Many of my readers are leaders.
And good leadership is one of the keys to success in every organisation – be it the church, a church related organisation, a social enterprise or a commercial organisation.
Leadership is something that has always been close to my heart, and so I’m going to focus for a while on some of the keys that the Bible can teach us, about good leadership.
And I’ll start at the very beginning – the time when God decided to start his “organisation” called “Earth.”
Gen 1:1 In the beginning, when God created the universe,
Gen 1:2 the earth was formless and desolate. The raging ocean that covered everything was engulfed in total darkness, and the Spirit of God was moving over the water.
Gen 1:3 Then God commanded, “Let there be light”—and light appeared.
Gen 1:4 God was pleased with what he saw. Then he separated the light from the darkness,
Gen 1:5 and he named the light “Day” and the darkness “Night.” Evening passed and morning came—that was the first day.
Gen 1:6 Then God commanded, “Let there be a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two separate places”—and it was done. So God made a dome, and it separated the water under it from the water above it.
Gen 1:7 (SEE 1:6)
Gen 1:8 He named the dome “Sky.” Evening passed and morning came—that was the second day.
Gen 1:9 Then God commanded, “Let the water below the sky come together in one place, so that the land will appear”—and it was done.
Gen 1:10 He named the land “Earth,” and the water which had come together he named “Sea.” And God was pleased with what he saw.
God started creation by tidying up his work environment, and he did this by putting things together that belong together.
One of the people I respect most in life, Matthew Blewett, used to often say that we should “undo the complexity of our business.”
One of the most important tasks before a leader is exactly this: To learn to unravel the complexity of an environment, and put things where they belong.
There are a few keys here when we look at the way God went about doing this, that can be useful in the life of the leader:
The Spirit of God was Moving Over the Water
There is a management method called “Management by Walking About.” And it is exactly what the name says. It means that as a leader, sometimes you need to walk around, look at what is happening, ask people about what you see, and think about it.
Other translations use the word: “hovering.”
We all have a place inside of us where we contain the world that is around us. Some people say we have “maps” of our environment in our mind. As a leader, it is important that you spend time to think about your environment. “Hover” as it were over your organisation, peruse the maps, think about where things have come from, where things are at now, and where they are going. Regularly update your internal maps to make sure they accurately reflect the world around you.
This is not about actively DOING, but about passively observing, both that which is physically obvious, and that which is deeper – the linkages and connections that you can only observe when you close your eyes, and begin to spread out the map of your world in your mind’s eye.
It is in this place that your spirit can connect with God’s spirit, to give you God’s view of your world.
Then God Commanded
It starts with a “then,” which reminds us that there is a sequence here. God first moved around and observed, before He commanded.
The first step to giving effective instructions is understanding your environment.
As a leader, most of your work will be done through others.
God didn’t need to learn this – He had the power.
But we have to learn to instruct in a way that will motivate people to bring into being a better future. Learn the art of giving instructions that motivate, that enthuse and inspire.
… “Let there be light.”
Light enables us to see what is going on.
As a leader, one of your tasks is to enlighten people. People work better when they can see. Build light into your organisation. Make sure that people have access to information they need, and that people get exposed to information that they might not even have known they needed.
When we can see what is going on around us, we work better.
We are sometimes, as leaders, tempted to hide information that might not “look so good.”
Note that God spoke the light into being while the world was still in chaos. He knew it was chaos. But He didn’t try to hide the chaos.
Don’t try to hide from your people the things that don’t look so good. You need them to help you make things better – and for that, you need them to see things the way they really are.
God was pleased with what he saw
This phrase appears twice in the above piece.
Does this mean He was now happy with everything?
No, otherwise He would have stopped.
But He had issued an instruction, and that instruction had a certain result. In the first instance, the result was that the chaos was exposed. And yet, God was pleased.
As a leader, take time to enjoy and celebrate success, even if that success exposes a whole hornets’ nest of trouble.
Before He went on, He thought it fit to record the fact that He was pleased.
When you have made a change, don’t just keep barging ahead. Stop and ask yourself: “Am I pleased with the results thus far.”
If not, you might want to take action BEFORE you go any further.
Leadership is often a long journey. Stopping regularly to appreciate what you have achieved will go a long way to keeping your and your people’s motivation up. It gives a sense of accomplishment, and with that comes a strengthening of the belief that we can go on, and achieve more.
He separated …
- … light from darkness
- … a dome to divide the water and to keep it in two separate places
- … the water below the sky come together in one place, so that the land will appear
God started tidying up, and he did this by identifying things that belonged together. He gave everything a place.
Lean Management teaches: “A place for everything and every thing in its place.”
Organisations, like children’s bedrooms, tend to move towards chaos.
As a leader, this is going to be one of your continuous tasks, to help you unravel the complexity of your business. Continually figure out, and then remind people of where things belong, and why they belong there.
He named …
- … the light “Day” and the darkness “Night”
- … the dome “Sky”
- … the land “Earth”
Naming and labelling things helps people know what belongs where, it reduces the need for explanations, and it creates a shared understanding of meaning.
- Take time to know and really understand what is going on
- Give effective instructions
- Enlighten people through effective sharing of knowledge
- Pause to appreciate your successes regularly
- Give things a place and put them in their place
- Give and use names consistently
Blessings to You