There are some great leaders in this world. Some of those leaders in the past and present have been found within the New Testament church. Kimberly Sowell has some great insights on what a godly missional leader looks like. Her advice in preparing for a successful mission effort can also be used in the development of those who you are leading as a Christian in business, charity work, volunteer efforts or a congregation.
As you read over Kimberly’s strategies for a successful mission trip think how this advice can apply to the area of life where God has called you to be the leader.
Kimberly has some great advice for anyone seeking to create a strong and productive team.
As a team builder, a godly missions leader:
1. Has two sets of goals for every mission trip. A mission trip is 100% about the ministry you’ll bring to the people of that region, and 100% about the spiritual growth that team members will experience as a result of the trip. Create an environment of spiritual growth. Ask team members to participate in group Bible study and spiritual preparation before you go to the field. Each day while on the field, start each morning with a group devotional and prayer time. End each day with an opportunity to share, reflect, and pray together. Challenge team members to invite the Holy Spirit to fine-tune their hearts anew moment by moment as they serve Him through missions.
2. Is an enabler and an equipper. One of the measures of a successful leader is how effectively his team is able to function on their own. The goal is to prepare others to do more than they could do on their own, and then give them the freedom to accomplish that work. As a missions leader, you will participate in the ministry projects on the field, but you will choose to allow your team members to have the greater opportunity to experience missions. Even when you feel that you’re the most skilled to do a task, you will most often choose to mentor someone else to do that task and then cheer her on as she steps out in faith to do that task.
3. Communicates expectations. It’s easier to set guidelines and expectations before a scenario arises rather than in the midst of a sticky situation. For instance, sharing with team members that they will not be able to email home every day during the mission trip will be better received during a preliminary meeting than once you’re on the field and everyone is asking on day two for access to a computer.
4. Is confident enough to admit that he doesn’t have all the answers. Your team needs to have confidence in you while also noting your full dependence upon God.
5. Delegates. Your team will thrive when each member knows his or her role on the team. Pair people with tasks that match their spiritual gifts, personalities, and skills. Make sure each person has the tools and information necessary to be successful, then step aside and allow people the freedom to accomplish their work within their own personal styles, even if those styles are different from yours. From pre-trip preparation to on-the-field responsibilities, you’ll be better focused and your team will be stronger when you allow others to share the load. (See Exodus 18:13-23.)
6. Allows people room to learn. As a leader, be hands-on enough to bring confidence to your team, but hands-off enough to allow learning to happen through personal experiences. One of the most effective ways to allow people to learn is to allow them to think through a problem on their own with the guidance – but not the dominance – of a godly leader.
7. Brings out the best in others. Your team members will have human frailties, immaturities, and flawed thinking – just like you! You are a team of human beings, but under the Lordship of Christ, you are a mighty army thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). Make the choice to stir up love and good works in each team member (Hebrews 10:24); it will likely cut down on anything negative that Satan may try to “stir up”!
8. Is engaged. God’s leaders of the Bible never stood with their backs against the wall watching others do the work. God’s men and women worked alongside the people.
9. Celebrates success. Did a team member face her fears of praying out loud? Celebrate! Did someone on your team witness for the first time? Give out high fives! The work of missions can be difficult and without thanks; be the first one to rejoice with your team as they grow in real time on the mission field (Romans 12:15).
10. Rallies hope. The world teaches us that in tough times, we must dig deeper. However, we know that there is nothing within us of any worth apart from Christ. In times of trouble, don’t ask your team to dig deeper, but instead to lean harder – to lean upon the hope that is in Christ, which will be an anchor for their souls (Hebrews 6:19).
11. Lends spiritual perspective to every battle. When Elisha’s servant felt afraid and discouraged by the surrounding Syrian army, he turned to Elisha and asked, “What shall we do?” (2 Kings 6:15) Elisha’s heart of leadership seized this teachable moment to help his servant realize there was much more going on than what would meet the eye; the battle was not simply between flesh and blood (Ephesians 6:12). Elisha prayed, “LORD, I pray, open his eyes that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17), and the servant was able to see God’s angelic army who would fight for them. Godly missions leaders help others understand that the work of missions is a spiritual battle, and that God brings us victory against the enemies of darkness.
12. Multiplies leaders. Just as David invested in Solomon, Elijah invested in Elisha, and Paul invested in Timothy, you as a godly missions leader will prayerfully seek out other missions-hearted individuals and invest in them as potential missions leaders for the future.