I am blessed to be surrounded by lots of leaders in my life. Those who lead down (mentors and disciple-makers), those who lead across (leaders in the trenches with me), and those who lead up (those who I technically lead but influence me equally).
Today, I want to give some shout outs to those who lead down.
Mike Mathews has been a family friend for longer than I've been a part of the family. His vocation is pastor, and I count him as one of the strongest pastors in my life even though I've only heard him give two sermons (and one was the homily at my wedding). It all started on the backyard football field-- when all-time quarterback Mike would set me up in the end zone for a touchdown. The intoxicating thrill blinded me to the realization that he did that for all the kids. All I knew was that Mike believed in me and was willing to create environments for me to win. That built trust that turned into a relationship that I have turned to over and over again for advice, direction, and counsel. About jobs, calling, gifts, pretty much anything that I would consider to be a major life decision.
I think about Russ Robinson who throws out gold mines of wisdom about leadership every time I am around him. I think about Bill Donahue
who helps me think strategically about systems and structures. I think about Dave Buehring
who urges me to lead in out of a proper understanding of the ways of God. I think about Mindy Caliguire
who reminds me that laughing is as important a spiritual discipline as silence and solitude-- and that we need both. I think about Mark Batterson
, who saw potential in me, took some risks, and gave me opportunities to explore gifts I didn't realize I had.
With the exception of Mark, none of these people have any official "leadership position" over me. I follow them because I am impressed by their relationship with Christ, their character, their gifts, and their priorities. I follow them by choice not by paycheck. And I would follow Mark regardless of whether he was my pastor and boss or not.
I'm noticing that leaders who lead down well do the following:
- They make time and space for young leaders.
- They care more about the success of others than their own.
- They create "wins" for those they lead.
- They shoot straight-- both with praise and criticism.
- They have cultivated the soft skill of communicating that they believe in those they lead.
- They take the initiative to reach out to and be available to young leaders.
- They never stop learning. And seek to learn from those they lead.
I could go on and on. These are just a few ways that they are influencing me and I seek to emulate them as I influence others.