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5 Truths for Effective Kingdom Leadership

There is a common untruth that flows from the lips of many Christians. Perhaps you have even said it yourself. It is the lie of, "I am not a leader." I hear this statement often. It typically sounds something like, "Preacher, I'm no leader; I'm a follower. I just want to serve and do what other people tell me to do. I'm not a leader." This thought process could not be more untrue. 

Every Christian has a bare minimum of three leadership assignments. One place of leadership is in the home. If you are a man reading this and you have or plan to take a wife and start a family, you are a leader. If you are a woman reading this, and by God's grace, He gives you the opportunity to be a mother, whether through birth, fostering, or adoption, you are a leader and a nurturer of hearts. If you are a young person, you are preparing for the day when you lead in your own home. Another space we are called to lead in is at church. As you disciple others, you use your life to lead people to grow in their faith. As you use your gifts and abilities within the body of Christ to serve, you are ultimately leading other people. And the third leadership role we all have as believers is in the world. Every Christian should be willing to share the gospel with the desire to lead others to Christ. 

So we are all leaders as we impact our homes, our churches, and the world for the good of the kingdom and the glory of God. That means you are a leader. So, this message is for you. It's for all of us, and it's five simple truths that we find in the thirteenth chapter of Exodus, a passage that offers us the invaluable wisdom Moses received about leadership from his father-in-law. 

Here are five truths for effective kingdom leadership, along with the Scripture they are based on:

  1. Leadership demands limitations.

Exodus:13-18: "The next day Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood around Moses from morning till evening. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, 'What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?' And Moses said to his father-in-law, 'Because the people come to me to inquire of God; when they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make them know the statutes of God and his laws.' Moses' father-in-law said to him, 'What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.'"

The number one thing people say when I ask how they are doing is, "I'm tired. I'm just tired." One of the ways we exhaust ourselves as leaders is by not recognizing that we have limits. As a matter of fact, one of the best ways to limit anything in your life is to try to do it all yourself. This was exactly what Moses was trying to do, and Jethro told him it was not good. 

The most effective leaders are masters at saying "no" to what is not theirs so they can say "yes" to all God has called them to do. 

Leadership truth to remember: You can’t do it all.

  1. Limitations demand delegation. 

Exodus:19-21a: "Now obey my voice; I will give you advice, and God be with you! You shall represent the people before God and bring their cases to God, and you shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do. Moreover, look for able men from all the people,..."

Jethro knew that, while Moses' desire to lead was good, his method was wrong. Jethro told Moses he would have greater effectiveness when he stopped trying to do everything on his own. Because not only could he not do it all, he shouldn't do it all. Moses needed to delegate. Leadership could not stop with him. He needed to find ways to empower other people. 

The same is true for us. Perhaps you teach in the student or children's ministry at your church. You may lead a Bible study or be part of the worship team. You might usher, greet, or provide security at your church. All of that is wonderful. But one of the greatest things you can do for your church (along with fulfilling your role faithfully) is to replace yourself. Because for every teacher of young people, churches need others who learn how to teach. For every person who knows how to go into their workplace and lead a Bible study, you need to lead someone else in your workplace to know how to lead a Bible study.

The measure of leadership is not how much you do; it's how much others do because you came into their life. 

Leadership truth to remember: You shouldn’t do it all.

  1. Delegation demands identification. 

Exodus 18:21b: "...men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe,..."

If limitation demands delegation, then delegation demands identification. Basically, it matters who you choose. Jethro told Moses to look for three basic things in the leaders he would appoint: ability, humility, and integrity. When someone cares about their private life being in line with God as much as they do about having a public title, that person will be someone trustworthy to lead. 

Perhaps you are the one longing to be in a leadership role. Ask the Lord to help you develop your ability, pursue humility, and make sure yours is a life of integrity. And as you stay holy, stay humble, and stay hungry, you will be amazed at what God will entrust you with.  

Leadership truth to remember: It matters who you choose.

  1. Identification demands implementation.  

Exodus 18:21c-25: "'…place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times. Every great matter they shall bring to you, but any small matter they shall decide themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, God will direct you, you will be able to endure, and all this people also will go to their place in peace.' So Moses listened to the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. Moses chose able men out of all Israel and made them heads over the people, chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”

Once you choose people you can trust to lead, you have to release them to lead. This implementation will not only require great trust, but it will also call for wisdom, organization, and a plan. 

Notice that Moses was to entrust people with different levels of leadership - some leading thousands, some hundreds, some fifties, and some only tens. He had to determine their level of capability and then divide them out to implement the plan. And as time went on, I feel sure those who proved themselves trustworthy with the little they had were entrusted with more.

Leadership truth to remember: Release them with a plan.

And lastly, 

  1. Implementation demands participation.  

Exodus 18:26-27: "And they judged the people at all times. Any hard case they brought to Moses, but any small matter they decided themselves. Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went away to his own country."

It is important to note that there is a difference between delegating and abdicating. Abdicate means not to fulfill, to walk away from your responsibilities. No one wants to work with or for that person. To delegate means you entrust others with roles and responsibilities, but you do not abandon your place of serving beside them. Moses did not check out because he had signed other people up. He continued to hold court and judge, as well, deciding the hard cases as God's anointed prophet. 

As Moses followed this pattern of delegation, Jethro told him that he would be able to endure and the people would know peace. This did not mean a total absence of conflict. Cases would still need to be judged, and wars were ahead for God's people. But they could rest in the knowledge that their leaders would hear them, guide them, and lead them according to the statutes of God. 

Leadership truth to remember: Lead and serve with them.

In summary, YOU are a leader! But you can't do it all. You shouldn't do it all. It matters who you choose to lead with you. And you must not only release them with a plan, but you also need to lead and serve with them. 

So, who are you leading, and how are you leading? Are there more people leading Christian lives because of you? You can probably think of incredible leaders throughout your life who you are deeply grateful poured into you, but are you on someone else's list? Will there be people at your funeral who can say that you led them well in the way that you followed the Lord? That you got them involved, delegated to them, pushed them, and released them to serve? 

Again, you are a leader, and I hope you will allow the Holy Spirit to help you lead according to the principles God has given us.