Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News

Walter Albritton

April 6, 2014


Characteristics of effective leaders


        When Rick Warren speaks people listen. I listen. The popular pastor of Saddleback Church deserves to be heard. Church leaders especially can benefit from Warren’s wisdom.

        This week the title of an article by Warren caught my attention. I was eager to learn what he had to say about “4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Last.” After all the man is a proven leader.

        Insisting that everything rises or falls on leadership, Warren reminds us that the best way to stop a project or an organization is to neutralize its leadership. So, Warren says, leaders who last long enough to achieve their goals must have:

1)   a compelling purpose;

2)   a clear perspective;

3)   a continual prayer life;

4)   a courageous persistence.

         Warren makes a compelling case for his first point: “Great people are just ordinary people who have made a great commitment to a great cause. That cause draws them out of themselves and makes them more than they could be on their own.” He is right. Without a motivating dream or vision no one can lead others in a worthy cause.

        A clear perspective according to Warren is wisdom that has overcome fear. Fear blinds perception. He offers a clever definition of FEAR – “False Evidence Appearing Real.” True wisdom, of course, comes from God.

        Quoting Jesus, Warren reminds us that the Master said we “should always pray and not give up.” Warren insists that we are always doing one or the other: either we pray or we give up. His sage observation: “When the heat is on, when the pressure is on, you’ll either pray or you’ll panic.”

        Finally, persistence bathed in courage is an essential characteristic of a successful leader. If we succeed we must hang in there and keep going especially when the going gets tough. Warren says that in preaching his one great theme for believers has simply been: “Don’t give up!”

        These are indeed four great qualities of effective leaders. I agree. But I would humbly suggest that we consider three more important qualities needed by strong leaders.  

        One, a leader who lasts must have a strong faith in the goodness of God. Faith is essential. Many times are plans are shipwrecked. When that happens we must have sufficient faith to pick up the pieces and walk on while trusting that ultimately God will have the last word. No matter what happens, God’s eternal purposes will not be thwarted.

        Two, a leader who lasts must have the gift of delegation. A wise leader cannot do it all. Effective leaders build a team of people they trust and then give each the opportunity to serve. And most people are inspired to do their part if their leader does not care who gets the credit. A person who craves all the glory will never become a successful leader.

        Three, a leader who lasts must have a contagious sense of humor. Life is cruel. Life is hard. Life is filled with pain, heartache and failure. A healthy sense of humor can help us recover from our hurts and failures. Though the harshness of life will cause us to cry, we can dry our tears and laugh. And laughter can renew our strength. Laughter will not only save the day; it will often save the cause for which we have given our lives.

          Thank you Rick Warren for your leadership example and for reminding us what qualities we need in order to last as effective leaders wherever we serve. + + +