I have also learned that leadership is not always one thing or another. There is a spectrum and sometimes contradictions. While leaders do lead, they must also be willing to follow. They must remain calm when under stress, but not be robotic. Aggressive, but not overbearing. They must be brave, but not reckless. Successful leaders have a competitive spirit, but are also gracious losers. There are times leaders must be quiet, but never completely silent. Additionally, leaders should be humble, but not passive.
After all, if no one is following you, are you really a leader?
Not surprisingly, these leadership principles in business are also effective for me as a leader in Youth Bible Quizzing.
In the 20th year of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, Nehemiah (one of these exiled Jews) was cupbearer to the king. Learning that the remnant of Jews in Jerusalem were distressed because they had no wall to protect the city (having been destroyed in the Babylonian siege) from the nations and people groups living in the surrounding areas, Nehemiah was driven to take action:
Lead Like Nehemiah
He went to the King and asked permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the city.
Principle: He was willing to leave a comfortable situation for something uncomfortable that would have an impact.
Application: When we are willing to get out of our comfort zone, we may discover that we can have more influence than we ever thought possible. Don’t think you can be a coach or the captain of a team? How do you know unless you try? Trust me; I did not think I could lead until I took that step of faith. Now, as a coach and a District Quiz Director, I am always looking for ways to leave the comfort of the routine. If I am bored, then so are my students. Find ways to do something different – and meaningful – every now and again.
RELATED: Posts about avoiding burnout
He received permission, went to Jerusalem, inspected the city, and prioritized rebuilding the wall. Without the wall, there was no protection from outside threats and nothing done inside the city would be safe. Convincing them of the need to rebuild the wall, Nehemiah had them work on the portion of the wall adjacent to their part of the city.
Principle: He assessed the situation, communicated a vision, narrowed the focus, and put together a plan that was meaningful to each of them (protecting their family).
Communicate a vision, narrow the focus, and put together a plan.
While rebuilding the wall, outside enemies started to threaten the work. Nehemiah adjusted the work assignments to ensure everyone was armed and that half of those working would focus on the wall with the other half guarding against a possible attack.
Principle: He adjusted his plans as the circumstances changed to ensure they were able to continue with their mission.
Application: As adult coaches or student leaders, we must adjust our tactical plans as external obstacles arise. Funds get scarce, school activities conflict with competitions, and holidays impact scheduled practice times. Effective leaders fully utilize resources, address issues, and stay focused. Relax, look around, and act decisively. Dictate the situation rather than let the situation dictate to you.
After neutralizing the outside threats, internal issues arose within the group. Nehemiah quickly dealt with the financial condition of many of the poorer families and established a system that allowed for everyone to work, own property, and not be dependent on others for their contribution to the overall project.
Principle: He addressed internal issues directly and ensured everyone was cared for and given an opportunity to contribute while staying focused on their primary goal.
Leadership is not just what you teach, but what you tolerate.
With the wall finished, Nehemiah planned a celebration to recognize the efforts of the people and shared with them the vision of their next focus area.
Principle: He took time to recognize their achievement encouraged them to build on this success for the future.
Application: How are you sharing in the successes and continuing to communicate with your team? By “success”, I do not necessarily mean winning individual awards or team championships. While those things are wonderful and celebratory, to me Youth Bible Quizzing is a success if anyone learns more about the Word of God and strengthen their relationship with Jesus Christ. Promote these success stories to recruit new members as you focus on the future of your program.
At the end of each quiz season, I tend to evaluate if I achieved the goals I set for myself. One of which is to allow God to make a positive difference in the life of at least one student through me. Nehemiah’s response to those trying to divert his attention in chapter 6 encourages me to persevere. Nehemiah said, “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down.” You, too, are doing a great work. Strive to make a difference every day. Be the leader your team needs you to be.