The Marks of a Mature Leader
You know, hanging around with preachers must be catching, because for this session, I want to talk about three things. Number one, I’d like to make some comments about the ideas of change. And I listen to so many people talk about how necessary it is to change, if you’re going to be effective.
The trouble with our churches is the services are so dull. You know, you have a song, and then a prayer, and another song. You know when to sit down, and you know when to get up, and you just drone them out.
Well, a couple of years ago I was a guest speaker at Kennedy’s church, you know, the Kennedy of the Kennedy Clan, and they had invited me to come to a Family Life Seminar, and we started on Friday night, and Saturday afternoon this fellow came up, and shoved his hand at me, and said, “My name’s Kennedy.” Well, what an unassuming fellow. I didn’t even know he was in the audience. He had been there all the time, and I was speaking in a church on Sunday morning, and I met him there. He was a quiet, sober sorta of a fellow, and he said, “Would you come into my chambers so that we could fit you with a robe?”
Well, okay. So they fit me with a robe, and we went into that meeting, and you talk about an old-fashioned meeting. He’s very serious, no nonsense, believe me. Sunday morning, and we sat down and got up, and sat down and got up, and we just went through the old-fashioned routine. But you know that big, big auditorium was packed out, and I wondered … ”Where did these people come from?” And they emptied it out and filled it up again. So there’s got to be more to being effective than a simple little solution, like, let’s do it different.
I was at Ray Stedman’s church. Now at Ray Stedman’s church, they don’t even have a pulpit. And I said, “Where’s the choir?” No choir. And during the offertory, this was, mind you, Easter Sunday, he said, “We’re a friendly people around here, and so while we take the offering, why don’t you people just visit with each other, and get acquainted.” And this roar comes up, and all through this huge, packed auditorium on Easter Sunday, you got all these people talking back and forth, and visiting while the offering is taken. Now you couldn’t get any different than Kennedy’s church.
Well let me tell you this, I don’t believe that people come to Kennedy’s church for the routine, nor do they come to Ray Stedman’s church for the lack of routine. You know why they come? Because both of those men have something to say. There’s no substitute for having something to say. So, change for change’s sake is not going to do much, I don’t believe, for your organization.
Couple of years ago we had the national convention of Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlors in Detroit. That’s the company that I was with. And so we asked the marketing director of Ford Motor Car Company to come and address us. And the hour before he came, we were brain storming about how to change and improve Farrell’s, and this fellow sat there, didn’t have anything to say. And then he got up to speak, and said, “I’ve been listening to you fellows talk for the last hour about making changes in Farrell’s.” He said, “Let me just say this to you. That when I knew that I was going to address you, I went over to one of your places for two reasons. One of them is to find out what the attraction is over there that draws my child into Farrell’s, because I spent a lot of money in there. The other reason is that I wanted to see how you did things, because I’m going to speak to you. Now let me give you a caution about change. One time the Ford Motor Car Company had an automobile called the Thunderbird, and it took first place. Just shot up into first place. It was the best selling sports car in the United States. Then somebody wanted a bigger motor, somebody wanted better suspension, somebody wanted to change the wheels, somebody wanted to make it wider, and we changed, changed, changed, changed, and we had a beautiful car. But our sales dropped because we didn’t have a Thunderbird anymore.”
He said, “We had another car called a Mustang. Did you ever hear of the Mustang?” He said, “It was the best-selling small car in the United States, and we started to improve it. We added air conditioning, we changed the wheels, we changed the body, and our sales began to drop. Do you know why? Because we didn’t have a Mustang anymore. It was a nice car, but it wasn’t a Mustang.” And he said, “If you will notice, that was two years ago. And if you folks noticed the market last year, the Ford Motor Car company returned to their original Mustang.”
That’s my first point. Be careful to give yourself such a simplistic notion that if we were to change something that we would do something positive. Now I’m all for change, but change will not be any kind of substitute for you having something to say. And the idea of the church, after all, is to make a contribution to the spiritual lives of the people. That is the purpose of your church, and don’t ever forget it.
Now number two, I’d like to say a word about sacrifice.
