One of my favorite movies is Gladiator. It has lots of great leadership lessons.
In the opening scene, the Romans are preparing to enter battle against the Germanic tribes. Maximus, the general, is talking with his men, whom he is leading into battle.
There are several great leadership lessons in his words. The most famous is the quote "What we do in life echoes in eternity." It reminded the men of the impact their mission was having and took them to the "why" of the battle.
There is another quote from his words to the men that I want us to look at. It's these words: "Hold the line. Stay with me. If you find yourself alone, riding in green fields with the sun on your face, do not be troubled; for you are in Elysium, and you're already dead!"
The words that stand out are "Stay with me!"
Then, as you see him leading the men down the hill and into battle, you hear him yelling the words again in the midst of the battle: "Stay with me!"
He doesn't say these words while he is observing the battle from a hillside. He doesn't say these words from the back of the troop. He doesn't say these words through a captain he has appointed to lead the charge. He doesn't say these words from the safety of a fortress wall.
He says it from the front of the line. He says it while he is leading the charge.
This is a great reminder that leaders lead the way by example. If you are leading a ministry, then you have a responsibility to your team to lead the way by example.
If you want your team to invite people to join them and start volunteering, then you should be the first one out there asking people to volunteer.
If you want your team to show appreciation, then you should say "thank you" more than anyone else.
If you want your team to be passionate about the ministry vision, then you must be passionate about the vision.
If you want your team to be balanced by attending adult worship, then they must see you attending adult worship.
If you want your team to go the second mile, then you must first go the second mile yourself.
If you want your team to follow up with guests, then you should be the first one calling guests.
If you want your team to be part of a small group, then you should lead a small group.
If you want your team to be givers, then you must first be a giver.
If you want your team to personally connect with parents, then they must first see you connecting with parents.
Effective leaders know that their team looks to them for inspiration and guidance, so they first and foremost lead with their own actions. They show the way by leading the way.
Talk will only take you so far as a leader. Walking the talk is what enables you to lead effectively. When you do this, your team will follow you anywhere.
Do you think Maximus' soldiers would have fought so hard for him if he had sent them into battle and not went with them? Probably not.
When you lead by example, it builds trust. Trust is what enables a leader to lead effectively.
Think about it with me.
If you ask a team member to do something, make sure you're willing to do it yourself.
If you have guidelines you've asked the team to follow, make sure you are following them.
Make sure your attitude and behaviors are an example of the attitude and behaviors you want to see in your team.
If you ask people to stay and work extra hours, set the example by staying late with them.
With leadership comes the responsibility to set a good example. Be committed to "stay with me" leadership, and you'll see your team follow you for the distance.
Dale Hudson has been in children's ministry for over 27 years. He is the director of children's ministry at Christ Fellowship Church in south Florida. Christ Fellowship has nine campuses and ministers to over 25,000 people on weekends. Dale leads a children's ministry staff team of over 70 and a volunteer team of over 2,600. He has authored 100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Children's Ministry, 100 Best Ideas to Turbocharge Your Preschool Ministry, Children's Ministry in the 21st Century, Sunday School That Works, the churchleaders.com Top 100 book, and If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.
This article originally appeared at relevantchildrensministry.com.
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