Leadership requires wisdom, wholeness and conviction. Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you’ve got. Wholeness is the result of a healthy interior life. Conviction is what keeps you going beyond what is seen. Without these three crucial elements, things will easily get out of whack. Believe me when I say this, because I speak from personal experience.
Psalm 90 is a prayer of Moses. Within his prayer are three specific verses that speak to wisdom, wholeness and conviction, all of which point to Jesus as our source and salvation.
- “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
I tend to default toward a forever perspective, as in it’s going to be like this forever. In fact, the opposite is true. Things will change and variables will kick in. We have to think about time as it truly is: temporary. Whatever season we dwell in is just that: a season. As I write this, the grass outside my window is growing so fast that I can almost hear it. Four months ago, it was a different story. Now instead of 17 inches of snow, I see grass that’s almost 17 inches tall. Seasons and cycles are true of both our ecosystem and the organizations we serve. The aim is not to stop time but rather to make the most of it. God is a teacher, and one lesson He offers is on perspective. If we view our lives as small sections within His brackets of the eternal, we’ll start to see that nothing lasts as we know it today. The same is true with our families, our schedules and our hairlines.
Jesus is the wisdom of God. A heart of wisdom is a heart that belongs to Jesus. The cross is at the center of human history and gives us a gravitational pull that everything else must obey, including our stewardship of time. A truly wise leader will ask the question: How does the management of the resources God has entrusted to us point people to the cross of Christ? Are we pulled by the gravitational force of Jesus, or are we fighting in the wrong direction by pushing our own agenda? If time lasts forever, we have the luxury of dabbling with structures and systems. But time does not last forever, Jesus will return, and the mission is clear: make disciples. We need wisdom. We need perspective. We need help. Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
- “Satisfy us … with your unfailing love” (Psalm 90:14).
Leaders always run the risk of confusing their identity with their role. Part of what makes a leader is the need to prod, coach and nudge. We get excited by results because we want it to get better. Sometimes we give too much weight to results and end up overwhelmed by the valleys and euphoric by the mountaintops. The truth is that leadership is topsy-turvy, a mix of joys and agonies. I fall into the trap of feeling validated by successes, which means that I can easily feel like a failure when something doesn’t go as well as it could have. In every case, it was because I was letting leadership stuff fill the place in my heart where only God’s unfailing love should be. Satisfaction within the organization you lead will come and go. In other words, the satisfaction of leading comes and goes. To put it more bluntly: if leadership victories are what keep you afloat, you will fail.
That’s because the love that you feel when leading will turn on and off like a faucet. God’s love, on the other hand, is unfailing.
Jesus is the love of God. He reveals His love on the cross, which has nothing to do with your role as a leader. It has everything to do with who He is and who you are in His eyes. Just as Jesus loved the disciples long before He appointed them as leaders, He loves you and can see the difference between you the leader and you the you. Jesus may have appointed you to lead, but it wasn’t so that He could love you more. You’ve already got that. You are loved. You are adored. You are accepted. Choose satisfaction in the love of Christ, whose love will never fail. Serve in the confidence and satisfaction of that love and leave the results to Him. Satisfy us with your unfailing love.
- “Establish the work of our hands for us” (Psalm 90:17).
I spent the summers of my undergraduate years working for a mechanical contractor. A big part of my day was spent delivering specific parts for plumbing and heating systems to the crews in the field who were assembling huge schools and hospitals. Paul, the warehouse manager, would always give me a run with two to three stops, all of which usually involved dropping off some metal thing in a box. Most of the time, I had no idea what these parts were for or why they were so important, but I always got a good feeling when I’d deliver a box and the foreman at the jobsite would thank me profusely, all the while going on about how they could finish a job or a pipe run or something. Paul got the order and pulled the part, and my job was to bring it. It was a fun job that allowed me to drive long distances and listen to music and save the day like some kind of plumbing superhero. Paul, the mastermind warehouse manager, established the work for me to do.
In much the same way, God is the mastermind who establishes our work and then gives us what we need (hands) to do the job. Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes” (Acts 1:8).
Leaders run the risk of trying to establish their own work instead of letting God do the establishing. I have a tendency to carry out my own will in hopes that if I stay busy, I might get something done.
We need to ask God to set us up for His success so that the work we do is eternal and impactful. Jesus doesn’t call us to be the Lord. That’s His role. Our role is to serve by leading, according to the will of the Lord. When that happens, we get the spiritual fuel we need to keep going. We sense divine urgency. We get holy discontentment with how things are. And, like a brand new box of Lego, we see that all these pieces fit together and just need some hands to start the assembly. Establish the work of our hand.
Ministry leadership demands wisdom, wholeness and conviction. Let’s pray this way every day we lead for His glory.
Adam Davidson is the lead pastor of the Portage (Michigan) Free Methodist Church. Go to radamdavidson.com for more of his writing.
- Do you look to leadership victories to find satisfaction?
- How can you focus on God’s unfailing love instead of tying your identity to fluctuating results?
- What happens to an organization that becomes too dependent on one human leader rather than on God’s leading?