Monday, December 7, 2009

How Leaders Think

A few years ago I heard an audio message entitled "How Leaders Think" by John Maxwell, noted speaker/author/pastor whose specialty is leadership. I've thought of that message often.
Recently I shared with the athletes at the Athletes Bible Study in Lake Placid a series of Bible studies with the same title. What follows is a summary of our Bible studies. I hope they help you to think like Christ, to think like a leader, to be a great leader for Christ.

1. Leaders think BIG. When the armies of Israel looked at the giant Goliath they saw a man too huge to defeat. When the young boy David looked through the eyes of faith and confidence in himself and in God, David saw a giant who was too big to miss. David knew what it was to Believe In God. That's thinking BIG.

2. Leaders think about other people. One of my favorite John Maxwell quotes is, "He who thinketh he leadeth and no one followeth - he is just taking a walk." If no one is following you, then you are not leading. And leaders think about those who follow them. Just like the Good Samaritan, leaders take their time, resources and energy to help others, sometimes risking their own safety and security to help others.

3. Leaders have focused thinking. With the Egyptian army behind him, a raging Red Sea in front of him, and a complaining group of followers all around him, Moses focused on what he knew God called him to do: stand in obedience and see the salvation of the Lord. The result? All of the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land, and their enemy perished in the sea. The ability to stay focused in the midst of tremendous distractions is an important quality of a leader.

4. Leaders think creatively. When you notice the diversity and creativity in God's creation, you should be amazed. Whether you're looking through a telescope or a microscope, God's creativity is jaw-dropping. The colors, the shapes, the systems, the list could go on and on. When we studied this lesson, we had fun. And Christian leaders should unleash the creativity within them (that God put there) to find wonderful solutions to complex problems and to bring more beauty to the world.

5. Leaders have realistic thinking. Like Jesus said, if you're going to build a tower you better make sure you count the cost of building. Because if you don't, when you are half finished, people willl come by and ridicule you. And if you're going to war, you better make sure you can defeat the enemy even if you are outnumbered. A Christian leader acts on faith, yes, but he also is connected to reality. Leaders think realistically.

6. Leaders think strategically. Gideon was the runt of the runt litter, leadership wise. He was the smallest of the smallest clan of the people of Israel. Yet when God called him to lead the people to overcome their enemy, the Midianites, Gideon devised a plan (given to him by the Lord) that included torches, clay jars and shofars. The result was that their enemy was shocked, turned on each other, some fled, and the rest lay dead. God's plan for Gideon and the army was strategic. And it was incredibly successful.

7. Leaders think success is possible. They really believe. Their faith inspires others. They look at the mountains and really believe they can be moved. They look at obstacles and believe they can be overcome. They look at Jesus and walk on the water, just like Peter did. Leaders always see the glass as half-full. Because it is.

8. Leaders have reflective thinking. The Psalms are filled with words to reflect on, to memorize, to meditate on. Leaders follow the examples of the Psalmists and reflect on God, on His Word, and on the events of life. Jesus Himself took time early in the morning to get alone with God and pray. Leaders know the discipline of silence, solitude and reflective thinking. This is where some of the most amazing ideas come from - ask any inventor.

9. Leaders question popular thinking. The way is wide that leads to destruction and there are many that find it. The way is narrow that leads to life and there are few that find it. Leaders notice which way the crowd is going, and don't just go along. Christian leaders realize that the way of Christ may be hard, but it is always the right way to go. It's the only way that leads to life.

10. Leaders think with others. Christian leaders know that there is wisdom with a group of counselors, and they surround themselves with godly friends. They know that "iron sharpens iron," and so they seek to strengthen themselves by surrounding themselves with sharp thinkers. They don't presume to have all of the answers. They bounce ideas off of godly people - friends, mentors, pastors, others.

11. Leaders think unselfishly. They know that God put them on the planet to help others. They think about how their life can make a difference in the lives of others. They know what Jesus meant when He said, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Leaders are willing to serve others, to help them succeed, to help everyone do their best. Without neglecting their own responsibilities to be their best, leaders find ways to unselfishly help others.

12. Leaders think bottom line. The bottom line means "success." For a Christian leader, success means having a pure heart, seeking first the kingdom of God, making the one goal of their life to be pursuing the prize God has set before them - eternal life. Therefore they are seeking their entire life to be successful in God's eyes. Everything they do is for the glory of God, to expand God's kingdom, to show their love for Him.

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