In my previous two posts, I introduced the concept of L.E.S.S. Leadership and shared the “L” – Leadership Truth and Leadership Desires and shared the “E”- Leadership behaviors. This idea is born out of the idea of what it would look like for leaders to pursue downward mobility. What would it look like for leader leave behind the pursuits of power, prestige, and position and to instead desire downward mobility? How would a leader forego acclaim, achievement, and accolades to pursue the sort of downward mobility—of being less.
The 80 Steps Down are the equivalent of my “95 Theses” of Leadership.
Part 3: Leadership Practices and Postures
Jesus walked. Your leadership doesn’t need to go any faster than that.
Listening is not an activity that is best done quickly. LESS leaders believe leadership begins with love, but love is best done slowly. Too many leaders are quick. Quick to speak and quick to anger.
It took Jesus thirty years to be ready to launch his ministry and three years to develop those who would lead it after him. Today’s modern leadership culture might consider him a failure for dawdling.
LESS Leaders are not afraid of small. In a culture that worships the “large,” LESS leaders are content that there is just as much faithfulness and power in the small as there is in the large.
All leaders, especially leaders who are building something from the ground up face a temptation to scale quickly. Creating a system that will size is a good thing. But missing the opportunity to do small things now, unscalable things now will ultimately help when the idea does scale.
Leaders should remember that there are lessons to be learned, and opportunities to be had at every level of scale. Let us not miss these possibilities of the “small” in our rush to the “large.”
It is precisely the fact that something will not scale which makes it a precious commodity that is available only for a time. There is power in small that should not be squandered on the way to scale. There are things that you will never again be able to do, that you can do right now. Don’t miss it.
A shepherd, a sling, a stone. Never underestimate what God can do with the insignificant, simple, and small
Large, Famous, and Fast or small, humble, and patient. One feeds the ego of a leader. One feeds the soul of a leader.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much’.” ~ Matthew 25:21
Leaders that stay have an impact that lasts.
Moses spent 40 years learning to stay before he spent 40 years learning to go
Pride, self-centered ambition and self-importance inevitably crowd out God’s love in the life of a leader. Stay humble and Jesus-centered.
LESS Leaders stay in love with others, not themselves. They remain in LOVE with the church, volunteers, members, staff, guests, and their calling.
You need to stop. Just stop.
Two things LESS leaders ask from the Lord, “Help me to worship YOU and help me to stop worshipping myself.”
It’s not yours. It never was. Share it.
LESS leaders do not hoard knowledge, authority, and recognition.
Silence creates space for our soul to listen. It allows you to hear that you are not just what you do.
Silence is the most underutilized of spaces. LESS leaders seek quiet so they can hear more from God and less from themselves.
LESS leaders crucify the need for recognition, acclamation, and self-importance in the space of solitude.
Solitude helps us hear from Jesus. And since our identity is found in Jesus we need to hear from Jesus or risk losing touch with our identity.
Loneliness can make us anxious and desire distraction. Solitude makes us loving and wanting simple satisfactions. Moving into solitude is not moving into loneliness instead it is moving into engagement and company with God. Less of ourselves to find more of God.
The world can manage without you for eight hours.
Too often a leader will neglect sleep in the false belief that they are necessary and needed at all times. This is a lie. It is also an unhealthy habit of the self-important leader. The LESS leader knows that sleep is a time to set themselves “on the shelf” and let the world go on without them.
Sabbath rest is the place where LESS leaders remind themselves they are not omnipotent and omnipresent.
Too many leaders have convinced themselves that they can do everything and be everywhere. LESS leaders see Sabbath as a chance to remind themselves just how false this belief is. Sabbath is one of the surest ways to measure our trust in God.
Stories and leadership share a similar characteristic. Both stories and leadership point our minds, our hearts, and our imaginations to a picture of what should be. Stories and leadership point to a vision of human flourishing.
Stories paint a picture of what the world should be. And leadership does the same. Leadership points our minds and imaginations to what the world should be. It leads us to a vision of the “good life.”
Great leadership grabs us from within and points our hearts and minds to our ultimate aims…that which we should love.
Leadership is writing a story because leadership is a story. It’s a story about people daring to do great things. It’s a story of people struggling, suffering, sacrificing, enduring, moving, acting, failing, and succeeding, and it captures our hearts and imaginations.
Like a story, leadership communicates a grand vision of what should be.
Like a story…leadership should capture the heart and the imagination.
The mark of authentic leadership is scars.
Scars mark the leader. Scars show the cost.
Scars connect us with those we lead. Don’t hide them.
LESS leaders seek to be filled with the “Fruit of the Spirit.”
This should be a leadership job requirement. “Seeking Candidates who are filled with the Fruit of the Spirit…not themselves.”
Leaders have a choice of what they seek to fill themselves. Some will choose fame, success, recognition, accolades, power, position, and prestige. LESS leaders will choose love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. It’s a daily choice. Leaders face a daily battle to be Spirit-led. LESS leaders, daily, resist the desires of the flesh and pursue instead to be Spirit-filled.
Your organization or your team will never be anything you don’t want yourself to be.
LESS Leaders are self-aware, and because of this self-awareness, they have a higher capacity to understand and respect others for who they are.
LESS Leaders are aware they are finite. Thus, developing other leaders is not just a practicality but a spiritual need.
They are self-aware, but not self-absorbed.
LESS leaders put the focus on others.
LESS leaders are influential because their self-forgetfulness make their followers influential.
We are more willing to attach ourselves to leader who can be influenced by us.
We want to know that we will be heard.
We want to know that our ideas matter.
We want to know our feedback is valuable.
We want to know that our suggestions will be considered.
We want to see that we can influence our leaders.
