The Key to Leadership

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

The key to effective leadership is the condition of the heart. For true leadership is more than character, more than ability, and more than desire. It’s primarily about the state of the heart. There’s nothing more essential. To be an effective leader you must know your own spiritual state well. Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Make no mistake, when it comes to leadership God is interested in your heart – not your performance, not your polish, not your position, not your power, and not your prowess. Man may look “at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7. And what is God looking for as He looks at the heart? He’s looking for integrity, transparency, and purity. He’s looking for a humble heart, a merciful heart, a malleable heart, and a servant’s heart. For it’s only when the leader has his heart wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord that he can be effectively used by the Lord.

Jack Hayford, pastor of the Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, says, “The depth and height of success in the personal life of the leader … centers in a private venue: the heart. The true measure of a leader is in diametric opposition to his being controlled by techniques or methods, by slogans or statements, or by visible evidences of success, acceptance or recognition. Further, the criterion of a leader’s ultimate measurement comes from a plane higher than human origin. The character of a true leader requires an answer to a call that sounds from the highest source and shapes him in the deepest, most personal corners of his soul. ‘Success’ at these levels – at the highest and deepest – will only be realized as a leader commits to an inner accountability to faithfully, constantly and honestly answer one question: Am I maintaining integrity of heart?”

Are you maintaining integrity of heart? Do you know what to watch out for? Are you aware of how your heart is prone to betray you? Here are some probing questions that leaders should regularly ask of themselves:

  • Is it important for you to be right even when you’re wrong?
  • Are you nervous or worrisome when you’re not in control?
  • Does it bother you when no one notices you?
  • Do you confuse significance with prominence?
  • Are your plans more important than people?
  • Do you consider yourself a cut above the rest?
  • Are you in it for what you can get out of it?
  • Are you a people pleaser rather than a God pleaser?
  • Do you get angry when things don’t go your way?
  • Do you fear rejection?
  • Are you proud of your academic credentials, your status, or your achievements?
  • Do you get frustrated when you’re taken for granted?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions then God’s motives aren’t fully present in your heart. Confession and a restoration of intimacy with God are needed. For it’s only the pure of heart who possess the power of God. So consider Hebrews 10:22 as you endeavor to get your heart in sync with God’s heart; “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience …”

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