A lot of people have the idea that to be sacrificial means to be poor. Or to be sacrificial means that you are prepared to do anything anybody asks you. And if you are sacrificial, you will ignore your talent and your ability. See, a servant does anything that anybody asks. That’s a fallacy. For you to be prepared to work beneath your ability is a fallacy. Oh, I’ve been in my restaurants where I picked up a broom and swept the floor when it needed it, but I’m not really the janitor. I’m the owner. I would do something in an emergency, of course, but my point is that a servant’s job has definition to it.
If I hire a cook, and I come along, and the place is spick –n-span, it’s just sparkling, the lawn is beautiful, the shrubbery is top-notch, except he didn’t cook; and I say, “Where’s the food?”
“Well, I can’t do everything! Look at the lawn, look at the shrubs, look at how clean the place is. I’m sorry I just never got around to cooking.”
You see, that’s like saying, “Goodness, look how smoothly I’m running this place, and look at all the counseling I’m doing. Do you expect me to get around to having an effective sermon, too? I just never made it. You see, you know you would wonder how many people ask me to drive them somewhere, or somebody just dropped in, and I just ran out of time, I’m sorry.”
No, a servant’s duties have boundaries, and the fact that you are a particular servant excludes you from doing other things. Service implies that you’re giving yourself willingly and gladly to a prescribed task. Sacrifice does not mean working beneath your ability, or being poor.
I would like to give you a thought about sacrifice. I used to work. I used to be a member of a football team, and on that team, we had a spirit of sacrifice.
I wanted to be on that team with my whole heart. I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. Now where does the sacrifice come in? I had to sacrifice my own opinion. I had to give up my way, and do it the coach’s way. And on the football field, I had to do it the quarterback’s way. That’s what sacrifice is. I’m committed. That means I exclude other things. I did it knowingly, and gladly, and willingly. And when we played that game, we gave our bodies. I was pulled and beaten, and in the days when I played football, we didn’t have the platoon system, we played the whole game, and I was really battered and bruised, and I gladly gave my body to that game.
I had more fun doing it though. You see, I wasn’t giving up anything. I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing, but I gave my whole being to it. And I would drag myself off that field bruised, and battered, and delighted, and happy. I can remember times when I had to be helped off that field. Now there were times when I helped my buddies off that field. That’s what sacrifice is. It’s giving yourself to the job. It’s not working beneath your ability, or doing something that you wish you didn’t have to do. Sacrifice implies that you’ve got your whole heart, and soul, and body, and money, and everything in it. Okay?
Poor sacrificial me. I have to stay home. That’s not sacrifice, that’s lousy service.
Poor me. Look at the demands these people make on me in this church. That’s not sacrifice, that’s simply withholding yourself from the job.
Now the third thing that I want to talk about are the characteristics of leadership.
Number one: A leader has a record of attainment. There is just no question about it. Let’s take leadership in the home, and I’ve been talking to your wives about them giving leadership to the home. There’s no question about. If the house is neat, the house is neat, and everybody knows it. And everybody recognizes that this is an accomplished housekeeper. This is a skillful housekeeper. Look at those children, there’s got to be some input into those children. This is a skillful mother. You see, that’s the kind of mother and housekeeper that can get a hearing. You have a right to speak. You have a record of attainment.
Now, if you want to get a hearing as a minister, you have to have a record of attainment. He’s a good preacher, no question about it. You see, you don’t mind inviting your friends to a church when you know that this fellow in that pulpit is predictable. You can count on him. He’ll warm your heart. He’s a good teacher. Now, when you came as far as you came to this conference, you have a right to expect that I have something to offer you. It’s worthwhile listening to me.
Now gentlemen, that’s not egotism, this is a minimum requirement for me standing up here, that I have something to say. And one of the minimum requirements of anybody getting up into anybody’s pulpit is that he has something to say, burning on his heart. If you want to get some instruction, you go hear that pastor teach. While I was in Florida last week, and they were talking about this minister in Florida, and they said, “We’ve never heard a better teacher, Doc, you’ve got to go hear him!”
A leader has a record of attainment. A leader has a mission. He has a plan. He’s going somewhere. There’s a reason for doing what you’re doing, and when anybody thinks about you, they think about a man with a plan. A man that’s got something to do. A man that does it well. A man that’s dedicated.