Leaders we can influence will more likely get our loyalty, which, makes them more influential.
A good leader who desires influence will view his or her followers as influential.
LESS leaders are influential because, forgetting themselves, they ensure their followers are influential too.
The LESS leader can only lead others to the extent the Holy Spirit is leading them.
The LESS leader is disciplined in thought, word, and deed. A leader who cannot control themselves has not credibility in leading others.
Less of yourself. Get over yourself.
The price of leadership–the real cost of leadership–is your self-interest–to crucify your selfishness, your desire for acknowledgment, recognition, and notice from anyone except God alone.
LESS leaders pray so that it depends less on them and more on God.
LESS leaders pray with anticipation.
There is joy in the simple and common.
Grow yourself. Stretch yourself. Give more of yourself without losing yourself.
Poor leaders ask only how can you help them reach their goals. LESS leaders will ask how they can help you achieve your potential. They want to stretch others into who they can be.
A Poor leader uses others’ capabilities and talents. LESS leaders grow and develop others’ capabilities and talents.
LESS leaders can get more than a 100% from those they lead and serve because they are helping them learn, grow, stretch to new levels.
Poor leaders usually think about what a follower has done and what they are doing now. LESS leaders also think of who they are becoming.
Your organization or your team will never be anything you don’t want yourself to be.
God has a role. Look for it. Expect it.
All we can do is fill the jars with water. God turns it into the wine. We do the mundane. God does the sacred and the supernatural.
Expecting the supernatural is a LESS leader’s decision to get out of the way.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Most leaders are trying to harvest in season and out the season.
They have lost the sense of seasons and rhythm.
They try to overcome seasons with strategy, methods, plans, and processes.
They try to overcome seasons with their power.
One step…not a sprint. Sometimes one step is enough.
63. Strength of Weakness
Poor leaders use power to hide their weakness.
A LESS leader believes…”…my power is made perfect in weakness.”
If we are unwilling to talk about our weakness, then we are reluctant to reveal the strength of God in our lives.
The world loves to talk about strong and influential leaders. Jesus, however, points us in another way. Jesus demonstrates that real power lies not in our own hands or minds, but in our weakness.
The world will go so far as to say to leaders that they should admit their weakness. The world half-heartedly encourages leaders to recognize their weakness only so that they may discover workarounds or fix the weakness. The world would never be grateful for weakness. But the LESS Leader is thankful for their weakness.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
LESS leaders understand that sharing strengths creates competition, but sharing weakness creates community—it creates strength. A leader’s weakness, powerlessness, and dependence are the conduit for receiving Jesus given grace, strength, and power.
Seek first the Kingdom of God, not our own Kingdom.
To seek the lower places is to choose the towel over the throne.
LESS leadership comes in the form of a servant, not a tyrant.
LESS leadership is found in seeking a cross, not a crown.
A weak leader seeks advancement so that they might be master of a kingdom.
A LESS leader seeks to serve the Master and advance His Kingdom.
As I have said, time and time again, if serving is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you. The character of a Christian leader must cast our self-aggrandizement, self-satisfaction, and self-centeredness, and seek selflessness.
LESS leaders believe that they can still be surprised by Jesus because to be surprised means to not be in control of the situation.
LESS leaders are servants with credibility and capabilities.
Your position exists to serve your followers, not vice versa.
King David should remind us that after you are anointed the leader, you may be called to right back out to the sheep.
One of the best ways to serve others as a leader is to serve as an example of the kind of leader you would want others to develop to be.
If you want to know whether you serve man or serve Christ, honestly ask yourself whose approval you are after? Who are you trying to please?
Some leaders ask, “What sort of person do I need to serve me?” LESS leaders ask, “What sort of person can they become if I serve them?”
LESS Leaders go first, love first, give first, trust first, and they serve first.
Don’t expect others to struggle for you if you will not struggle yourself.
The most laborious struggle is the one inside ourselves.
During His earthly ministry, Christ completely submitted Himself to the will of the Father.
Submission is not a dreary drudgery, but rather an affectionate acceptance between leader and follower.
Leaders still need leading, teachers still need teaching, equippers still need equipping, pastors still need shepherding.
Before one asks God for vision…they should first ask themselves if they are willing to submit in obedience to it when God gives it.
Choosing to serve is choosing to submit. Real service is chosen—a willing choice to serve others.
A LESS leader surrenders ambitions, desires, and achievement to pursue the will of another.
The battle of a leader is not to produce success, results, or achievements, but for faithfulness, trust, and dependence on God above ourselves. It is to allow God to carve our heart, soul, mind, and strength into an image of Himself instead of allowing ourselves to carve “gods” and idols of our inclination and image.
The leader’s battle is to trust God-directed surrender over personal strength and significance. To identify with God or over and against our idols.
“What fools they are who carry around their wooden idols and pray to gods that cannot save!” Isaiah 45:20
Put on the yoke of Christ. Submit, surrender, and learn from Christ. This is the path and the means to influential leadership.
“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character…” ~ Romans 5:3
We as a culture have primarily rejected suffering as a means of growth and development.
A weak leader makes their followers suffer. A LESS leader will suffer for their followers.
A selfish shepherd makes the sheep suffer. A servant shepherd will suffer for the sheep
LESS leaders suffer with and for their followers instead of making their followers suffer for them.
If you are not willing to sacrifice for your vision, no one on your team will either. Have a burden for your vision and others will too.
The price of leadership, the true cost of leadership, is your self-interest. The cost is a cross.
LESS Leadership asks leaders to sacrifice themselves-sacrifice themselves to what they love most-God and others.
Poor leaders make others sacrifice. A LESS Leader knows they are the sacrifice. Watch out for putting limits on your sacrifice. God can ask for more. The only limit is “all.”