What kind of leader, daily, without much thought or effort, displays the Fruit of the Spirit?
How does a leader naturally—mindlessly—demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control from moment to moment, situation to situation, person to person.
Or consider the servant leader. How does a leader become a servant leader who naturally—mindlessly—serves those they lead daily in thought, word, and action?
Is is only because that is who they have become.
They have been formed into just the sort of person, who, without stopping to think and deliberate, simply loves others or displays patience, or serves. It flows from their character. It flows from who they have been formed into. It flows from what they love.
And if we seek these sorts of leaders, then we can not simply train the. We must form them. Leadership training and development must become leadership formation.
Knowledge and Formation
A person seeking to become a servant leader may need new knowledge, but they will also need new habits, new values, and new desires. All the knowledge and information in the world about love will not make a leader who loving unless that is who they become. Understanding patience or gentleness will not make a leader patient or gentle. They must be formed into the sort of person who is patient and gentle in their actions.
We don’t think our way through to action; much of our action is not the outcome of rational deliberation and conscious choice. Much of our action is not ‘pushed’ by ideas or conclusion; rather, it grows out of our character… ~ James K.A. Smith || Imagining The Kingdom
Action grows out of character which means that our character forms and shapes our actions. If we seek to develop leaders who would be servant leaders, the question becomes, how do form leaders who serve?
Often, we stop short at simply teaching people about leadership. But clearly this is not enough. Knowledge is rarely transformational until it becomes actionable. So, we must go further. We must form people who not only know leadership but act on the knowledge. Leadership development must be missional. It must end in sending servant leaders into the world. Action should be the result of education. And action, combined with knowledge and skill leads to formation.
Much of character formation is done in the heart. Leadership development, then becomes a matter of heart development. To develop leaders who would be servants, we must capture the hearts of these leaders so that we can form and shape them. And to capture the heart of a leader we must capture their imagination. We must give them a vision and a story that grabs hold and directs the longings of their heart.
If we seek kind, joyful, good, and faithful leaders, then we must capture the imaginations of leaders with the story of joy, goodness, and faithfulness. This, then, will capture their hearts.
Servant leadership, joyful leadership, faithful leadership can never be taught into action. It must be formed into action. The heart of a leader must desire to be a servant because their imagination has been captured with a vision of what it means to be a servant leader in God’s Kingdom.
Formation becomes the capturing of hearts and imaginations, which ultimately shapes the identity. We must do more for leaders than enlisting the intellect. We must enlist the heart through imagination. With the heart we can form the habits, values, and desires of the leader.
We form identity in the heart controlled and imagination filled action… not on whiteboards alone.
We don’t “know” our way into being a servant leader as we “love” our way into being a servant leader.
What we do flows from who we are. Who we are flows from what we love.
Leadership begins with love.