#366 Secure Leaders Encourage

January 31, 2024

In the previous issue we looked at how Jesus was a secure leader because He knew His authority, identity and destiny. His security allowed him to serve His disciples. Now, we’ll look at several ways that secure leaders serve those they lead—first by encouraging. The story of Barnabas gives us a beautiful picture of a secure serving leader, expressed in his encouragement. His name meant “son of encouragement” (see Acts 4:36) and one of his first actions was to encourage the church in Jerusalem to accept the newly converted Saul. Later, the leaders in Jerusalem sent him on an important mission to a new church in Antioch.

22 News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. (Acts 11:22-26a, NIV).

Barnabas arrived at this new church and “encouraged them.” We can learn from his example why secure leaders encourage others well.  

Secure leaders encourage because they focus on others.

Barnabas went to Antioch and saw “what the grace of God had done” in the lives of those in the church. He focused on them, not himself. He did not try to show how important he was and display the credentials that brought him to Antioch. Instead, he focused on those he could serve. Insecure leaders can’t get beyond themselves; their world revolves around their own goals, ambitions and objectives. They want others to focus on them. But secure leaders recognize that their leadership is not about them, it is about others. They are able to focus on those they serve.

Secure leaders encourage because they rejoice with others.

Barnabas arrived and saw evidence of good progress in their lives. He knew he was a “good man” but he was secure enough to be ‘glad’ to see others doing well.  Insecure leaders are not confident in their own ability so they look to others to validate their accomplishments and affirm their progress. They work hard to impress others and call attention to their own achievements. They love to hear followers say how good they are and want others to rejoice with them. But secure leaders are confident in their own roles and look at the success of others and rejoice with them.  They serve by encouraging the progress they see in others.

Secure leaders encourage because they value others.

Barnabas not only encouraged the believers in Antioch, but he also looked for Paul to come and help in the work. He valued the teaching gift that Paul would bring to this team and was not threatened by his gifts. He was secure in his own value so could value others.  Insecure leaders are not confident in their own capacity and calling, so they compete with others in their attempt to get to the top and prove their value. They see the gifts of others as threats to themselves. But secure leaders know who they are, they honestly acknowledge their own strengths and weaknesses. They are not in leadership to push others down or to show how good they are. They value the gifts of others and serve by encouraging all the gifts on the team.    

For further reflection and discussion:

  • Would those around me describe me as a person who encourages them? (If you’re not sure, ask them!) How does the life of Barnabas challenge me to grow in the area of encouragement?
  • How much of my leadership is focused on myself and how much is focused on others? In what practical way today can I focus on and encourage someone on my team?
  • When others do well, what is my default response—to rejoice or be envious? Reflect on a recent example where someone else did well and was recognized for that. Evaluate how you responded. In what way did your response impact your leadership?
  • In what way do I value the gifts of others on my team? What can I do today to acknowledge and affirm the gift of a colleague or team member?         

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issue, we’ll examine how secure leaders delegate.

#365 Secure Leaders are Serving Leaders

January 17, 2024

How secure are you in your leadership role? And how does your personal security as a leader impact your ability to serve others? In this series we’ll examine the differences between secure and insecure leaders and discover why secure leaders are serving leaders. Many persons in positions of leadership are insecure but Jesus modeled a very different way.

3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:3-5, NIV).

Much has been written about Jesus’ actions here, washing the feet of His disciples with water and a towel, the work of a servant. But the verses that precede His actions reveal that His act of service flowed from three things He knew that gave Him security as a leader.  

Secure leaders know their authority.

 Jesus knew that all things were “under his power…” He was aware of the power and authority He carried with His disciples. Because He was secure in his authority, He could stoop to wash the feet of His disciples. His act of serving did not diminish His authority in any way. He had nothing to prove and nothing to hide.

Some leaders are afraid to serve others because they fear it would make them look less powerful. They believe that powerful leaders have others serving them. So, the more that they get others to serve them, the greater of a leader they believe they are. This is a low and distorted view of leadership! Serving leaders are secure and recognize, like Jesus, that they are in a position of authority to bring value to others and to serve them. Serving leaders use their authority for the sake of others, not themselves. This happens only when they are secure in the authority they have.

Secure leaders know their identity.

Jesus knew that His relationship with His Father was the source of His authority and that “he had come from God…” He was secure in who He was. His title or leadership role did not in any way change His identity. He could wash feet without changing who He was.

Insecure leaders by their actions or words ask others, “Don’t you know who I am? I’m the chairman, the CEO, or the pastor!” They want to be seen and recognized as important people and they look to their leadership role as a validation of their identity. They get their identity from their title and cannot serve others because that would seem to lessen their status.

But secure serving leaders are not focused on who they are; they focus on who others are—and seek to build and strengthen those they lead. They don’t need to prove their identity; they are secure in who they are. Therefore they have no problem serving others.

Secure leaders know their destiny.

Jesus was aware that “he was returning to God.” He understood that His ultimate destiny was not tied to His leadership role. Therefore, serving others would not change His future.

Some leaders are afraid to serve others because they fear that if they give power away and build others up, there will be nothing left for them to do! They are afraid to serve because they are not confident of their own destiny.  

But serving leaders are confident about their destiny. They acknowledge that their leadership is not about them or what they will get out of it. They are in leadership to serve others and serve because it is the right thing to do, not because of what they might gain from their actions.

As a secure leader, Jesus served. Secure leaders are serving leaders.

For further reflection and discussion:

  • How secure am I as a leader? What evidence of this do I see in my leadership?
  • Do I use my leadership role to demonstrate my own power and authority? In what ways
  • Are there ways that my identity is tied to my leadership role? What would happen to my perception of myself today if I lost my title or position?
  • Do I ever fear that serving and empowering others may result in me not having anything useful to do? How does this impact my leadership?  

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

In the next issues we will look at the actions of secure leaders, first at how secure leaders encourage.