Rick Warren: 4 Characteristics of Great Leaders


If you're a pastor or church leader, God has given you a task much bigger than you can handle on your own. Leadership in 2020 has certainly put a magnifying glass on this truth.

At times this year, I'm sure your work has seemed utterly impossible.

The book of Nehemiah shows the importance of good leadership in the completion of a project. With the right leadership, the Israelites were able to complete a project in 52 days—a project that, for 80 years, people had said couldn't be done. When you get the right catalyst, important projects get finished.

What kind of leader does your church and community need? Nehemiah shows us four critical markers of a great leader.

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1. Compelling purpose. You need a vision that drives you forward. Nehemiah had that. When some of Nehemiah's enemies tried to entice him into leaving his work, he responded, "I am doing a great work" (Neh.6:3b, NCV). Nehemiah was single-minded. He committed to his project because he realized he was doing something that mattered.

Great lives are produced when they're committed to a great cause—and the greatest cause is the kingdom of God. Nothing else lasts for eternity. Too many leaders get distracted with trivial matters. If you want to lead your church to accomplish a great task, start by making God's kingdom your priority. Leave everything else behind.

2. Clear perception. You also need to be able to see trouble ahead of you. As a leader, anytime you attempt something big, trouble will come your way. Nehemiah had incredible discernment. Every time a trap came up, he sensed it. For example, he knew what his critics were planning: "They were planning to harm me" (Neh. 6:2b). And when these same men accused him of setting himself up as a king to eventually rebel against the Persian king, Artaxerxes, Nehemiah said, "Our enemies were trying to scare us" (Neh. 6:9a).

How did Nehemiah know this? He was perceptive.

You'll need this kind of perception as a leader, and you can only get it one way. James 1:5 (MEV) says, "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God." When you spend time in the Word of God, you begin to take on the mind of Christ and become a more perceptive leader.

3. Continual prayer. Nehemiah was a prayer addict. Prayer was always his first response, regardless of what happened. Notice in Nehemiah 6 that he didn't get defensive. Nor did he retaliate when the critics started making false accusations. He simply said what they said wasn't true—and prayed about it.

That's all you need to do, too. If people are falsely accusing you as a leader, you don't need a lengthy defense. Just say, "It's not true," and then take it to the Lord.

4. Courageous persistence. To tackle the big projects in your community and in your church, you can't give up easily. Keep doing what God wants you to do! Just because you show courage during difficulties doesn't mean you're not afraid. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is moving ahead despite your fear.

In Nehemiah 6:11b (NLT), Nehemiah said: "Should someone in my position run from danger?" Certainly, Nehemiah felt fear. He knew his life was in danger, but Nehemiah knew he was near the finish line. He refused to run away.

It is never God's will for you to run from a difficult situation. Instead, God wants you to face troubles as you pursue God's best for your church and community.

Look through history—from Nehemiah to the present time—and you'll see these four characteristics are present in every leader who reaches God-given goals.

So ask yourself:

—Do I have a compelling purpose that drives me forward?

—How's my spiritual sensitivity?

—Am I praying constantly for what God has called me to do?

—Am I persistent in doing God's will?

Everything rises and falls on leadership.

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times' bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

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