Lessons in Practical Leadership

In our recent move to our new home, I discovered a book given to me by my late Mother-in-law, Janice Kessel, who has been with Jesus now for almost 14 years. The book is titled Leadership by Charles Swindoll. Janice gave me this book in 1985, fresh off the first printing as we were returning from Italy from our first tour of duty in the navy and getting ready to assume command of a Construction Battalion Unit back in the good old USA. A country we had come to love even more having been gone for 2 years. Janice’s handwritten note in the book included “I hope this little book will give you some insight into the responsibilities, the satisfaction and the source of good leadership abilities.” This was 36 years ago and 11 years before I became a Christian.

Although I am sure I must have opened the book back then, I don’t remember reading the book until this recent move. Since discovering this book again, I have read it and the associated scripture many times in the last 6 months. It’s an easy read and based entirely on the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians.

In the last 36 years based on my career positions, and serving as a deacon and now elder for Faith Assembly, I can confidently say that the four leadership actions the book describes from Paul’s letter are absolutely right on, not so difficult to understand, but not quite as easy to put into action without loving people. 

Without Paul using titles for the four leadership actions he describes, the book calls these:

  1. Sensitivity to Needs
  2. Affection for People
  3. Authenticity of Life
  4. Enthusiastic in Affirmation

 The scripture verses for each follow:

Sensitivity to Needs. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children (1 Thess. 2:7).

Affection for People. Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us (I Thess. 2:8).

Authenticity of Life. Nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working day and night not to be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example (I Thess. 2-9-10).

Enthusiastic in Affirmation. You are witnesses and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers, just as you know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2:10-12).

The bottom line of these leadership actions for work, church, or home are:

  1. Treating and appreciating people as people
  2. Caring for them appropriately
  3. Allowing people to get to know the real you
  4. Encouraging them in the issues of life
  5. Being sensitive to promptings to keep wise boundaries as may be necessary  
When my mother-in-law wrote that I would have insight into “the satisfaction and source of good leadership abilities”, I am certain she was praying that one day I would discover it isn’t about me, it is about Jesus who modeled love and these leadership actions with great success as did many who followed including the apostle Paul! 
 
I am still working on it, and one day by the grace of God hope to get much closer to achieving it. Thank you Janice and thank you Jesus! may all of us continue to build our practical leadership skills to the glory of God. 
 
Author: 
Randy Ortgiesen
Elder, Faith Assembly