One of the critical areas of self-leadership is leading your own personal growth.  For some of us, the time between Christmas and New Year’s is a time of reflection as we prepare to start the new year.  In October, I challenged you to discern 2021 goals for your church, this month I’m asking you to focus on your own personal development as a leader. How might God want to grow you during this next year?  Have you identified areas of growth in your personal life, leadership abilities, skills or emotional health that God would have you pay attention to as we begin the new year?  For some, this comes in the form of some new online training, others seek a one-word theme for the year, while others look at their spiritual disciplines.  Author Aubrey Malphurs, in his book Leading Leaders, identifies four areas of growth for those in church leadership. They are:

The Leader’s Character – Soul Work. This is where we grow in areas such as integrity, teachability (Prov. 19:20), or one of the many qualities of leaders described in the passages on elders and pastors (1 Tim. 3:1-7, Titus 1:6-9 and 1 Peter 5:2). We also see the fruit that the Spirit produces into our lives in Galatians 5:22-23.  As you spend time with God over the holiday, ask Him what area of your character He would like to develop in you in 2021.

The Leader’s Knowledge – Head Work.  The Head Work is where we gain new information.  This is the cognitive aspect of ministry and leadership that answers this question: What do I need to know that would help me be more effective in my leadership? This could be something about developing leaders, preaching, how to walk in the spirit, how to think strategically,understanding culture or something else.  1 Chronicles 12:32 tells us the men of Issachar “had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.”  What area of understanding do you need to grow in as you enter 2021?

The Leader’s Skills – Hand Work.  Psalm 78:72 describes King David this way: “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.”  He was one who at this point had done the soul work but also had developed his skills to lead.  This is where the learning goes beyond books and puts theory into practice.  What are the key skills that would make you more effective as a leader?  Casting vision, preaching, listening, mentoring, decision-making or something else?  What skill might God want you to grow in during 2021?  

The Leader’s Emotions – Heart Work.  Every leader’s emotions affect how s/he leads.  These can be harder emotions such as anger, shame, conviction or hope.  Or softer emotions like joy, peace, negativity or insecurity.  The reality is that all emotions affect our tone of voice, our reactions to challenges and our conversations.  The Scripture tells us to “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Prov. 4:23).  So how do we do the heart work?  First, we learn to identify our emotions and then we bring them to God (Pro. 3:5-6).  What emotions have become persistent in your life that God may want you to bring to Him for healing?

It’s overwhelming to work on your character, knowledge, skill and emotion all at once.  Ask Jesus what his priorities are for your growth.  Then make a plan to carry out what he tells you.  

~ Eric Oleson