Examples of leaders who can’t be trusted are endless. But hopefully, you have also come across leaders – and leadership teams – that you trust to lead you and care for you. While we hope this would always be the case in the church, leadership is hard and leaders have feet of clay like all of us.
If you are an elder, deacon, small group leader, or ministry leader in the church, it is critical to develop a healthy leadership culture. Spiritual seekers won’t stay and mature believers will leave if leaders can’t be trusted. Even if you are not on a leadership team in your church, consider the other areas of your life where you may be a leader. Being a leader others can trust is equally important in your family, workplace, and community.
Let’s look at five ways for leaders, and leadership teams, to live and lead in a trust-building way:
- Live with Integrity: Do what you say and say what you do. Lead by example. Practice what you preach. Put Jesus first, be humble, walk in love, and lead first in your home. And be genuine – actually love what you say you love. Leaders who live with integrity build and uphold their credibility (1 Tim. 3:1-13).
- Be Transparent & Opaque: As much as you can regarding the mission, the organization, other leaders, and your personal life – be open and honest. Of course it is possible to overshare, so there must be boundaries. Leaders should be transparent when helpful and opaque when necessary. It is equally important to protect the privacy and confidentiality of others – don’t gossip, spread rumors, publicly criticize, or slander.
- Take Responsibility for Failures: When a leader messes up, he should own his mistakes. Don’t cast blame on others; take responsibility. If your failure is a sin, first take it to God and receive his forgiveness. If your sin impacts your public ministry, apologize to those you are leading and ask them to forgive you. While sinful failures have the potential to ruin leaders, God’s grace is stronger.
- Share your Victories – Just as you must own your failures, you must share the victories you experience in leadership. No leader does it on his own, so lay down your selfish ambition. Don’t take all the credit – say “we” when recognizing wins. This doesn’t mean you downplay your contribution – it is good and right to acknowledge how God has worked through you. False humility and self-deprecation can be both dishonest and steal glory from God! But remember, sharing your victories can’t just be in word only – you actually have to be a leader who delegates, relies on teams, and involves others so there are actually people around you who can genuinely share the victory.
- Cast Consistent Vision – It’s been said, “A leader with no one following him is just a guy taking a walk.” People following a leader, or a leadership team, want to know where they’re going, why they’re going there, how they’ll get there, and what progress they are making. People won’t trust a leader who is constantly changing direction or altering the target on a whim – this will just confuse and frustrate people! Of course plans do change (sometimes because of poor leadership), and so when you do need to change course, take time to explain what is going on to your people.
I have seen firsthand in 20 years of ministry that leadership is a challenge and can often feel like a heavy burden. However, sharing the load with others leaders and having people look to you and trust you, by God’s grace, is a tremendous privilege and a gift!
“Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” | Hebrews 13:7