The church lobby was filled with people. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a cluster of women gathered around a small-group leader named Kara. The women were silent, hanging on every word. Kara had successfully led two women’s small groups, gaining influence with the women at church. As she gained influence, she used it to impact them by pointing them to Jesus and encouraging them in their spiritual journeys.
Watching Kara that Sunday morning as women gathered around reminded me of the time I first recognized her leadership potential. Just a few years ago, a friend and I gathered to discuss what we saw in Kara. There were three traits that let us know she had leadership potential.
The most important trait for leaders is a desire to emulate the life-giving nature of Jesus. Life-giving people love God. Because they’ve experienced his great love, they love people. A Christian that focuses on right behavior and right doctrine strangles relationships. A life-giving person focuses on the love and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Relationship trumps rules and law.
We are naturally drawn to life-giving people, and people in our church are definitely drawn to Kara. We could clearly see that Kara is life-giving because:
- her speech is encouraging, not gossipy. She focuses on others’ strengths rather than their weaknesses.
- she chooses to see the best in people—not blind to truth, but hopeful in their ability to move forward on the right path.
- she creates a environment that encourages abilities, promotes change, and allows mistakes.
One important mark of a good leader is the ability to listen—really listen. Why is listening so important?
- When a person feels heard, they feel loved—leaders must help others feel loved.
- People who listen well understand that life is about others. They listen because they care about others.
- People who listen well exemplify self-control, which is fruit of the Spirit.
- People who listen well are able to respond wisely rather than act reactively.
- People who listen well also know how to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Several years ago, my daughter and I met a few women for lunch. One woman talked extensively about herself, leaving little room for anyone else to talk. Upon leaving the restaurant, my daughter remarked, “That lady is a selfish listener,” and she was absolutely right. James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” People who listen well to others have a selfless heart and genuinely care for others, and Kara had exemplified good listening in her small group.