Leaders I Want To Follow – Part One
Once a friend asked me about leadership—specifically what I needed and/or appreciated in a leader. After much thought, this list is what I came up with. It’s a fairly long list, so I’ll share Part One today, and then Part Two next week.
Leaders I want to follow:
- Are broken. I wish I had known Roy Hession. He writes about African revivals mid century and was actually a part of one. The revival had everything to do with Jesus breaking him, bringing him to a place of utter need at the foot of the cross. His book,Calvary Road, changed my life. I pick it up once a year, just to reintroduce myself to the principles within. I am more drawn to a leader who models and inspires the beauty of brokenness, who recognizes that it’s all about Jesus. I hope that others see me this way, although I know I fail. Self is often in control. My favorite quote relating to this is: “As we look honestly at our Christian lives, we can see how much of this self there is in each of us. It is so often self who tries the Christian life (the mere fact that we use the word ‘try’ indicates that it is self who has the responsibility). It is self, too, who is often doing Christian work. It is always self who gets irritable and envious and resentful and critical and worried. It is self who is hard and unyielding in its attitudes to others. It is self who is shy and self-conscious and reserved. No wonder we need breaking. As long as self is in control, God can do little with us” (p. 13-14).
- Are completely in love with Jesus. I don’t remember the Indian man’s name; I only remember his spirit. This man shared a bus ride with me to Urbana ’87, exuding an infectious passion for Jesus I have never forgotten. Lei Wah, my Malaysian friend, used to sit cross-legged before her cassette player worshipping God along with a worship tape. Her raised hands, closed eyes and fervent prayers have stuck with me until today. All I knew is that I wanted to follow such an example.
- Model empathy. My friend, mentor and fellow writer Sandi Glahn is the most empathetic person I’ve ever met. She weeps with me when I weep. She rejoices in my successes. I’ve often believed that a true marker for friendship is a person’s ability to rejoice with someone who rejoices. Sandi does that well—it deeply endears me to her. It makes me want to listen to her words, to relish them.
- Have possessions and people in perspective. Two of the most influential leaders of my life are Dr. Richard Swenson (author of Margin) and Randy Alcorn (author of Money, Possession and Eternity). Dr. Swenson did a talk for Focus on the Family where he reiterates the truth that people are more important than things. In order to spend more dedicated time to his family, he scaled down his practice. He learned the secret of contentment, something I long to emulate. He gave away his wealth in measured, prayerful ways. His words about wealth have revolutionized my thinking. His book is convicting, freeing and refreshing. I’ve had the privilege of both interacting with and listening to Randy Alcorn. His view of things in light of eternity has been one of the most liberating pieces of advice I have read. He lives and exemplifies the upside down paradox of the Kingdom — the first shall be last … eternal rewards are real … it is really hard for a camel to get through an eye of a needle … someday we will give an account.
- Are committed to lifelong learning. My husband Patrick comes to mind here. I enjoy leaders who are deeply committed to mining truth from the Scriptures, who are not satisfied with pat answers to difficult questions. When I read Oswald Chambers, I’m utterly thankful that he spent hours with Jesus and the Scriptures. I love the depth he brings to the Christian life.
- Model servanthood. My stepdad John exemplifies this. He is a deeply humble man who doesn’t mind taking the last place. He spends his life for others. I am inspired by him. Linus Morris, former president of Christian Associates International also comes to mind. I remember hearing a story about him visiting a missionary couple with a colicky baby. Linus took the crying baby and told the couple to go on a date. He washed their dishes. He cleaned their home. I love this about Linus and long for a better heart in this area for myself.
That’s Part One of my list. Be sure to stop by next week for Part Two, and in the meantime, feel free to add list items of your own in the Comments section.
Originally posted on March 5, 2011.