What does leadership sound like? We usually think of leaders as strong, forceful personalities, loudly proclaiming their God-given vision and their amazing plan to change the world. They speak loudly and influence by declaration and proclamation. They grow in influence by taking courses in public speaking.
Speaking well is certainly an important part of leadership but the Bible has a lot to say about the power of silence!
In this series we’ll discover that silent leadership speaks loudly in many different areas. Servant leaders learn to leverage the sound of silence to increase their influence! Paul provides the general principle for all of life: And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12).
Paul encourages his readers to “make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” Ambition and quiet are not often found in the same sentence! Most leaders are ambitious for many things. They want success. They plan for action. They dream of making money, developing a large church or impacting the world. They love goals! But Paul adds this unusual goal, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” This verse gives three benefits that happen when servant leaders learn to lead with silence.
Silent leadership encourages focus. Paul says that the first benefit of a silent or quiet life is that we will learn to “mind your own business.” Leaders often step out of their own areas of authority to give their opinion on things about which they are not responsible. One of the dangers of speaking many words is that when leaders run out of good things to say, they say bad things or gossip! When they finish speaking truth, they begin sharing “half-truths” and then falsehoods.
Living a quiet life allows the servant leader to focus only on the areas to which God has called him or her. By their example servant leaders influence others to also mind their own business.
Silent leadership gets the job done. Paul challenges us to be quiet and “work with your own hands.”Some leaders spend so much time asking others to help they have no time to work! A quiet life focuses on being an example to others, showing rather than telling. The result is “you will not be dependent on anybody.” Servant leaders quietly get the job done. They lead by doing the work before calling others to join their efforts.
Silent leadership builds respect. Paul calls us to live quietly so that “your daily life may win the respect of outsiders.” Many leaders prepare well for public appearances, but Paul reminds us that servant leaders live a “daily life” of quiet faithfulness. This silent leadership will “win the respect of outsiders.” Leaders who make a lot of noise may be able to impress those on the ‘inside’, but they struggle to increase their influence beyond that circle. Servant leaders learn that silent leadership impacts even those on the ‘outside.’ They build influence by consistently doing what is right.
Paul’s instruction reminds servant leaders that living a quiet life does not reduce influence, it increases it. Servant leaders influence as they live quiet lives. They move up by shutting up!
Until next time, yours on the journey,
For further reflection and discussion:
- In what areas am I tempted to speak which are not my areas of responsibility? What is the result in my leadership?
- Are there areas in which I am calling others to do things I am unwilling to do? What needs to change for me to lead by example?
- Is there any difference between my “daily life” and my public appearances? If so, what needs to change and when will I do it?
- Are there dangers of living a life that is too quiet? How do I guard against these dangers?
- How do I balance the call to live a “quiet life” with the call to be an ambassador for Christ? What are the dangers of going too far in either being quiet or making noise?
In the next issue, we’ll examine the sound of silent leadership…in reflection.
Copyright, Global Disciples 2020.