I find myself being dedicated as a layman giving the best I’ve got to God. If you want to be a leader; if you expect people to listen to you, you have to be a man with a mission. A man with a purpose. A man who’s taking the trouble to be prepared to give some direction to his mission, and to give some energy to his mission, and to put money into his mission. And obviously when it comes to the ministry, ‘cause I’ll go talk to some ministers who’d say, “I’d sure change if I knew what to do, I just don’t know anything else, so I gotta ride it out another ten years.” That’s not a man with a mission.
So if you want to put some spizarickum into your church, you’ve got to have a record of attainment. Wouldn’t it be interesting if you are a dull preacher, and people say, “Hey, what’s happening to his sermons? They’re improving. Hey, did you hear that sermon? Do you suppose it’s an exception? Let’s go next Sunday and hear if he can do it twice in a row.” And after a while, you see, you just don’t ask that kind of a question anymore. “I wonder if it’s worth going to church. I wonder if the sermon is gonna be any good? What’s the choir going to be like? How do they run that church?” A record of attainment, and a mission.
I think another important thing about leadership is: This leader needs to be intellectually mature. After all, life is a bundle of issues. One issue after another. One problem after another. All kinds of people are expressing their opinions these days. This is the way to go. The man who’s intellectually mature has made up his mind, he believes something. You can find out what he believes.
Now, there are people who aspire to this kind of approach. “Well, you know how he is on this issue. There are five views. Now let me give you the five.” You see, impress people with the breadth of your knowledge, and then say, “You know, I have a lot of respect for you, and far be it for me to impose my views on you. What matter is it what I think? I have respect for your judgment, and so here are five views. Take your pick.”
That’s a lot different from making it very clear that here I stand. “Dr. Brandt said.” Oh, I can remember the days when I aspired to be a non-directive counselor, and I could have a conversation, a spirited conversation for a whole hour with you, and we blew around a lot of words, but you never did find out what I thought.
And you can design a message that way, too. You know, I’ve had ministers say, “I wouldn’t dare speak the way you do. My people would think that I meant them!” If you’re going to design a message, very carefully tailor a message that doesn’t apply to anybody, and you’re just likely to reach your goal.
When somebody comes up and says, “Did you mean me?”
“Oh, no, I didn’t mean you.”
“You weren’t talking about me? What’s the use of going to your church if you aren’t trying to reach me?”
A man that’s intellectually mature is an individual who stands for something. He believes something.
My son, a few years ago, he was a professor in a graduate school, and the theories that he was hearing didn’t fit with the way I was doing things. I was too dogmatic, he said, I was too specific, I was preaching. And I said, “Right. Your discernment is improving, at least.”
But you know, a few years later he came to me and said, “Hey dad, I’ve been watching these professors around here, and I’ve been watching you, and I’d like to know how can I get in on what you do?”
He said, “I’ve been watching your business affairs, for instance, and goodness, we sometimes have four meetings to decide what we’re meeting about. And I watch you and you go in and say, ’What’s the trouble?’ And you listen to what they have to say, and you make up your mind, and away you go. How can I get in on what you’re doing?”
An intellectually mature person is decisive. He’s not afraid to make up his mind.
My son would say, “Dad, when are you going to get off my back? After all, I’m 29 years old.”
I said, “Dick, I go around the world trying to influence people, do you think I’m going to overlook you? You might as well get used to me, I’ll get off your back when I die.”
“Go away and leave me alone.”
In case you didn’t get it, I came here to influence you, and I think it’s perfectly clear that all of us came here to influence you. We’re not non-committal, we’re not uncommitted. And you need to speak in such a way that you cause your people to make choices. It’s not what the psychologist says, it’s what you say that counts. You’re the custodian of the most important information in the world, aren’t you? Really now, are you? Oh, it would seem to me that anybody here would stand up when you stand up straight and tall. Intellectually mature.
That pastor of ours, he’s a radiant, happy fellow, he helped me with my family. He helped me make up my mind. We like the way he thinks. I remember one time, just a few months ago, I was in Dallas, and I was on a radio talk show, and the emcee that was running the thing asked me what I thought about drinking. And I said, “I think it’s an evil.” You couldn’t believe it. We were sitting by a switchboard, and I didn’t hardly get that out of my mouth, and that switchboard lit right up like a Christmas tree.
