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Team Leadership from a Biblical Perspective

Servant Leadership The first thing to be considered in developing a theological understanding of team leadership is servant leadership. Servant leadership is at the heart of Christian leadership. Servant Leadership is different from servanthood. All Christians, not just leaders, are called to be servants, serving each other, following Jesus’ example in washing his disciples’ feet, and loving our neighbours as ourselves. Along with that call to servanthood is the need we each have to allow ourselves to receive from Jesus, just as he washed his disciple’s feet.

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When Peter protested, Jesus told him, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me. ‘ (John 13:8) In his inspiring book, Leadership: Trilogy on Leadership and Effective Management, Anthony D’Souza1 states: When discussing leadership and managerial skills, we need remind ourselves that Christian leadership essentially involves service. When we consider the church and/ or church related institutions, we grasp the concept of service. Yet when mention corporations and businesses, the word “service” sounds out of place. Part of the confusion may come from not understanding the true concept of leadership.

For many, the word leadership connotes power, authority, honour, prestige, or personal advantage. That’s not Christian Leadership. Here’s my description of Christian Leadership. It Seeks to be of service, rather than to dominate; Encourages and inspires; Respects rather than exploits others’ personalities; Reflects, prays, and acts on Jesus Christ’s words, “whoever wishes to be first among you, shall be servant, even as the son of man came not be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mt 20:27).

What underpins servant leadership is the motivation behind our actions as leaders. If personal desire was the sole decision criteria, Jesus would have chosen not to go through the pain and suffering on the cross. In the garden at Gethsemane, Jesus prayed, ‘Father if you are willing take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours, be done. ‘(Luke 22:42) The weight of the burden of taking not only our guilt but also our sins themselves, had become too heavy. Even at this point, Jesus could have got up and walked away. Jesus’ leadership modelled? servant leadership? throughout his ministry.

In the same vane, Dave Williams2, in his book, The Art of Pace Setting Leadership says: “Greatness is measured by a person’s unselfish willingness to serve others” [15:1989]. This will require us also to set aside personal gain,? to make sacrifices, and to put the needs of others above the direction we may prefer for ourselves. There are people who are highly career minded, people whose main motivation is to get themselves in a position where they will gain some reward. This is the complete opposite of the leadership Jesus demonstrated. Some may suggest that servant leaders are weak.?

However, nothing could be further from the truth. They? model integrity, where their thoughts, words and actions flow from a consistent desire. The word integrity comes from the Latin word meaning ‘whole’ or ‘complete’, as in integer, or whole number. One of the biggest reasons for leaders losing the respect of their followers is that the lack true integrity where their private lives and thoughts do not match their public statements, or that they are inconsistent, adopting principles that are popular and appropriate to the moment, rather than sticking to their underlying, but potentially unpopular, principles.?

Maintaining integrity? is not always easy! Servant leadership is not a particular style of leadership, but rather relates to the motivation behind a leader’s thoughts, words and actions. Leaders can fit any of the leadership styles described in several literature, and still be very much a servant leader. Servant leaders are not leaders on the basis of their position or leadership role, but rather lead according to their calling, vision and principles.?

One of the challenges for servant leaders is to ensure that their vision and principles are in line with others in their organisation, and therefore it is highly important for them to engage with others to develop a common vision and shared values. Whilst serving others as the heart of leadership may not appear easy, it is perhaps in one sense easier for a leader to be consistent with the vision and values that they hold for themselves, rather than always seeking to live up to an image, to constantly seek opportunities to sell themselves, or to be for ever trying to read the political signals sent out by others.

Shared Responsibility A team is a group of people coming together to collaborate. This collaboration is to reach a shared goal or task for which they hold themselves mutually accountable. A group of people is not necessarily a team. A team is a group of people with a high degree of interdependence geared towards the achievement of a common goal or completion of a task rather than just a group for administrative convenience. A group, by definition, is a number of individuals having some unifying relationship. Team members are deeply committed to each other’s personal growth and success.

That commitment usually transcends the team. A team outperforms a group and outperforms all reasonable expectations given to its individual members. That is, a team has a synergistic effect — one plus one equals a lot more than two. Team members not only cooperate in all aspects of their tasks and goals, they share in what are traditionally thought of as management functions, such as planning, organizing, setting performance goals, assessing the team’s performance, developing their own strategies to manage change, and securing their own resources.

A success or failure is felt by all members, not just the individual. Failures are not blamed on individual members, which gives them the courage to take chances. Successes are felt by every team member, this helps them to set and achieve bigger and better successes. In addition, failure is perceived as a learning lesson Strategy Strategic thinkers have a significant part to play: The men of Issachar in (1 Chron 12:32) had a place in David’s army on account of being men “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do”.?

Issachar contributes just 200 men out of a total force of 336,000, yet these men made a unique contribution. . All of the others are described as “brave warriors”, “armed for battle”, “experienced soldiers” or “armed with every type of weapon”, yet it is clear that the men of Issachar bring knowledge and insight that more than makes up for their lack of fighting force. Biblical leaders who were in tune with God were given clear strategies as to how they would achieve the goal that was set before them. Many of these required unconventional choices.

Gideon was instructed by God to restrict his numerical forces severely and to seek to cause the enemy to panic and flee, undoubtedly reducing the death toll amongst his troops. Joshua was given precise instructions as to how he should take the city of Jericho. Paul chose to follow God in appealing to stand trial in Rome before Caesar, when he could have been set free. George Barna3 [103:2001] says: Strategic leaders are analysts of reality. They observe people and situations and collect empirical information, they run it through their mental grid to arrive at conclusions about the real conditions and opportunities of the world.

