So often our society’s measures of success depend on things outside our control, which can cause stress, feelings of helplessness and even depression. Success, if it can even really be called that in the Bible, is not measured by profits and productivity, but by pleasing God. It has more to do with our manner, our posture before God. Are we getting to know God and His ways more and more? Are we on God’s agenda? Are we thankful? These are better indicators of "success." In the end, I believe success is obeying God.
Benefits for leaders who are well-mannered:
Assuming a posture of obedience and thankfulness to God brings the leader into a position where they can be productive in ways that please God, which is rewarding.
Benefits for the community with well-mannered leaders:
Leadership that pleases God also blesses the community.
Biblical inspiration and support:
The leadership concept I have named, “well-mannered” springs from the following passage in Colossians 1. It was my attempt to name the posture or way of living life that is described here by Paul:
“9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:9–14, ESV, emphasis mine)
What is it to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” or to be “well-mannered”? In short, it is to be fully pleasing to God. Here Paul provides a list of what is pleasing to God as he describes what it looks like to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord:
1. “bearing fruit in every good work…” (vs 10) So a fruitful life, a life of doing good, pleases God. This reminds me of John 15 when Jesus cautions that in order to bear any fruit at all we, as branches, must be vitally connected to Him, the vine. We are to bear fruit by doing good work, but we are not to do that off on our own but in vital connection to the Lord.
2. “increasing in the knowledge of God…” (vs 10) In order to walk in a manner worthy of God, we must know God’s character, His will and His ways. It makes sense that if we act in alignment with God’s desires, His agenda, that we would please Him. So, to be well-mannered requires continually growing in the knowledge of God, something that occurs as we spend time in His Word individually and with other Christians.
3. “being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with great joy…” (vs. 11) There seems to be good news and bad news in this verse. First, the bad news. There is need for endurance and patience. There is trouble for Christians in this life. But to be well mannered is to endure these hardships. If you don’t feel equal to this demand, you are not alone. People do not have this ability in themselves. The good news is that Christians are empowered by God so they can endure… and endure with joy! Difficult times come, and what a blessing to know that the almighty God strengthens His servants with power to persevere during the hard times… and with joy! When God is our source of power, we can have joy even when things are tough. To be well-mannered is to rely on God’s power in times of difficulty so that we can endure with joy.
4. “giving thanks to the Father…” (vs. 12) Here again this crucial characteristic of the Christian life is listed (see Leadership A to Z: Thankful). God’s servants are able to have perspective in the midst of challenges because we know our future will be with God in His presence and that He is giving us a glorious inheritance. Even when facing loss, we can be thankful our future is secure and will endure.
One day I was with a leader who was mentoring me when a problem came up in their team. I know this person to be constantly growing in their personal relationship with God, their knowledge of the Bible, and in their leadership skills. I was with them as they got the news that there was a problem, and I immediately started to feel overwhelmed. They did not. They smiled and then spoke of the opportunity this problem presented to have some important conversations with the team members involved and to mentor them so they could grow.
This leader’s response had a significant impact on me. As I reflected on this later, I saw how this leader was relying on God’s power and so did not feel overwhelmed like I did when the problem presented itself. They were expecting God was working in the situation and in the people involved. I think this expectation emboldened them to face a problem that seemed overwhelming to me. I even sensed a thankfulness in them for the opportunity this problem provided for good fruit in the team and for personal growth for those involved. I think this leader was a “successful” leader as they approached this situation with courage and confidence, trusting in God. This story provides a glimpse of what I think it looks like for a leader to be “well-mannered” in the way described in Colossians 1.
Pray the prayer.
Colossians 1:9-14 is a prayer. Consider praying it for yourself and/or for your team members this week.
Grow in the knowledge of God.
Consider how you might take a step towards knowing God’s will and His ways better. Are there some good habits you have practiced in the past that have gotten lost along the way that it might be time to dust off and implement again?
Some suggestions include: reading the Bible regularly, meeting with a friend or small group to talk about God, the Bible and life as a Christian, and/or attending church services.
Someone I respect recently shared with me that they have a journal where they regularly record what they are thankful for each day. After a few years of this practice, they said they can see how it has affected their life. Consider regularly writing down in a journal, computer document or smartphone note a few things you for which you are thankful as a way of thanking God for them.
A final word:
is not about profits and productivity...
is about pleasing God.
How do you measure a leader’s success?
Hi! I'm Jeri Howe.
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