Good leadership is needed all over the world. There is global awareness and recognition of the need for good leadership. The important question is, what is good leadership and how does one become a good leader? Furthermore, is the leadership training one receives in the typical American university or seminary adequate for training leaders in the bush in West Africa, remote villages in Central Asia, or the Amazon basin in South America?
In our journey in the Orality Movement, we’ve discovered and implemented some powerful strategies of leadership development that are biblical, simple and reproducible. This leadership training model requires no text-based materials or technological resources.
Once someone has received appropriate Orality training for communicating the gospel and making disciples, they have a foundation and framework to build on for other areas and applications. Now we are seeing how the concepts, principles, and practices of Orality can be effective in such areas as trauma therapy, racial reconciliation, conflict resolution, church planting, addressing tribal conflict, community development, as well as leadership training and many other applications.
In our Orality Leadership Workshops we focus on character development. Knowledge and skill are important but secondary to character. We emphasize that the most important thing about leadership is the leader and his or her character.
What causes leaders to fail
Most leaders don’t fail because of a lack of knowledge or skill, but because of character flaws. Consider the recent failures and downfalls of some corporate CEOs, mega-church pastors, government officials and heads of organizations.
In our Orality Leadership Training with Living Water International we start by asking questions, such as the following:
- What are the most important lessons or principles about leadership?
- Where can we find the best contemporary resources for leadership?
- Who are some of the best models of good leadership today?
- Who has been some of the most effective leaders throughout history?
- Who are good models of leaders in the Bible?
After collecting answers to these questions from the group of trainees, we engage in a guided discovery model of learning. This process may result in identifying as many as 75 to 100 traits, lessons or attributes of leaders and good leadership principles. We then categorize all those under 10 core character values.
Dr. John (Skip) Garmo, founder and former CEO of Character Solutions and author of “The Leader’s SEEcret,” using ten core character values, has provided a framework for this training. While knowledge and skill are important, we emphasize that character is what matters most. To enhance our efforts in training leaders, we have formed a Leadership Development Collaboration Group, made of a wide variety of leadership professionals, business leaders, pastors and mission executives. The goal is to identify the most fruitful practices and learning from the global community of leaders, as well as lessons from history and biblical characters. Then to oralize and contextualize the message and methods, so they are transferable, cross-cultural and reproducible to any place and people group on the planet. Of course, our best example and model for leadership is the Lord Jesus Himself.
In the regions where the church is growing the fastest, the rapidly reproducing church planting and disciple making movements, seem to be the greatest need for leadership training. One of the most basic questions, whether it’s related to communicating the gospel, disciple making, church planting or leadership training, is to consider if we are doing so according to the normal methods that people prefer to receive their news, information, or instructions.
Over the years, I have often heard people say, “Leaders are readers.” Well, that’s great for people who can and will read, and if they have access to reading materials. However, we now know that oral learners and communicators can become good leaders when properly trained.
Our model for leadership
Just as Jesus is our best model and example as a communicator and disciple maker, He is also our best model for leadership training. Not only is He our model and example, but when we are born again, indwelt by His Spirit, made complete in Him, we all have the capacity for influencing and leading others.
There are many examples throughout history of how God has used ordinary people in leadership roles to influence and impact many for His Kingdom purposes. Humanly speaking, we may think of the most well educated, those with certain titles or high profile personalities as being great leaders. However, Samuel Chadwick, in his classic book, “The Way to Pentecost,” gives a great perspective that all spiritual effectiveness can be attributed to the indwelling Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. He writes, “There are other kinds of ability than that which comes of God through the Spirit, but they are death-dealing and never life giving.” He has also said, “It is the this mystery that has filled the history of the Church with anomalies. Inadequate men (and women) are always doing impossible things, and ordinary men achieve extraordinary result. God’s biggest things seem to be done by the most unlikely people.”
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].