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Core Leadership Competencies: Three Ways of Being a Leader.

Posted: August 6, 2013 by Rob Voyle

There are essentially Three Ways of Being in the World:

The first is to be here for ourselves. This is the narcissistic way, where everything revolves around the person and everything is here for the person. This is the way of King Nebuchadnezzar who boasts of his kingdom as he walks on the roof of his palace. He then has a psychotic break and ends up wandering in the fields eating grass with the ox. (Daniel 4:28-33)

The second way of being is to be here for others. This is the path of unenlightened social worker that results in codependency. (Sadly its a bit too late, but you can tell if you are codependent on your death bed when someone else's life flashes past your eyes ;-)

Being here for others is a big danger for many Christians who naively take to heart the biblical imperative to care for others. The outcome of being here for others is the older brother of the prodigal father story. He is always working hard waiting for his time of blessing to the point that he becomes embittered when others are blessed. This way is also found in those suffering compassion fatigue and burnout.

It is possible that you could compromise between being here for ourselves and being here for others. This is a really good way to be in a perpetual state of tension, always wondering if you have given yourself or others their rightful share. It is also a way of fear. Compromise is not a long term answer to anything as you will ultimately feel compromised which is a very miserable place to be.

Since being here for self, others, or a combination of the two, is not the path to well-being and effectiveness we need another way of being in the world.

The Third way of being in the world is to be here for God. This is the priestly way of being. Peter's "priesthood of all believers" is this way of being. Regardless of whether you are a leader in the church or a plumber or school teacher there is a priestly way of engaging in life and that activity.

This priestly way of being sets us free from the fear of failure and of letting people down and from the manipulations of others and our own desires. It saddens me that many leaders make the commitment to follow Jesus and proclaim him as Lord, only to let parishioners and Board members become the lord of their lives. Serving earthly masters is a great way to ensure a life of misery and ineffectiveness.

To be here for God requires that we know why we are here, why God created us. From my own work with appreciative inquiry I have discovered that each one of us has a unique individual purpose for being in the world. This purpose is often related to the simple things we love to do, cooking, walking, painting, reading, quilting, etc. all point to our eternal purpose.

When we are here for God, manifesting our core purpose we will simultaneously be saying Yes! to God, our neighbors, and ourselves. This is the place of love. This is where effective leadership begins, where we are doing and loving what we are called to do and calling others to do what they were called to do and love.

It is very important to distinguish between being here for God and being here for what we think is God or what others think is God. Too often I see tyrannical behavior done in the name of God that results in very ungodly suffering and misery.

It is not about calling people to do what we want, or us doing what they want, it is about being here for God and doing what God wants. Through the course of my ministry I consistently find that the one thing that God wants is: "God wants to be God," meaning God is not interested in Rob or others playing God.

If you have trouble discerning what God wants ask yourself or your leadership team these two questions:

What is God calling us to do? What is Love calling us to do?

Is the answer the same? If not which do you need to change, your understanding of God or your understanding of Love.

The priestly way of being in the world is to be here in the world for God, to be here for love. It is the place where we are not God and it is the place from which true joy can be found and from which you can freely lead the children of God to become the people of God.

In the next newsletter I will explore "Setting Priorities" as I continue this series on developing your leadership skills.

Leadership Training Programs. If you want to grow your core leadership skills then I invite you to participate in one of our Appreciative Leadership for Transformation programs.

For more information and registration please see:

In the Leadership Training you will learn how you personally can manifest the core competencies of a leader as an agent of transformation in your community.

The leadership training is also a required course in the:

* Certificate of Appreciative Transitional Ministry
* Certificate in Appreciative Coaching

In the meantime I wish you lots of love to lead the people entrusted to your care and encourage you to keep asking:


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About the Author

Rob Voyle

Rob Voyle

The Rev. Dr. Rob Voyle is a leader in the development and use of appreciative inquiry in church and coaching settings.

Rob's Approach to Training

  • Helpful: Training must provide practical, sustainable solutions for today's challenges.
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  • Healing: I create opportunities for people to experience transformational insights that lead to new ways of living, working, and being in the world.

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