I teach a lot of supervisors and managers. One popular workshop focuses on the best practices of a leader. Based on The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership® by James Kouzes and Barry Posner, these practices originated from thousands of collected stories about the positive impact leaders have had on the participants in this survey.
The best practices* are:
- Model the way
- Inspire a shared vision
- Challenge the process
- Enable others to act
- Encourage the heart
This past week, it dawned on me that these apply to a spiritual life, too.
Model the way means to live as an example to others on how to act. As Christians, I believe many of us fall short on this one. Before you get upset with me, take a moment and glance through some of the angry and negative comments made on Facebook or Twitter. If you want to represent Christ as a Christian, you should be a positive example. There’s nothing wrong for standing up for something you believe in, we have that right in the USA, but we should use care in our phrasing and word choices.
What is your personal vision? Do you have ideas on how to reach others for Christ? Have you ever thought about how to do this? We need to inspire a shared vision with the people we come in contact with. If we don’t lend any inspiration, we stifle the Spirit, hiding our faith from others.
Just because we’ve done something the same way for years, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. When we challenge the process, we should open our minds as we study the Bible. Do you find new meaning or stubbornly stick to your first understanding of a scripture? As Christians, we need to challenge our thoughts and interpretations of scripture. We should check our understanding. Some of the wisest people I know say they gain something new almost every time they read the Bible. Do you?
The fourth practice causes me ask how I can help others in their walk with Christ. When we enable others to act in order to grow in Christ, we share the joy of salvation. If we don’t share that joy, if we don’t share our faith, we don’t allow others to act on their own growth. Do you enable or disable people to find this joy?
Encouraging the hearts of others comes easy to many, but I doubt everyone reading this is as successful at encouraging others as they might think they are. Remember to give a hug, a word of encouragement, a note, or a smile. It doesn’t have to be a lot or take a lot of time, although time enhances your impact on the hearts of others.
I believe each of these acts will allow us to fulfill this promise by Christ:
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 35
How do you fulfill these practices?
*You can read more about Kouzes’ and Posner’s research on their website: http://www.leadershipchallenge.com
Tune in over the next five weeks as I explore each of these practices individually.