Eight Questions Every Leader Must Answer
I was once working on a leadership study based on 1 Timothy 3. I realized that Paul gives us eight questions that every leader should evaluate themselves on.
1. Can I be trusted with insider information? Leaders often hear it first, or last, but we are often privy to serious and vital information. I am forced to ask myself, do people trust me when they tell me something that is especially confidential and private? Or are they worried they will hear it from the pulpit as an "illustration," or through the grapevine as a "prayer request"?
2. Can I delay making judgments after all the facts are in? Every time I have made an off-the-cuff judgment it's usually been wrong. A leader who is quick to pull the judgment trigger will never be an effective leader. Can you thwart your first impulse and then make decisions and judgments only after all the facts are in?
3. Can I listen and observe as God leads through people and circumstances? What is God saying through His Word? What is God saying through His people? How is He directing? In which direction should I go? Am I willing to listen and obey?
4. Can I confront people and situations appropriately? Okay, I'll admit it: I hate confrontation. However, if I'm going to lead with integrity, than I have to be willing to confront poor attitudes, wrong-headed thinking, words that wound, and blatant deception and misdirection. Each requires a direct but loving response. It's part of being a leader. John Cleese writes, “I have several times made a poor choice by avoiding a necessary confrontation.” Where on the continuum do you fall?
5. Am I looking forward and into the future? It's too easy to grow comfortable, fat, and happy in certain seasons of life and ministry. The comfort of the familiar is life threatening. When attending a church conference in Charleston, South Carolina, I heard Pastor Greg Surratt of Seacoast Church say, "Every old and stale thing you want to do away with in your church was once a good and fresh idea. Eventually your great and new ideas will grow old and stale too." I have to be willing to embrace the new, fresh, and untried.
6. Do I possess a "can-do" attitude? I once heard of a staff member who said he felt it was his role to tell the team why stuff they dreamed about couldn't or wouldn't work. How do you respond to new ideas? To "outside-of-the-box" thinking? Does it energize or threaten you? Pessimism is not a spiritual gift; it drains people and teams. Be the “can do” person on the team.
7. Am I willing to be vulnerable and transparent? Let me be transparent right now: I have a hard time being open and transparent. In a personal effort at transparency I once asked our church staff, "What's something I am doing that you wished I wouldn't do?" They were kind to me, but some answers came rather quickly -- and it wasn't as bad as I feared. Team members generally have a higher regard for the team leader who is vulnerable and transparent with them rather than the team leader who wants to appear like he or she has it all together. How transparent and vulnerable do you think you are to those you are leading? Why not ask them?
8. Do I possess the patience of Job? Patience is one thing I am very careful to never pray for ("...troubles can develop passionate patience in us..." Rom. 5:3, The Message). Who needs more troubles? In ministry, getting things accomplished is akin to constructing your own home. It always takes longer than you think and generally costs more than you anticipate. Churches can possess an army like "hurry-up-and-wait" mentality. Can you handle the "one more/last one" committee meeting with a good attitude and patience?
Which of the above can I answer showing positive results?
Which do I really need to work on and improve?
What one question really hits home in my certain situation?
What is my plan for tackling the issue head-on?