They remain sufficiently detached to arrive at objective conclusions. Many strategic leaders view emotions and sensitivity and detrimental to the cause. Their allegiance is to truth and efficiency in making the vision reality. For the Christian leader, prayer not only gives us God’s perspective on what our vision should be, but also on how we should reach it: the decisions and choices necessary for reaching it.? Luke records Jesus giving the Great Commission to the apostles in Acts 1 v 8? telling them that they will be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

In this case there is no clearly articulated strategy – the disciples are scattered from Jerusalem as a result of persecution, and then guided by God stage by stage. (eg Acts 8v26, 13v4) For Jonah, the strategy is clearly outlined, and Jonah is so uncomfortable at the prospect of being used by God in this way that he heads in the opposite direction with well known consequences. Christian leaders will need to trust God as they walk towards the vision, yet be willing to make bold, and possibly unconventional choices as they perceive God is leading them.

For God is in charge: “I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ” (Jeremiah 29:11)Yet this does not mean that Christian leaders should not carry out a strategic analysis of a situation. Luke records Jesus teaching “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it. “(Luke 14:28). George continues to say: Strategic leaders tend to be very through in their investigations and do not hesitate to ask the hard questions.

They don’t mind creating controversy, because their primary quest is to understand reality in order to develop a workable plan. Once they have amassed the facts and carefully analyzed them, strategic leaders are prone to develop creative, albeit sometimes complex solutions. [103] In stressing the importance of the need for full information on the leader’s part, Robert Clinton4, in his book, The Making of a Leader, emphatically says: Leaders show lack of balance by operating on partial knowledge, by manipulating of the situation, or by not balancing various guidance inputs.

Normally, major decisions will see the convergence of God’s voice in the heart (the emotional desires), God’s voice in circumstances (confirmation from mature fellow Christians in the local body in which we participate), and God’s voice in the word. It is the balance of elements that allows us to move with certainty. [146:1988] The bible gives us the principles to determine the strategy. We may or may not be given specific guidance as to how we should approach the vision; we may or may not receive this guidance at the strategic or at the tactical level.

However, just as Jesus taught the disciples to think and act according to the principles of the Kingdom, so we too can develop our understanding of the principles of the Kingdom, and their application to the mission and ministry of our organizations.? Daniel was elevated to high position in the court of Nebuchadnezzar because of his knowledge of God, and served Darius as one of three administrators. Daniel 6:3 indicates that Daniel had exceptional qualities as an administrator.? Good Team Leader In order for a team to succeed, there is need to have a good leader.

The following is an excerpt from www. teal. org. uk Commitment to people Most team members are primarily concerned about relationship and about being valued as a team member, before they are concerned about the task that the team is to undertake. Feeling secure in a group environment is an important pre-requisite before individual contribution. The good team leader is able to spend time building the team, not only when the team starts off, but when a newcomer joins an existing team. Desire to Support and Serve

Whilst team members want to see the ability to lead from the front, they are also strongly motivated by the ability to lead from the back!? Servant leadership from the team leader is vital if team members are in turn, to want to serve each other. This is a particularly key topic for Christian leaders. There is a balance to be struck between a willingness to take on any chores that need to be done by the team, and taking an inappropriate balance of roles so that the leadership is diminished. Enthusiasm, Energy, Inspiration and Expertise

Unsurprisingly team members want to be inspired and motivated by team leadership which has the energy and enthusiasm to fire them up.? However, they also want to feel secure that the team leader has themselves, or has access to,? the necessary expertise to lead the team in the right direction. The leader doesn’t have to be the most knowledgeable of the subject at hand, but if they are not, they must encourage the input of others. Willingness to shoulder responsibility. Team leaders are tested under pressure.

When challenges arise, as they inevitably will, the leader will need to take responsibility to ensure that they are fixed as far as possible and that the team is strengthened as a result. This does not mean that the leader should admit that issues beyond their control are in any way their fault, (although they should be honest in admitting their mistakes), but rather adopt a proactive stance to ensure the team is not deflected from its course. Ability to achieve more as a team. Teams only become a team once there is some synergy within the group i. e. he team process adds value to that which a disparate group of individuals would achieve undirected. ? This is likely to require the team leader to explore leadership models that share the leadership role within the team, to have an understanding of different individuals team roles, strengths and gifts, establish a mutual accountability within the team, and to create a team environment which is open, fun and allows healthy and productive discussion. A Christian Team Leader is one who inspires others to live in a Christ-like manner and lives with integrity.?

This Leader not only directs another to believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ” but also sets an example and inspires others to live as he does.? A Christian Leader helps others in need, shows their passion and love for the Lord, and is humble in all things.? A Christian Leader does not have to be a pastor, deacon, or elder of the church, it is the very people in the choir, an ambitious young adult, or a child memorizing a Bible verse, and these are the Christian Leaders.? In the book, Excellence in Leadership, John White5, [50:1986] states: Good leaders are not workaholics.

They work hard without being in bondage to work itself. They are not frightened of work. They are not frightened of delegating work. A good leader sees work as a means of achieving a specific goal. The value of work is not measured by the status of people who perform a specific type of work. All work is valued by its necessity in achieving the goal. In Nehemiah’s case the goal is to make Jerusalem defensible. To accomplish that Nehemiah both assigned the work to others and participated in the work himself.

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