Unquestionably, Jesus is the most excellent leader in the history of humankind. Jesus came from a small town and partnered with twelve disciples to spread the Good News. Today, the fire of the church burns strong! But why? It all rests on leadership. Leadership determines how far we go and how fast we get there! My journey as a pastor has taught me important leadership lessons. Let me share a few here!
Build Social Capital: To suggest that social capital is a significant church capital would be an understatement. When God put it into our hearts (my wife Jennifer & I) to plant City Church Nairobi, we went to our very close friends and shared the vision. The encouragement and support we received were immense. Some of those are currently the board members of CCN! They owned the vision. People will value your preaching, but the handshakes (thank God we are not afraid of COVID-19 anymore), hugs, kind words, coffee dates, and visits build social capital. Every leader needs authentic social capital.
Believe the Best in People: Influential leaders always believe in the best in people. Such people will lay their lives down for Jesus when we do this. “The way you see people is the way you treat them; and, the way you treat them is what they become”- Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe. Leadership is not about dominating people but encouraging and engaging them. The leader must have faithful colleagues and lieutenants to share the load. He cannot do everything expected and required alone. The leader is the captain of a great team.
Be a Team Player: Leaders are team players who work well to accomplish things. They operate out of a win-win philosophy and help others collaborate and agree on tasks. We should be able to manage team dynamics and develop team cohesiveness by holding team members accountable for their actions and keeping them focused on the vision. While not every team player is a Michael Jordan or a Kobe Bryant, every team member matters! That’s why there are five on the court!
Walk alone at night, with a few men (Neh. 2:12): On May 25, 2019, we woke up to demolitions on our premises. It has been almost four years of frustration, threats, and uncertainty. But, quite often, I took the blows alone, at times, with a few of my leaders. A leader must shield the church from toxicity. You are the leader; you are not there for a pity-me-party from the congregations. The leader has a bulls-eye on his back. The arrows and darts will come his way, and it’s part of the price he pays. It takes a lot of maturities to receive a dart on your back, face the congregation, and talk about the goodness of God.
Stay Alert! Covid-19 has taught us great lessons. After the Covid-19 quarantines and the curfews, we began to assemble back, albeit slowly, then finally. I believe how we quickly adjusted to the pandemic and kept the church alive spoke about our God-given ability to handle a crisis. The leader must stay current on what’s happening, be in touch with reality, and be adaptable to changes. This ability is called contextual intelligence. Leadership is a never-ending challenge, and every leader must possess an acute sensitivity to the social, political, and technological dynamics, like the men “from Issachar, men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chr. 12:32)
Be a Leader of Character: Values, morals, ethics, and principles grow your authenticity force. People desire stability in leadership and will not stake their lives for one who is fickle. When a leader fails, he is often rejected by those he has been leading because of this breach of the unwritten but enforced moral contract. I must always ask myself: How does my conduct reflect the priorities I have chosen to direct my vision and my lifestyle? A flawed character in seconds can dismantle a leader’s legacy. I have learned to be the same person in public and private. I have learned this, too: A leader has no private life; take that to the bank! Yet, it is so liberating to know I have nothing to hide from the public.
Choose Your Battles: I am not God! He never meant for us to take his place. There are lots of Kingdom concerns that come my way. But I have learned that I must choose where and what to spend my time, treasure, and talent on. I can’t be at the frontlines always. In our church-plant induction training organized by my friend Josh Foliart (MULTIPLI Global), our security trainer Brian Waters reminded me that I must be careful because the enemy would like to strike the shepherd so that the sheep get scattered. Not every battle is worth dying for.
We live in a world where people hunger for opportunity, starve for resources and are stripped of dignity — where many have lost hope. We live at a time when positions matter more than service, and salutes are given more to the uniform than to the person. If we are going to be different, we must be intentional about our leadership. We are notcalled to be bosses. A boss creates fear, and a leader inspires confidence. Stand tall, and give hope!
By Mutinda Musyimi
City Church Nairobi