what we need to overcome whatever future obstacles we face.
Personal Leadership, Long-term and Short-term Goals
In order to have meaningful short-term goals – what I should do right now – I need to have meaningful long-term goals. A long-term goal tells me what to do right now. A goal called: “clean the house” comes with short-term goals that includes pick up husband’s socks or wife’s shoes, dust the ceiling fan before you dust the tabletop, top to bottom cleaning means sweep the floor last. Steps to finishing this simple, everyday task come from the long-term or bigger goal. Cleaning the house is a great maintenance goal because it contributes to effective living so you can pursue higher goals. Don’t ever think you are so call and spiritual that you cannot clean the house!
Any time you feel or say, “I am bored,” you must consider that you are not seeing the long-range purpose that defines the short-range priority that motivates you to action. You are not seeing the value of doing something that will produce some aspect of your destiny. What motivates you is out there somewhere, so you have to see the short-range advantage of doing something right now that will contribute to that long-range what-I-want.
Jesus created everything because His Father wanted it. At the same time, He signed up to die on the Cross to redeem it. So, when Adam and Eve fell, God already had a very distant, long-range goal in mind that defined His response to the fall of man thousands of years before Jesus was nailed to a Cross outside Jerusalem. God’s long-range goal had short-range steps designed within it that included Abraham, Moses, David, Elijah, and John the Baptist among the millions of others God destined to be part of His eternal plan.
Your personal leadership should have definable, written goals. Without them you don’t even have dreams. With some long-range plans your fantasies can become dreams that have the vision needed for their fulfillment. Vision will set specific priorities that will order your life. Long-range goals will help you define steps to success, adjustments along the way when surprises come along. Your long-range goals tell you what you need to be doing right now to accomplish God’s will for your life.
Personal Leadership and Kingdom Leadership
Kingdom people who have personal leadership always look for kingdom leadership because they soon realize they cannot accomplish the goals of God for their lives without the advantages God has given them in leaders. Children need parents. God designed it this way. Honor releases what God put into parents. Kingdom leaders understand leadership well enough to look for leadership in their own lives. Rebellious children lack personal leadership because they are living out their own fantasies, attempting to change the world to fit their wants instead of changing themselves to fit God’s wants.
Rebellion leaves you without short-range goals by short-circuiting the process. Rebellion blinds you from seeing the steps you need to take today to achieve the goals you have for tomorrow. Rebellion is a cycle that loops your around to repeated failure. It is the source of spiritual instant replay: striving, frustration, fear or anger, outbursts of bad behavior, despair that leads you to more striving, frustration, etc.
Your long-range goals come from God, not yourself, your friends and family, or from your leaders. Your leaders who can provide you with refined directions about what to do today to produce the goal God desires tomorrow; they should recognize your long-range goals as part of a process to fulfill destiny. Leaders are giving you the building blocks of personal leadership so that you can accomplish goals from inner strength and move on to bigger goals. The bigger goals bring you right back to God’s design: bigger plans require bigger leaders. You need leaders who can bring course correction to your short-term efforts so you don’t end up in Turkey when you are headed for Tahiti. Or don’t become a turkey when you are called to be a prince.
Obstacles to Leadership
All your goals have obstacles because you live in a contrary world. John says, “If you are a friend of this world, you are an enemy of the Father.” Why? Because the Father is the One who knows your ultimate, longest-range goals, and the world is out to distract you with demanding desires of flesh and eyes, and the pride of life. John says this: “The world won’t last and all the demanding desires it creates will disappear, but the one who does what God wants, carrying out His purposes in his life, remains forever!”
John says, “Do not love this world.” He is addresses your motivations. It is motivation that influences and controls your actions that fulfill your goals. If your goals match your passion, you feel empowered. If you have no goals, lost goals, fuzzy goals, you have nothing in which to invest passion. Once you have the right passion or motivation, you must feed it, make it valuable, and reset your life in the direction of your goal. Obstacles will distract you and you will invest yourself in things inconsistent with your goal. If that goal isn’t God’s goal for your life, you will dead end because the things of this world are all dead ends in the sense that they pass away. So, if you goal is physical beauty you are headed toward an end point of despair, an abiding boredom, and a life without purpose because is empty and short-term in the physical sense.
Leaders make decisions – set goals – and solve problems – overcome obstacles. Some of you are immediately disgusted and angry when an obstacle appears in your path to success. You are so childish that you think God and leaders should remove all obstacles and stack the deck for you so you always win and get what you want. This is not leadership. Leaders solve problems as well as make decisions.
I always look at both sides of this equation when I measure the effectiveness and maturity of leaders because most people like to make decisions but fewer are willing to solve problems. People love to have an opinion about what should be done and how it should be done but few of them are there to get it done because work is simply removing obstacles to the completion of the goal. If you want to make decisions but not solve problems, you are not a leader but a dictator! The people who rebel the most against leaders are often the ones ready to do what they want but not ready to clean up their mess or overcome the obstacles. They wish to play with life like a toy box and leave their toys out for someone else to pickup. Their toys are imitations of the real thing!