In a recent article Dan Reiland perfectly articulated important role encouragement plays in the life of any true leader. I have found these principles true of any great leader I have ever been in contact with. It is one of the key qualities of a good leader, and so, I encourage you to be an encourager.
“51% of Leadership”
Encouragement provides the emotional fuel that enables people to hold longer, reach farther and dig deeper than previously believed possible. Encouragement is 51% of leadership. As a leader, your role is to lift people, to build them up and help them believe in themselves in a way greater than they have before. So let me ask you a question. Do others see you as an encourager?
Encouragement imparts courage. My call to ministry came from the highly encouraging leadership of Dr. Orval Butcher, then pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church located in a suburb of San Diego, CA. Pastor Butcher believed in me, perhaps more than I believed in myself at that time. I was a Criminal Justice Administration major in college, but God spoke to Pastor about a different plan for my life. I didn’t have enough faith or courage to hear God for myself in the early stages of my call. I knew I loved the church and invested huge amounts of time serving in the College Ministry but didn’t know if I wanted the “life of a pastor.” Pastor Butcher’s encouraging words made the difference and enabled me to hear God’s voice on my own.
Encouragement isn’t something that you do from a checklist of “things to do today.” It’s a way of life for a leader. Encouragement is not a soft expression from a weak leader. The toughest of leaders understand that it’s something core to sustained success. Essentially, encouragement comes from a deep love and belief in people and a desire to see them experience life in a better way.
• Leaders who are encouragers naturally draw people to them.
Let me raise the bar of definition for encouragement. As a leader in a local church, if you are an encourager, when you are in a public setting, people will naturally migrate to you. This is not about a charismatic personality. It doesn’t matter if five people seek you out or fifty-five people seek you out. The point is that people will physically move to you because you cause their life to be a little brighter. I’m not talking about people who want permission, an extension cord or keys to the offices, but people who just want to be around you!
Let’s be honest, life is wonderful but it’s difficult. Isn’t it? Got bills? How’s your health? Do you have kids? Nough said! Life is good, but it has plenty of challenges. Life will press people down, so anyone who consistently lifts people up (sincerely) gains the ability to influence—meaning to lead!
If you are a leader in a local church and people don’t migrate to you, there is a reason. You need to discover what it is. Ask someone you trust, who loves you, and will tell the truth. For now, start encouraging others. Do it sincerely and often.
• Leaders who are encouragers communicate with a positive bias.
John Maxwell is the most positive person I know. He has high faith in people and sees life for its potential over its problems. He’s not delusional. John does know that life can be difficult. He just refuses to get stuck there. We were in Israel (February 2010) and John’s knee had been bothering him as a result of knee surgery. Climbing all the hills and steps from Masada to Jerusalem was a challenge! But not for one moment did that deter him from great leadership on the trip, serving people, (including Baptizing dozens of people in the Jordan,) and creating fun all along the way. You just never hear John complain. That’s the way it is with an encouraging leader, they communicate with a positive bias.
I’m not talking about a syrupy salesman type who promises the moon and delivers little, but a leader who knows a smile and a “can do” attitude goes a long way in any endeavor. I’m sure you’ve met leaders who seem to want to tell you how much work they have to do, how tired they are and how hot it is outside! They are not encouragers. Perhaps you have a lot of work to do, you may be tired, and it may be scorching hot outside where you live, but people don’t want to hear that. They already experience that themselves! I’m not suggesting lack of authenticity. You need to be real. You need a few close friends who you can blow off some steam with. But in general, if you want to lead, you must communicate with a positive bias. People need hope!
• Leaders who are encouragers are quick to invest generously in others.
I love telling this story about one of my mentors and encouragers – Keith Drury. He’s a professor in the Ministry Department at Indiana Wesleyan University. They call him Coach D! When I was a skinny kid with lots of dark brown hair, (My how things change), Keith demonstrated such generosity that marked my life for good. I was young and clueless in ministry and Keith was pouring leadership into a group of us young guys. I didn’t have any money and he knew there was a cool leadership conference I needed to attend. After our meeting, he handed me a book to read and stuffed it in my briefcase. When I later opened it, I found two one hundred dollar bills stapled inside with a note that said, basically, I believe in you, and see you at the conference!! I was blown away, that’s a lot of money but back then, it was a ton of money! More than the money was Keith’s investment of time and encouragement in me. The investment has dividends even to this day!
• Leaders who are encouragers know the value of spiritual encouragement.
Jump into the book of Acts with me. 19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20 Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. Acts 11:19-24
Barnabas is a spiritual encourager. He intentionally looked for “evidence” of grace and encouraged the people about their spiritual progress, and to remain committed in their faith. Perhaps it goes without saying, but encouraging people in their faith is at the very epicenter of your role as a spiritual leader. Your main job is not to grow a church, it is to grow people. When this happens your church moves forward and the Kingdom advances!
• Leaders who are encouragers are grateful for what they have.
As a leader, I find that I am often not satisfied with “where we are” but I am consistently content with “what I have.” This is more than semantics for me. I don’t think it’s generally in the nature of a leader to be satisfied. Leaders are progress oriented. Yet, we must be content with what we have in the moment or gratitude is lost in the process. And gratitude is an essential attribute of leaders who are encouragers.
If you, as a leader, focus on what you don’t have, it will be very difficult for you to encourage others toward who they are to become. I call this competing leadership energy. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you can’t pour your energy into what others need because those others become part of the solution to get you what you want. When you are grateful for what you have, you naturally are freer to encourage others. Bottom line, you can’t encourage if you are not an encouraged person yourself.
Take all this in knowing that leaders, even the best of the encouragers, occasionally have a bad day. That’s normal. But a leader will do whatever it takes, to get through it and over it, and get back in the game. That’s my encouragement to you. You will have an occasional difficult day, but it’s all worth it. Get some counsel from a friend, shake it off, remember your calling and keep on going.
Until next time,
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Posted on September 16, 2010, in influence, Leadership, recognition, Relationships, Team and tagged encouragement, Leadership, Personal Growth, personal relationships, qualities of a good leader, team building. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.