As leaders, we face numerous challenges, including many crisis times. One truism about leadership is that we experience our biggest breakthroughs in the crisis times. Embedded in those crisis times are what we refer to at Kingfisher as Discipleship Development Moments. These are the breakthrough moments when we need to make a godly choice, even though that choice is really difficult, and to make the right choice will likely disadvantage us or cause us hardship. A Discipleship Development Moment is a crucial part of growing as disciples of Christ.
If that is true for every single disciple of Christ, how much more is it true for those who are called to leadership? While all disciples grow through encountering and rising to Discipleship Development Moments leaders grow as they encounter and work through Leadership Development Moments. These moments increase our capacity to lead. Our resilience is stretched and enlarged as we face the weight of these moments and choose to continue leading anyway. Every growth step in leadership is preceded by a Leadership Development Moment – maybe several. These struggles are not signs that we are failing as leaders, but rather that we are being stretched and challenged in preparation for greater things.
What are some of the most common struggles that produce Leadership Development Moments which we encounter along the way?
Personal, private struggles.
Leaders often don’t have meaningful; support networks. They encourage accountability in others, but often lack that accountability for themselves. So, when struggles come, they have no means of bringing them into the light with anyone.
Those we lead often look to us to see whether we are walking in the faith we are preaching about. There can be unrealistic expectations from those we lead to have it all figured out and, in effect, be living a sinless life. The burden of this can break us.
Lack of personal space
Leaders are notoriously bad at tending their own souls.
They are so focussed on leading others that they underestimate the importance of leading themselves, and as a result are often on the edge of burnout, as they experience ‘compassion fatigue’, lack of connection with the Lord and a general emotional and physical weariness.
These times of struggle are not signs of failure, but rather Leadership Development opportunities… times of potential growth if handled right.
How do we handle a Leadership Development Moment (LDM)?
Remember…a crisis is not necessarily an LDM. It only becomes an LDM when God uses it to define and shape our approach to and understanding of leadership. That is in His hands, but we can be open to any stretching moment being an LDM by taking these steps:
In a time of crisis or difficulty, a leader needs to lay aside other issues and things that are calling for attention and fully focus on this issue at hand. We need to put on the hat that we need to wear. We take off (for now) whatever other hat we are wearing and we put on the hat relevant to the issue at hand. In other words, we need to fully commit to this situation that has developed; we cannot afford to make a half-hearted, distracted response. Someone with a gift of leadership will recognise storm clouds approaching before they start pouring with rain, and reach for the hat that they need to be wearing.
An LDM needs focus; it needs the leader to put the hat on that’s needed for this particular crisis and to focus on it.
We can go through all the pain and stress of putting the right hat on and stepping up to confront what needs to be confronted and so on, but it still not result in rising to the next level, unless we learn the bigger picture lessons of all of this:
What was this time of crisis and stress all about?
What are we left with as a result?
What was God doing through all of this?
What was he trying to teach us?
How have we changed as a result?
What is different now?
Unless we reflect on these bigger picture issues, the value of the LDM is lost and the likelihood is that a similar crisis will occur again, and again, until we properly reflect and learn the lessons.
Rising to the challenges of an LDM is a draining experience, both emotionally and spiritually. We need a recovery time and those we lead need a recovery time. This can be a simple matter of, if the LDM involved several evening meetings, making sure that we compensate for that by having a few evenings rest. We also need to be honest about any ‘compassion fatigue’ that is setting in as a result of coping, not just with the issue at hand, but with the all the insecurities and issues that it raised in the people that we are leading. Recovery time is not a luxury or an indulgence; it is highly strategic, as we are now on that higher level and, therefore, need to be fresh and sharp to cope with all the new things God is going to be bringing along.
Within all of this is the crucially important aspect of not approaching an LDM on your own. We need the prayer support and the space to talk it through with others. We need to see it for what it is and have the freedom of talking about this stressful time being an LDM and, therefore, what resources we need to focus on it, what the wider context of it is as we reflect on it, and to encourage each other and hold each other accountable for taking the recovery time seriously.
Kingfisher Family celebrates its 30th birthday
ANNOUNCING – NEW RESOURCES.
To keep everyone in the Kingfisher Family better connected with updates, news, resources and prayer needs, we have just launched this new website:
Together with our new Facebook page, Kingfisherfamily. We would love a visit from you!