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My Top Ten Lessons of Leadership

Posted on October 15th, 2009

If you ask 10 different leaders what they had learned over a long period of time, you will receive 10 different lists. It is determined by your unique journey and your strengths and weaknesses. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list of what a leader needs to learn. Rather it is what I wish a mentor had helped me understand from the beginning. I wish some kind mentor might have said the following words to me: 1. Be Yourself Pete, calmly differentiate your “true self” from the demands and voices around you. Discern the desires, vision, pace, and mission the Father has give you as you lead. Take off Saul’s armor. Be clear about yourself. Learn to control your reactivity. And remember, “to live unfaithfully to yourself is to cause others great damage.” Rumi 2.   Your First Work is to be a Contemplative before God. (i.e. to be with Him) You are not a CEO or even a leader/preacher first. You are called to be a contemplative first (Ps. 27:4).  Above all else, cultivate a pure heart before God, loving Him. Build the rhythm of the Daily Office into your life from day one, pausing 3-4 times a day to remember God.  You cannot bring people where you have not gone in God.  “Untie my hands and deliver me from sloth. Set me free from the laziness that goes about disguised as activity when activity is not demanded of me and from the cowardice that does what is not demanded in order to escape sacrifice”  (Merton Seeds of Contemplation p. 45) 3.  Practice Sabbath   Large spiritual issues are at stake, especially with regard to trusting God to be in control. In many ways this is an issue of life and death for your long term future. 4. Embrace the Gift of Your Limits Remember that “a man can receive only what is given him from heaven (John 3:27).   5.   Wait on the Lord     This is your life. You will finish the end of your days waiting on the Lord.  This is the most important work there is if you are to allow your soul to grow up and be what God wants you to be. 6.   Your First Most Important Ministry is to Yourself  Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers (1 Tim.4:16). Investing in your development is your first ministry. This includes monthly, quarterly retreats, utilizing the gift of therapy along the way, finding a good spiritual director and seeking mentors at different stages of the journey. It is the most loving gift you can give your church.  7.  Lead out of Your Vow of Marriage Scripture is clear about the vision of marriage between one male and one female as a pointer and a taste of Christ’s free love for His bride, the church. And central to this vision is the sexual relationship. It is essential, not peripheral, to your spiritual formation and discipleship as a Christ-follower. 8.  Live What You Preach  Enduring the agony and birthing process of preparing sermons.  Good sermons take a lot of time to gestate. If the sermons aren’t changing you, they will not transform anyone else. This is both a joy and an agony if fresh revelation from Scripture is going to come through the unique prism of your life. This never changes, whether you have only been preaching for 6 months of 30 years. 9.  All the Work of Pastoring/Leadership is Holy and Sacred  This took me 19 years to learn this hard lesson and I am still learning it. Preparing budgets, job descriptions, hiring, firing, planning a good meeting, handing in reports, confronting conflicts, etc. is every part as holy as prayer and Bible study. Be sure to fight against the sacred/secular split first in your own life and then in the life of the church. Recover a Biblical Theology of Work and Spirituality 10.  Things are Not as they Appear So often what looks great or a blessing is not. What looks terrible in the short run is, very often, a rich gift. When you think you are going forward, you may be actually going backwards. What appears as success, often times, ends up being a failure and setback. Failures will teach you much more than success every time. Chuck Swindoll recently shared his top 10 lessons at Catalyst 2009. They are excellent and worth reading. I  gave a talk on these 1o top lessons of mine noted above at Denver Seminary this past September. It can be found on their website: What might you add? Thoughts? Comments?

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