And do you know what these people were saying? “Did you really mean it that drinking is evil?” Yes. “Aren’t there any circumstances when drinking makes sense?” No.
But you know what, I got an immediate response! I just couldn’t believe what happened. But you see, that’s what happens. Now I think that you ought to speak in such a way that when I listen to you, I either have to accept or reject what you say, but you’ve made it so plain, that I can’t ignore you. That’s what I’ve tried to do.
That’s what Bill tried to do, to make it so plain that you either had to take it or leave it, but you couldn’t ignore it. I’m not talking about a nervous, anxious, soft-handed fellow, but a radiant, happy, successful, decisive man, with a mission, who has a history of success. And you can start doing a better job Sunday than you ever did before.
And when you are successful, you feel successful. Now I’m not worried about whether you’re gonna have a lot of problems or not. I, in fact, in a profit/net sense, know you will have trouble. You have had trouble. Jesus said it. He said, “In this world, you will have trouble.” That’s what I like about the Bible, it’s so true. I have more trouble. But He said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And that’s our business, isn’t it, to help people understand that?”
Now, the last thing: A leader is emotionally mature. Somebody didn’t do the job, and you’re gonna do something about it, but you’re not mad.
I remember one fellow. I’ve talked with some of these ministers who were asking me, “Do I hire Christians?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know, I’ve learned to realize that when a man says, ‘I’m a Christian,’ that doesn’t tell me anything about him.”
You know what I mean. There are lazy Christians, sloppy Christians, dishonest Christians, undependable Christians. So when you tell me that you’re a Christian, I really don’t know anything about you. But if I investigate you like I do everybody else, and you have the talent, and ability, and the record to do what I need to have done, and here’s somebody that’s not a Christian, I’ll hire you.
I’ve gotta get the work done, and if your record is not as good as his, I’ll hire him. But I’ve had a fellow come up to me, I remember working for me, and I asked him to get some quotations to remove a wall. And I went away, and I came back, and he hadn’t done it.
You know, when I’m walking in the Spirit, that hasn’t got anything to do with my joy, ‘cause he didn’t do his work. I’m just as happy if he did it, or if he didn’t. See, I’m either a happy man trying to figure out what to do with him, or I am an unhappy man trying to figure out what to do with him. But I have to figure out what to do with him.
I said, “Look …”
He said I had given him too many assignments, he didn’t get around to it, so it turned out to be my fault, he said.
So I gave him the assignment again. I went off, came back, and when I came back, it wasn’t done. He didn’t have a quote. So we went through that again, and he admitted that he tended to procrastinate. So I gave him the assignment again, and the third time I came back, and he hadn’t done it, and I said, “You’re fired.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you were mad at me!”
“I’m not mad at you, I’m happily firing you.”
“You wouldn’t fire a Christian brother, would ya?”
“I’m not firing a Christian brother, I’m firing a lousy worker.”
But you see, when you’ve got problems like that, it’s important that you’re emotionally mature, that you’re at ease, and comfortable, and having a lot of fun. Walking around with the burdens of the world. Why am I hostile? ‘Cause I’m a preacher. Naw, naw, no. You’re hostile because you’re carnal.
Why am I hostile? Because I’m a preacher’s wife. No, that’s not why you’re hostile. A leader is emotionally mature.
I’d like to read you a story in the scriptures, a couple of Bible verses. It’s a quick picture of emotional maturity. As a preliminary to this, I was in the Congos many years ago, and a missionary came up to me and asked me if I could help him get a transfer from this station to another station because he couldn’t function well on this station.
He was tense, and anxious, and worried, and he had some problems with rebellion, and he had some problems with bitterness, and so he wanted a transfer. Now what had happened is that some years ago, if you’ll remember, during a Simba uprising, the Simba’s took a position that all educated people have to go, and of course, he was an educated fellow, and being a missionary, and so he had to go. But this one fellow, this was his convert, came up to the missionary. Not only was he his convert, the missionary had helped him get an education, and he had become a leader in the community, and this fellow came up to the missionary and said, “You’re a thief and a liar. You tell us you come out here to minister to us, and all you’re doing is serving yourself. Look at the car you drive, and look at the house you live in. Look at the food you eat, and the servants that you got, and the clothes that you wear. You’re a thief and a liar.”
