The Key to Great Leadership

Several weeks ago, I was at a conference displaying my wares.  Well, my coaching services, but you get the drift.  I gotta be honest.  I was a little surly.  

I was at a pastor's conference and I was frustrated.  Few stopped by to say hello.  Few stopped by to see how my new business could be a resource.  It just left me feeling insignificant and unimportant in the grand scheme of things. 

I had been attending the main sessions.  The sessions probably applied to pastors, but frankly, I was bored.  Church planting didn't seem applicable to a new coaching business.  And at the height of my boredom and surliness, I just wanted to pack it in and head home to some comfort food. 

Here's the tricky thing...I knew God had led me to be an exhibitor for the conference.  I didn't want to miss a single potential client or referral He had for me.  So, I stayed and went to the last session.  More about church planting.  Blah, blah blah.  All I heard was Charlie Brown's teacher.  

Until that one moment.  

He began to talk about his interview process for church planting candidates.  He wants to make sure they're called.  He wants to make sure they're ready.  He wants to make sure they're the right fit.  So, he asks them a few simple questions...

Would you do this job if you got paid to do it? 

Would you do this if you needed to raise support? 

Would you be a church planter if you only received a part-time salary and needed to work part-time elsewhere? 

Would you do this for free?  What if you didn't get paid? 

True confession.  I thought he was rambling until that last question.  What made this question stand out for me?  The key to great leadership is a servant's heart.  If we do what we do because we're paid to do it, that just makes us employees.  But when we do what we do because we live and breathe it, that makes us servants.  Servants who can be used for God's kingdom.  

I felt the Spirit nudge me with a question of his own.  Would you continue to coach if you needed to do it for free?  In other words, if your business always stays this size and pastors still walk by your table without even a pause, do you believe in what you're doing enough to do it without a paycheck? 

I stopped in my tracks.  The answer is tricky.  I started a business so I could make money to live on.  And yet, I want to be the kind of coach and leader who would do it because I'm called.  I want to be the kind of coach and leader who would do it because it's who I am. I want to be the kind of coach and leader who helps people change their lives - not for a paycheck, but because I'm a servant. 

And yet, a little part of me still envisions success with a larger coaching practice, more speaking engagements.  In short, getting paid for my ministry.  I was humbled to think that the key to greatness would be in letting God have whatever One Foot Coaching becomes. 

Then I thought about what Paul said about Jesus in Philippians 2: 

"Who, being in very nature God, 

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 

but made himself nothing, 

taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 

And being found in appearance as a man, 

he humbled himself and became obedient..."


Do i serve to get paid, to get credit, or to have significance?  Or do I serve to humble myself before a God who loves me and become obedient?

To be honest, Jesus was God.  I am not.  I walk and I stumble.  I sometimes am in it to be paid - mostly because the bills keep coming.  And sometimes I'm in it because I want to serve with the gifts and talents God has given me.  

But it also made my think about volunteering.  You see, it's a very small percentage of people who even think and dream about being paid for ministry - for serving God.  Most of us, volunteer.  For free. 

And yet, I would say sometimes, even us volunteers, need this question.  Would you do it for free?  Not for money, of course.  But would you do it if you always serve behind the scenes?  What if you never received credit for your time and hard work?  What if you never felt significant?  What if no one ever thanked you?  Would you still serve and by serving lead? 

And it doesn't have to be in the church.  The mom who cooks and cleans and drives without a look backward at all you've done.  Or the neighbor who ploughs the driveway in winter and trims the trees in summer.  The employee who stays late.  The list could go on.  The question is the same;...would we do it because we love God and want to become obedient? 

Last month, I hosted a group coaching session on gifts and talents in my home.  It was a great session on seeing our gifts and talents.  The conversation drifted into a unique question.  What if we don't like the gifts God has given us?  Good questions.  Sometimes we don't get to choose.  Sometimes we get to obey and serve. 

I reflect back on Charlie Brown's teacher at that conference.  For the most part, I walked away untouched by his words.  Until that last session.  

Because, while his questions may seem foolish and don't really tap into skills and strengths of potential church planters.  They do, however, tap into the heart of a leader.  If you want to lead, you must serve.  It's in seeking God's heart that we learn that God isn't impressed with titles, to-do lists, or even the recognition we get.  He's impressed with a heart that serves.  

As I'm writing this, I was asked to do something I didn't want to do.  In my mind, the great debate raged.  Shouldn't that other person do it?  It's not even my job.  That person should come over here and get the thing they need.  And I was reminded once more, that above all my other callings, I'm  called to serve.  Never mind my rant.  How soon can I step out and serve in faith?