A healthy, flourishing culture starts with leaders who demonstrate the fruit of the Holy Spirit and engender high levels of trust throughout the organization.
How do you become such a leader? For Phyllis Hennecy Hendry, President and CEO of Lead Like Jesus, the answer centers on three interactive spiritual truths that can affirm, challenge, and even re-define how you see yourself as a leader.
When we sat down to talk, Phyllis cut to the chase. “In their book, The Leadership Challenge, authors James Kouzes and Barry Posner reveal that the most important leadership characteristic is credibility: ‘More than anything, we want leaders who are credible. People must be able to believe in their leaders.’”
Phyllis then broke open three foundational leadership qualities—three spiritual realities that can lead you to a deeper understanding of what God desires for you in your leadership.
1. Personal self-awareness
Where are you?
“John Calvin in 1536 said, ‘There is no deep knowing of God without a deep knowing of self, and no deep knowing of self without a deep knowing of God.’ In the gospels, Jesus offers us a clear invitation to self-knowledge when He says, ‘Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye without looking at the log in your own eye?’
“This is Jesus’ hint to us that we need self-knowledge; we are to take the log out of our own eye before we can clearly speak into the lives of others.
“‘Where are you?’ is the same question God asked Adam in the garden. To hear God ask, ‘Where are you?’ is to ask ourselves, ‘What’s happening in my heart?’ Like David, we can come to the Lord and say, ‘Search me oh, God. Know me, test me, and see if there is anything offensive in me.’
Sometimes, when I look at myself and my own heart, I discover something ugly and unexpected. It may be pride or focusing too much on myself.
“To answer the question, ‘Where am I?’ ask yourself:
- What are my idols? Martin Luther said, ‘Whatever your heart clings to and confides in, that is really your god.’ What is your heart clinging to more than God? Is it your ministry? Your family? Money? Addiction? Lust? Recognition?
- What gives you self-worth and security? Does it come from the opinions of others? External appearance? Family heritage? Possessions? Your skills? Your experiences?
- Who is the primary audience and authority of your life? Is it family? Team members? Board members? Donors? Friends?
“As we see ourselves more clearly, we approach a second reality:
2. Personal Repentance
What are you doing here?
“Elijah had defeated all 450 prophets of Baal, yet in the midst of this he learned Jezebel was after him, so he ran in fear to hide in a cave, which was where God came to him, twice, and said, ‘Elijah, what are you doing here?’
“The thing about sin is that it doesn’t happen all at once. We edge into it, it leaves a trail and it leaves us wondering, ‘What am I doing here?’
“How many times do we, as leaders, come to a place like Elijah
who felt he had done so many right things and yet said, ‘I’m the only one here at work. There’s no one doing the work I’m doing.’ It’s in these places that we need to take every thought captive, repent of our fear, discouragement, and those things that have become greater loves to us than the love of God. Repentance before God commits us to turn around and change. And this brings us, front and center, to Jesus.
Surrender is an opportunity to say, ‘I want to give my life over to the One who loves me the most.’”
3. Personal surrender
Do you want to be healed?
“Twice, Jesus asked an invalid man, ‘Do you want to be healed?’ As leaders, are we satisfied with where we are with the impact of our lives, and your life as a whole? Or, like this invalid, do we want to be healed?
“Surrender is an opportunity to say, ‘I want to give my life over to the One who loves me the most.’
“Becoming a disciple of Jesus activates in us a process of becoming whole, a process that forms us to be more like Jesus, as we begin to know and experience Him in our lives.
“The Christ-likeness that’s being formed in us determines what behaviors come from us. Our credibility and trustworthiness are revealed moment to moment in our behavior and through our lives—and this impacts the culture of our organization.
“In his quest for God’s will in his life, George Muller said, ‘I seek, at the beginning, to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter.’ Without surrendering, we’re going to live a life disconnected from our source, God.”
A final thought
True to her own integrity and credibility, Phyllis matches her honest words with actions that inspire.
“The longer I live in my relationship with Jesus, the more I want to be like him, and that requires becoming more aware of things going on in my heart and my thinking. This causes me to repent and come back to that moment-to-moment surrender and new desire to be healed.
“In this life, we don’t get a map, but we do get a Guide. It’s so important that we constantly remember who we are and Whose we are. God is in the character forming business, and when we lean into him, he goes with us in all the steps we take, forming us as leaders called to be authentic, humble, and credible in every way, every day.”
It’s Your Turn!
- Where are you–in your work, your private life, with God?
- What would repentance look like for you, today?
- Where do you seek healing?
“Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership”
Ruth Haley Barton,
The Employee Engagement Survey
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