What Does Authentic Leadership Really Look Like?

Pastor Kim Martinez
Pastor Kim Martinez (Kim Martinez)

Pastor Joe answered the call for authentic leadership. He changed his illustrations to demonstrate that he, too, could be impatient. In staff meetings, he offered honest prayer requests, sharing his concerns for next week’s sermon.

Then he did a 360 evaluation. Members of his board, team and family gave the feedback. What was the one resounding piece of information that Pastor Joe heard back? He needed to be a more authentic leader.

What does it mean to be an authentic leader? How do you change from a top-down management style to one that will allow authentic leadership without losing credibility?

Here are some things that will help in your search for authenticity:

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1. Your weaknesses will help. Authentic leaders know themselves. No matter how spiritual you are, you are human. You have weaknesses and strengths. If you focus on your weaknesses as something that need to be fixed, you will attempt to cover them up, hide them. However, if you see your weaknesses as an opportunity to engage others in community, you will find yourself living in authenticity. We aren’t designed to walk alone. Our weaknesses are opportunities to invite others into our lives. Their strengths will match our weaknesses perfectly.

2. Questions are better than answers. God is speaking. When you lay before God not to find the answers so you can tell people what they are but to hear God’s heart, you will find the questions He wants to bring to your congregation. Those questions will move their hearts to attune with His.

3. The Spirit is at work. God is more interested than you can possibly ever be in seeing your congregation make an impact in your community. How could you figure out what the Spirit is saying to the hearts of your congregation? How could you harness His call in their hearts to help them work together to impact your community?

Sometimes it feels like people want more from us than we can give. Perhaps the way to authentic leadership isn’t about exposure but about need—our need for community and the community’s need to make a real difference.

Pastor Joe decided to change his approach. He gave himself six weeks to try a different approach and see how it worked. For starters, he came to staff meeting with the topic God placed on his heart and asked his staff, “Why would God want to say this to our people? How can we help them apply His Word while they sit in their cubicles and work the line? How can we deliver God’s Word in a way that will make a difference?”

Kim Martinez is an ordained Assemblies of God pastor with a master’s degree in theology from Fuller Seminary. She is a ministry and life development coach and can be found online at deepimprints.com. She writes a weekly column for ministrytodaymag.com.

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