Leadership is a privilege but it also has its challenges. If I can be honest with you, of all the challenges I have faced as a ministry leader, without a doubt my biggest challenge is to lead me. What about needing workers? No, it’s leading me. What about leading up or ministry and family balance? Those are important but it’s still leading me. And when you get right to it, I have found that to lead me I have to be intentional. It’s something that doesn’t happen by accident or as a by-product of another kind of leadership. It’s something I must focus on and work at consistently. One of my favorite Scriptures is Proverbs 28:2 (NIV) “When a country is rebellious, it has many rulers, but a man of understanding and knowledge maintains order.” This isn’t just talking about a country, it’s also true with an individual. If I want to lead me, I have to limit who is in charge. Priorities are one of those things everyone says they have but most folks can’t name them in order of importance. If we can’t name them in order of importance, we also have a hard time living them in order of importance. This Scripture says all we have to do to be people of understanding and knowledge is just to maintain order. For me to successfully lead me, there are some “H” factors that I believe we have to get right.
The first is Heart. Proverbs 4:23 (NIV) says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” This is always the starting point of self-evaluation. Why do I do the things I do, and who do I do them for? This is a great question as we look at who really is in charge. I also love Psalm 51:10 (NKJ): “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” This is where I go back to what I learned in Proverbs 28:2 and ask what do I have out of order, and is Jesus really first place?
The next “H” is Home. God established the home before the church, this is something those of us who work in ministry have to constantly remind ourselves. I believe with all my heart “what happens at home is more important than what happens at church.” So, here’s a great question for me: “What is happening at home?” Is my marriage strong? Am I spending the time I need to with my spouse and children to lead my family in the things of God? I believe our families should be our greatest sermon. Making my home my second priority is something I evaluate daily. I plan my family trips, dates and special times first then plan my church stuff around my family.
The third “H” is my personal greatest struggle, Health. If old Jim could tell young Jim something, he’d tell me to “take care of yourself and make time for exercise and stress relievers.” For years, health was not at the top of my list and I’m paying for that now. This is also something you can combine with the first two H’s—you can exercise and work on your relationship with God and include your family. I’m finding that if you do the preventive maintenance all along, it’s better than doing nothing then trying to fix a major problem down the road.
If you don’t do anything else after reading this, please take care of yourself. Which leads me back to the first “H” my heart. Where do I need to repent to get these first three where they need to be? I’ve learned over the years that there’s a big difference in “I’m sorry” and true repentance. Repentance is an about-face, a complete turn around in a different direction. Being good at repenting is a key to leading you.
The forth “H” factor is Hours. How are you spending your time? Most people use their calendar the wrong way. Your calendar is not just a map of how you want to spend your time it should also be a log book of how you actually spent it. If you have not read my book “Beat The Clock,” you should. I give you some detailed steps in learning how to manage the 24 hours God has given you each day to get more done. I believe time is the new money, so whatever I do to manage my money better I should also do to manage my time. After everything is said and done there’s usually more said than done. The good news is with a little time management skills you can fix this.
The fifth “H” is Head. I’ve found that one of the best ways to lead yourself is to constantly examine my thinking. Your thinking controls your actions. If I want to see different actions in any area I have to change my thinking. Second Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
I learned this years ago that all a stronghold is, is believing wrong information. So, we tear down strongholds by replacing wrong information with the truth of God’s Word. Our actions get off because our thinking is off, and our thinking gets off because we start being in control rather than allowing Christ to be in control (LORD). God’s ways are different than our ways, and His ways are always better. This leads us back to heart and evaluating our attitude. I have to ask myself: Am I thankful? Am I grateful? Am I thinking about others and serving or am I thinking about what’s best for me? If you want to change your actions, you must first make changes to your thinking.
The last “H” factor is Heaven. There’s a lot of good things we can do but not all good things are God’s will for me. It’s easy in the ministry to focus on your church and forget about people and families outside of the church. I think for me to be heaven-minded means I can’t lose sight of the big picture—to grow God’s kingdom and not just establish mine. I have to ask myself this question on a regular basis, “Where have I made it about me and not about Jesus?”
Once I’m effectively leading me, now I’m ready to lead others. It’s not something I do once, it’s something I do on a regular basis. It’s not about a national ministry, or a big shot, it’s about being a person your family wants to be like and that others say, “This is a person worth following.”