One of my goals is to read three new leadership books in the course of this next term. I started by picking up John Maxwell's "Developing Leaders Around You," as it seems very pertinent to my future plans. in it he talks about what makes a good leader. I read through chapter four thinking it was good advice and noticing lots of similarities in his other book "Developing the Leader Within You," also a good read, but it was not until I read through 2 Corinthians later that day that I realize these leadership principles are no new thing. In fact, the Apostle Paul demonstrates them so well, he basically wrote the book on it... Well okay not really, but the way in which he relates to his followers -and those he is training into leadership, has so many similarities to Maxwell's advice (he is a preacher, so who knows, maybe he got his tips from Paul).
I was so impressed by the similarities of Paul's discipleship approach and Maxwell's advice on developing leaders I thought I would share a few of the parallels. I will start by sharing few of the principles outlined by Maxwell and then will relate how Paul expertly uses the same methods. Before I jump into this, however, I want to share with you that 2 Cor is a letter written to a church with whom Paul had a long-standing relationship. He had spent time with them, built churches with them, and given them correction for misconduct. As you read the letter you can see Paul is very specific to details dealing with their situation and their history.
Paul knows who he is and what he has been called to. He shares of his weaknesses (12:1-10 -not a typical act for leaders wanting to "impress" others with their having it all together) and he tells of his hardships as well as admits when he is speaking from his own boastfulness (11:16-30). He does not carry the presumption that he has everything together and is intentional to discuss areas of conflict in his plans to come see them (1:15-17). his open communication on this also shows that he understood that when you don't say something, you still say something. if an area of uncertainty/change is left unaddressed by the leadership then those following will make up their own minds about why their expectations were not met. paul was clear to address these areas and make sure no one made false assumptions about his reasons for what he chose to do.
this is one thing that paul did and did very well. I mean, he was pulled in many different directions as ministry often requires, but he purposed to spend time with the Corinthians. He mentions several times that this will be his thrid visit to them. Acts 18:11 tells us that Paul spent a year and a half pouring into the people in Corinth. Time is valuable, it is something you can give and won't ever receive back, but Paul knew the importance of spending time with people. There is no quick-fix replacement to spending quality time in developing people.
Believe in People
Paul believed in his followers, despite their hard fall from righteous living as seen in 1 Cor, he still loved them and encouraged them and told them he had boasted about them to others who would visit (7:13-16) and to other churches about their generosity (9:2). He looks passed their faults and builds them up by affirming his belief in them. He says, "I am glad I can have complete confidence in you. (7:16)" What would it feel like to have someone who you look up to say that about you? It would be awesome, I think it would even make you want to live up to that high expectation.
Give Encouragement and Hope
All through the letter Paul is encouraging them by reminding them who they are in Christ (3:1-18). He gives them encouragement about their future of being with the Lord (5). he calls them to be separate from the world and encourages them that they can have the righteousness of God (5:16-21). he also gives grace and hope for the sinner by telling the people that the repentant sinner should be welcomed back and forgiven (2:5-11), he also expresses his hope for the people and provides encouraging words about Go, their comforter (1:3-7).
Paul is consistent in character and backs this up through his telling of his rights to true apostleship (10-11) and through his explanation of changed plans (1). Throughout thee letter, he not only defends his ministry and integrity but also admonishes them to follow in the consistency of walking with the Lord, as he has shown.
Lead with ConfidencePaul's ministry exhibited an unusual confidence, he wrote with boldness and speaks with authority that is firmly grounded in his calling as an apostle of Christ. he boasts in God and the call he has. in chapteer 10, Paul defends his ministry and throughout the letter he firmly establishes himself by speaking with authority given to him by God. Confidence is one thing that followers and future leaders need to see modeled, they won't want to go where there is not a sure direction
Through his forgiveness and acceptance of those who had done wrong and then repented, Paul shows that there are open arms in the body of Christ that provide a welcome to those wanting to return. he demonstrates that there is no being "kicked out" forever; there is security in God's family when you turn back to Him. Paul is also free in sharing of his love for them and urges them to share this love as well (6:11-13). This affirms that their relationship is secure, as he speaks to them as his beloved children.
This one is not followed in the business sense of the word, the idea is that you reward people for doing what you want them to. Paul's goal was to bring his followers to repentance. he praises them for their repentant hearts and for their godly sorrow, (7) all the while, affirming his love for them and his desire not to hurt them.
Establish a Support System
Paul worked within a network of churches. He shares this freely and encourages the Corinthians to be generous to their brethren. As well as his call for generosity, he says how he has boasted of them to these other churches and how they are accountable to them and to God. he had also sent support to them through other churches' donations (8-9), he gives them emotional and spiritual support through his encouragements.
Discern and Personalize the JourneyThis point is the first one that jumped out at me as I read through 2 Cor. You can tell immediately that he is speaking to a people with whom he has a history. he cares for them and speaks to their needs. he is not shy in addressing their problems and gives tailor-made solutions and advice. he trains them based on their needs, as opposed to giving just generic advice; such as we find easy to give such as: "pray about it," and "WWJD?" He told them what they needed because he knew their situation and was invested in their success.
These are just a few of the principles mentioned in Maxwell's book and I am sure that many more could be found through the life of Paul. I hope that you've found it encouraging, if not just interesting, to see these similarities.
What principles do you think are needed for good leaders?
Where have you seen them modeled in Scripture?