Character Traits of Great Leaders

Leadership 2

I have been studying  leadership lately. Pastors do not get leadership training in seminary, but we should. We are leaders in our churches, denominations, and communities. Many of my mistakes in ministry have been leadership mistakes. There is a lot of bad teaching on leadership out there. Also I realize the church is not a business. But great leadership, whether in war, sports, business, politics, or the church, exhibits certain key character traits that do not change from sphere to sphere.

Here are my favorite definitions of leadership.
Harry Reeder :A leader influences others to effectively achieve a defined mission together.
The Army: The Army defines leadership as influencing people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.
Kevin Kruse: Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others towards the achievement of a goal.

I like the Army’s definition  because of the last three words, “improve the organization.” The goal is not simply accomplishing a mission, but accomplishing it in such a way that the organization is not hurt.

Here are some character traits of great leaders I have pulled from several books. None of this is original to me.  This list is not comprehensive. I am sure I missed some things. Also any great leader will do some of these things better than others. You might be great at communication and poor at lifelong learning. But in all areas we can improve to lead our congregations or organizations better.  Continue reading

Ryle’s Five Points for Simple Preaching

Any preacher should go and read J.C. Ryle’s Simplicity in Preaching. I have become more convinced over the years for the need for simplicity from the pulpit. I have also become aware of how hard it is to attain simplicity. To be simple requires hard work. This little pamphlet by Ryle can be read in one sitting and bought for .99 on Kindle. Here are his five main points.

And now bear in mind that my five points are these:

First: If you want to attain simplicity in preaching, you must have a clear knowledge of what you are going to preach.

Secondly: If you would attain simplicity in preaching, you must use simple words.

Thirdly: If you would attain simplicity in preaching, you must seek to acquire a simple style of composition, with short sentences and as few colons and semi-colons as possible.

Fourthly: If you would attain simplicity in preaching, aim at directness.

Lastly: If you would attain simplicity in preaching, make abundant use of illustration and anecdote.