Monday, June 30, 2014

6 Gifts Of A Leader

Leader, you have gifts to give that can revolutionize lives, reshape organizations, and rejuvenate languishing teams.

Your most meaningful gifts are those that you can’t touch or see. There’s no wrapping paper involved. It’s about people touching people. And it doesn’t matter your zone of leadership—worship leader, creative director, or team leader. You have the raw materials to make these kinds of gifts.

Given by a leader, these gifts have unique potential that only you possess. Here are six gifts that you can begin giving today.

1.  Give encouragement.

It matters zilch how macho someone is. We all need encouragement.
Leaders face challenges. We need encouragement ourselves. When we receive encouragement, we’re able to pass it on. Encouragement begets encouragement.

The apostle Paul put it like this: “God…comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

We learn to encourage others when we receive encouragement from God. It’s almost as if needing encouragement is a prerequisite for giving encouragement.
We learn to encourage others when we receive encouragement from God.
Paul was very clear about his desire to provide encouragement: “If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:6)

Coming from a leader, encouragement has a depth of meaning. A single encouragement from a leader can go a long way in causing someone to be more joyful, more productive, more creative, and more beneficial to the body of Christ.

Here’s how to do it. Notice someone’s outstanding characteristics, good work, or positive contributions. Then, speak to them about it.

“Claire, I appreciated that Vacation Bible School idea you brought up in our planning meeting. That was really timely. I know it’s going to mean a lot to the parents and kids who participate.”

That’s a gift that will be cherished and remembered for a long time.

2.  Give edification.

Scripture has a lot to say about edification. But what is it and how do we do it?
It’s called “building up” in Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

It’s obvious from this passage that edification is…
  • something we say.
  • different from unwholesome talk.
  • helpful for people.
  • something that makes people better.
  • something people need.
  • beneficial.
Edifying isn’t just about quoting Scripture to someone. It’s providing positive and insightful conversation that benefits them.

An edifying conversation is one that goes beyond talk about basketball brackets and church gossip. The gift of edification has the other person in mind. How can you make their day better? What do they need? What will help them?

Ask these questions, and you’re ready to give a life-changing gift.

3. Give challenge.

Often, the most influential people in our lives are those who pushed us harder and further than we thought we could go. It takes some skill and practice to be a pusher without being a drill sergeant, but it can be done.
Often, the most influential people in our lives are those who pushed us harder and further than we thought we could go.
Challenging someone involves two simple elements:
  1. Identifying where someone needs to change.
  2. Giving them the hope and direction to change.
Because you’re a leader, you get to work closely with people, observing their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, a challenge can be as basic as saying, “That was a really good sermon. Do you think you could speak a little louder at the end next time?”

A leader who challenges others doesn’t need to be an in-your-face monster. He or she can be a gentle and persuasive friend.

4. Give interest.

Have you ever known what it’s like to look up to a leader, hoping that they would take an interest in you?

When you enter a position of leadership, there are people looking to you for mentorship, support, and recognition. Only you can give it to them.

Make a point of expressing true interest in the lives of those with whom you work. King David, perhaps one of the greatest biblical leaders, had a knack for noticing those around him, and expressing interest in them. From his elite special forces of “mighty men” to the feeble Mephibosheth, David was an expert at giving the gift of interest.

This gift is easy to give, but also easy to overlook. When you’re in the presence of your team members, do something as simple as making eye contact, greeting them, and asking them about their life—their day, their kids, their house, their vacation, their favorite sports team, their whatever.

Leader, your interest can go a long way in nourishing a person’s need for respect and appreciation.
Your interest can go a long way in nourishing a person’s need for respect and appreciation.

5.  Give prayer.

We neglect power and effectiveness when we neglect prayer. Leaders are, in part, responsible for shaping the prayer culture of their team or organization.
We neglect power and effectiveness when we neglect prayer.
It’s easy to forget about prayer’s remarkable power, and to neglect the force that it can have in shaping a church’s culture. It’s time to take on the practice of the ancient church in which the believers “devoted themselves…to prayer” (Acts 2:42).

When you offer to pray with others, you’re giving them a gift that will bring God’s blessing, and that will empower their own prayer life as well.

6.  Give counsel.

In many churches there’s a counseling pastor, counseling ministry, and programs for everything from marriage to money. Counseling is an important part of building healthy believers.

But every Christian is a counselor in his or her own right—no, not a licensed counselor, but someone who can provide biblical counsel nonetheless.
In the daily grind of work and life, you learn about people’s problems, questions, issues, and relationships. You discover areas where counsel is needed.

Be sensitive to opportunities to provide counsel, even if it’s five or ten minutes on a lunch break or a quick conversation before worship. As-they-happen opportunities for counsel are among the most timely and crucial. It’s a gift that you should give liberally.

The Gift-Giving Zone

When you step into your place of ministry, you’re in the gift-giving zone. There are people around you whom you can change with a simple gift:  
  • An encouraging comment
  • A shared insight from your devotional reading
  • A suggestion for improvement in that one key area
  • A thoughtful question about his family
  • A quick word of prayer together before starting a meeting
  • A time of thoughtful and intentional discussion about a problem she’s facing
These gifts aren’t easy to give. They take from us what we guard the closest—our time, our vulnerability, and our emotional resources.

But if you begin making it a habit to give just one gift a day, you can completely revolutionize your ministry. Under this kind of gift-giving culture, people begin to change dramatically. That guy who was so withdrawn and melancholy is showing signs of optimism and joy. The colleague who loved complaining is now a source of gratitude. The couple on the brink of divorce is now pursuing unity and restoration.
With God’s help, you can be a gift to other people.
With God’s help, you can be a gift to other people. Use your leadership to its full potential and start giving gifts.

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