As we begin this two-part blog series on Leadership Lessons from James, I would ask you this: what is your level of influence? Do you view yourself as a leader, as someone who influences others? Leadership is not relegated to a title or position someone holds. Rather, every believer is a leader in some capacity. I can guarantee that there are people in your “sphere of influence” who are looking to you in this way.
So let’s dive in. In this article, we will first look at how leaders do not quit in the face of difficulty (James 1:2-4, 12), how we should ask God for creative ideas (James 1:5), and how, as leaders, we are all called to guard our hearts (James 1:9, 13-15; 4:13-17). In next week’s article, we will examine a few more leadership insights from the Book of James.
A resourceful person can find a great deal of information available on the subject of leadership. Type in the word “leadership” in Amazon Books or do a search on the Internet and a wealth of information will appear. But one source many overlook is the Bible. Proverbs, The Gospels, Paul’s writings, and the Book of James are just a few places where leaders can glean a wealth of insight on how to be more effective leaders. For reasons too numerous to elaborate on at the moment, some have relegated the Bible to a place of irrelevance or of only having influence and impact in the church. This is not true, however, and the marketplace would do well to learn from what it teaches about leadership. Scripture is filled with insights on how to be an effective leader. One such book is the Book of James. This epistle contains at least nine great insights into life and leadership. Let’s take a look at a brief review of each one of those insights.
1. LEADERS DON’T QUIT IN THE FACE OF DIFFICULTY – JAMES 1:2- 4, 12
Most of us who have served in a leadership position are very aware that it comes with its own set of challenges. And there are times when those challenges are not easy. An important test of a true leader is how he or she handles the difficulties they face. By the way, I think a leader can always count on the inevitability of challenges and difficulties. The appropriate question to ask is, “Are we going to overcome these tests and trials or let them overcome us?” I suggest that instead of focusing on the problem, we focus on the possibilities that exist in that particular situation. These are the people who are able to take lemons (what is handed to them) and make lemonade (an appropriate outcome). These are the types of leaders who don’t allow the hindrances to dictate the outcome. Someone said “every cloud has a silver lining”. In one sense of the phrase, that means not taking “no” for an answer. But instead, finding a way to persevere and go over, under, around, or through the barrier. Most importantly, do not give up.
One last observation I would like to make here is that leaders who don’t quit are individuals who have learned to grow in the midst of difficulties. It’s in the midst of challenges that they discover God’s faithfulness, gain a greater revelation of His love, and come to terms with their own issues.
2. LEADERS SHOULD ASK GOD FOR CREATIVE IDEAS – JAMES 1:5
What a novel idea! Effective leaders “think outside the box” and one way they do this is by asking the Creator for creative ideas. At times, I think we focus too much on our own human inabilities and the limits of our finite knowledge. Though we have human limitations, we don’t have to stop there. We can go another step in realizing we have an endless Source. There is One Whose knowledge and creativity abounds. Once a leader truly understands this concept, he or she is then in a perfect place to ask God for creative ideas. The next medical miracle or engineering design could possibly come from someone who has the courage to pray, “Lord, release your creativity in me.” I think it would be great to hear a Nobel Prize winner answer the question, “How did you come up with the idea?” And then hear them say, “I was sitting asking the Lord about this problem and He said…”
3. LEADERS GUARD THEIR HEARTS – JAMES 1:9, 13-15; 4:13-17
Ask any leader if he or she wants to be successful and the answer will inevitably be, “Yes, of course I do.” Personally, I have never met a leader who did not want to excel at what they were doing—regardless of how small or large the task was. But may I ask you a question? Are you able to think of any traps that can accompany that success? Are there pitfalls in which leaders should be aware? The obvious answer is “yes”. Please do not misunderstand me. I passionately believe every leader should strive to be the best they can be, regardless of the setting where they are called to lead. I simply want to point out that leaders can also face the subtle temptation to fall into thought patterns that do not sync up with the “not so with you” model of Jesus found in Mark 10:41-45 and Matthew 20:24-28.
Jesus has called us to be servant leaders, irrespective of the context of our leadership. Every church or corporate leader should guard their hearts against a “lording (it) over them” attitude. Instead, they should have a heart to serve the ones they are leading. Maybe the best way to express this point is “never fall prey to” the intoxication of success.
YOU ARE A LEADER. Whether you have an official title or not, you have the potential of leading and influencing others.
In their book Lead Like Jesus, Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges write, “Most of the leadership that shapes our lives does not come from leaders with titles on an organization chart; it comes from leaders in our daily life role relationships.”
As you reflect on your experience and those who have influenced you, you may discover this is true in your own life. With this in mind, every person should attempt to become the very best leader he or she can be.
Action Point: As you walk through leadership challenges, ask yourself the question, “Lord, what should I learn from this situation?”
—Dr. Tom Jones
P.S. If what I’ve said here resonates with you, I would encourage you to pray about attending one of our healing school conferences. Over the years, Randy and I have developed two conferences that provide a solid foundation in living a supernatural lifestyle. It’s my heart for the events that they will empower leaders of every type to see a fresh revival come to their own sphere of influence. Along with Randy and our associates, I’ll be speaking at the upcoming Empowered conference at our headquarters in Pennsylvania December 4–7.
If you can’t make it in-person, we will offer a webcast as well. Click here to learn more about Empowered and register →