And he slapped him across the face, and backhanded him on the other side, and grabbed him by the coat lapels, and spit in his face. Well, he got out, and he came to this country, and got a nice easy chair. And he sat in his easy chair, and his mind went back 7,000 miles, and he would sit in that chair and seethe over what happened to him. Have you ever done that? That’s emotional immaturity.
I’ve heard folks say, “I am this way because I had a mother.” I’ve heard folks say, “I’m this way because I have a background.” Then they want to gripe about their mothers, and complain about their backgrounds. And I simply say, “You are that way because you’re carnal. You are emotionally immature.”
You see, the stresses and the strains of life churn you all up on the inside. Then here was this fellow who worked himself into an ulcer over something that happened 7,000 miles away.
Well, things calmed down, and the missionaries went back, and this same fellow came up to this missionary, and said, “Oh, I’ll tell ya those were bad times. Welcome back. Those were confusing days. We heard so many voices, we didn’t know what to believe.”
That’s the way it is with some of us, isn’t it? “I’m awfully sorry the way I treated you. Would you forgive me?”
And the man said, “Oh, forget it. Certainly I’ll forgive you.”But he didn’t.
And that’s when I came along. And that’s when he asked me if he could get a transfer. And I asked him, “How far away would you like to get?”
“Seven thousand miles isn’t far enough.”
And I tried to say to him, “That’s not your problem. Let me read your problem to you.”
So I read him this. You know, this is a missionary, this fellow knew a lot more about the Bible than me. I say, it’s incredible how many people understand the scriptures and don’t take it seriously, and don’t pay any attention to it. And it isn’t so much what does it say, as what do I think about what it says? And a lot of us read the Bible, and say, “I don’t like that, and therefore I’m going to ignore it.”
2nd Corinthians chapter 4, starting with the 7th verse, and we’re talking about he ministry of the Holy Spirit, the work of the Spirit, and Paul calls the Holy Spirit a treasure. And he says that we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power is of God, and not of us. And this is how you’ll respond to life, if that’s in you. A picture of emotional maturity, a history of success, a man with a mission, an intellectually mature man, and an emotionally mature man. That’s the fellow that can tackle the problems that come his way.
“We are troubled on every side, but not distressed.” Oh, I’ve had that experience so many times. When I had no idea what to do with all of my troubles, but not distressed. Oh, we were perplexed. I have a have a few perplexities almost all the time, don’t you? I dare say in this audience, some of you brought some along. You don’t quite know what to do! Oh yes, we’ll be perplexed, but not in despair. Persecuted. Have you got somebody on your back? Somebody’s bugging ya? Somebody’s giving ya a hard time? But not forsaken. Oh, how often do I hear, “Nobody understands me. I’m all alone, poor me. Even my wife doesn’t understand, or my husband.” Any reason that makes sense to you, you use, even if it doesn’t add up. Persecuted? Yes, but not forsaken. Cast down, fired, rejected … I’ve heard people say, “Everything I’ve worked for is gone!!! I’m gonna collapse/, And you do. Always bearing about - where? - in your body,. underneath your skin.
Now I ask you, who can get under your skin? I’m trying to. Nobody can get under your skin. Nobody knows what’s going on under your skin except you. But if you are walking in the Spirit, you will always be bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest. Where? Underneath your skin. And that’s where you have to have the evidence. Underneath your skin. Emotional maturity, so there’s that goose egg.
I’m going to sum it up. Don’t get too preoccupied with change. Get it straight what sacrifice is. And if you want to lead, make sure that you have a record of attainment, and that you have a mission, and that you’re intellectually mature, and that you are emotionally mature, and you’re just a leader.
Remember now as I leave, I trust when you get up with all your cheeriness, you’re gonna stand up straight, and rejoice. Thanksgiving to God that you’re His minister. Bring ‘em on. I can’t wait. Not like that. I can’t wait to get at ‘em. But like that. Thank you very much.