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4 important characteristics of leaders

| by Tony Llewellyn

Someone once said, “Leadership is the problem, and leadership is the solution.”

When one US president stated publicly that he didn’t like broccoli, broccoli growers protested.  They knew that if the President said he didn’t like something, sales would fall countrywide.

Like it or not, leaders have influence.  So what should we expect from them?

1.  Leaders ask, “What can I give?” not “What can I get?”

Leaders have big-picture thinking.  This is what causes leaders to “get it” when vision is projected.  They grasp long term planning and its importance.  They understand the need to see beyond the here-and-now.

Non-leaders attend church and say, “There’s no children’s programme.  There’s nobody else in our age group.”

Leaders attend the same church and they see opportunities, not deficiencies.  When they realise there’s no children’s program, they say, “Let’s start one.”

If there’s nobody else their age, they think, “This church needs us; we’re the first-fruits in our age group.”

If there’s no outreach, they say, “Let’s do some evangelising here.”

Leaders think: Someone’s got to do it, why shouldn’t it be me?

2.  Followers see a need hoping someone will fill it; leaders see a need and do something

Actually, leaders look for ways to motivate others to get the job done.

Most pastors have people approach them with ideas on what the church should do.  My usual response is, “If the Lord told you about it, there’s a good chance He wants you to do it.”

Funny how that slows them down!

There may be exceptions to that, but if someone has a suggestion, in our church there’s a high probability they’ll find themselves with a job!

3.  Leaders are first to arrive, last to leave

Why is that?  Because leaders care about the church.  They see the value of arriving early, being available, watching for visitors.

I’ve been a Christian for forty years.  I can’t recall a time when I was late for a church meeting, home group, eldership meeting, music rehearsal or any kind of meeting.

Why?  Because I want to be there.  I have enthusiasm for the church.  It’s not just something I fit into my busy life.

John (2:17) applied this description to Jesus: “Zeal for Your house has consumed Me.”  Jesus had a passion for God’s house, a passion for the church.  And if I’m a leader, so should I.  If I don’t, I’m either not a leader, or I’m a leader in crisis.

4.  Leaders will sacrifice for the cause of Christ

Rom 12:8 says that leaders should lead with diligence.  Leadership requires diligence, and diligence requires sacrifice.  Sacrifice means understanding what’s important and putting those things first.

However capable we may be, we still have only twenty-four hours in a day.  Time is finite so we must choose wisely how we spend it.  The non-diligent leader is, in effect, neglecting their gift.

A professor stood before his class and filled a large empty jar with golf balls.

“Is the jar full?” he asked.

“Yes,” they replied.

Then he emptied a box of small pebbles into the jar.  As pebbles rolled into the cracks, he asked again, “Is the jar full?”

“Yes,” they replied again.

He then poured sand into the jar, and again they agreed it was full.  So he poured in a bottle of water.  Finally, it really was full.

The professor explained, “The jar represents your life, and the golf balls are the important things – God, family, friends, health.  If you lost everything else and only they remained, your life would still be full.  The pebbles are other things that matter, like your job and your house.  The sand and water is all the small stuff.  Put the sand in first, and there won’t be enough room for the golf balls or pebbles.

“Instead,” he said, "if you want to fit the big things into life, put them in first.  You must prioritise the things that really matter, otherwise there won’t be enough room left.”

What are the big things in your life?   Are you willing to sacrifice to put those first?  The future of the church is in the hands of those leaders who are willing to sacrifice.

Tony Llewellyn

Tony Llewellyn is an Australian pastor, author, musician and songwriter. He and his beautiful wife Alli have two adult children. Tony authored 11 books on biblical and musical topics, released five CDs and runs two websites: and

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