Under Development with the Right Foundation
Recently, in my neighborhood, it seems like there is always a new house under development. There are construction vans in the alley behind my house and cranes lifting 2 x 4’s and drywall. Often, I am rerouted while driving because streets have been blocked off because of the construction.
Many of the new buildings have different aesthetics, because they are constructed by a wide array of companies. However, the one thing they all do exactly the same is start by building a strong foundation. They know that without a strong foundation, the roof doesn’t matter. They could install the most beautiful kitchen fixtures and bathroom amenities, but without a strong foundation those things will come to ruin.
Although the goal is to build upwards, the most important work starts at the bottom. Effective leadership, like a building, must be built on a strong and proper foundation. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth,
“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor. 3:11)
In the fulfillment of your purpose you may be called to lead at some point. Leaders are not always the CEOs or the presidents. Sometimes they are the people who are properly positioned, with the proper knowledge at the proper time.
Remember this – You are always having an impact. You are either having a positive impact or a negative impact. It is never neutral. As you develop the purpose that has been placed in you, it is likely that you will become a leader in some capacity. To that end, it’s important that we understand some important truths regarding leadership.
First, there is no leadership without relationship. In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell wrote,
“Inexperienced leaders are quick to lead before knowing anything about the people whom they wish to lead. But mature leaders, listen, learn and then lead.”
As you listen, it will become clear how best to serve and care for those to whom you are connected. Serving others will make them want to follow you.
A leader with no followers is not a leader at all. True leadership is never pushed. It is pursued. Even the most evil leaders in the history of the world obtained willing followers (i.e. Hitler, the devil, Osama Bin Laden). At some point, you will need help in fulfilling your purpose. This means leadership is a necessity. Leadership is necessary for any plans or ideas to come to fruition. Therefore, the question isn’t if to lead but how to lead.
In his book, The Spirit of Leadership, Dr. Myles Munroe wrote,
“Do not seek greatness, but seek to serve your gift to others to the maximum extent that you can, and you will become a sought-after person. All true leaders are simply glorified servants. Genuine leadership is not measured by how many people serve you but by how many people you serve. The shortest distance to leadership is service.”
If you view your life as a building, the foundation should be servant leadership.
While relentlessly pursuing your purpose, it is easy to become domineering, dogmatic, or dictatorial. But in order to accomplish your goal, you will need to be humble, helpful, and honorable. You can’t force your way to true success. There are no short cuts to greatness.
When thinking about your ability to serve others, think about these 3 questions:
What do I have that I can give or offer to others?
You may be able to offer your expertise, testimony, experience, time, money, or guidance. The more intentional you are in growing personally, the more you will have to offer others. Think about ways you can help make someone else better. The best way to do that is to continue perfecting yourself and your purpose.
What leadership skills do you possess?
Some common skills of great leaders are: teaching, organizing, vision-casting, coaching, speaking, fundraising, promoting, networking, or motivating. You don’t need all of them but you do need to identify your strengths.
What do you hope to produce in those you serve and lead?
If you know your purpose then being connected to you should help others come to know theirs as well. Have you ever been around a great leader that awoke something inside of you when they began to speak? The good thing about your purpose is you don’t have to discover it. It’s already trapped inside of you. Sometimes it just takes the right person to awaken what might be lying dormant. Likewise, you should awaken the leadership spirit in those whom you lead. Ultimately, you should produce growth that facilitates world impact.
The shortest distance to the top is serving those who seem to be at the bottom. When you help others to rise they will in turn lift you to new heights.
Alex McElroy is an international speaker and the Pastor of Education at New Life Covenant Southeast Church, led by Pastor John F. Hannah, with over 20,000 members. Alex has been serving in both youth and teaching ministries at New Life for over 10 years. In his role, he teaches Discipleship class designed for adults to learn, fellowship, and grow in their faith in a small group setting.