One of the major challenges of leadership is to remain focussed and purposeful.
We may start that way, but sooner or later, we find ourselves becoming immersed in activities and spinning plates that are little to do with our primary reason for becoming leaders and more to do with just ‘keeping the show on the road’ , or perhaps keeping people happy.
Truly successful leaders avoid these red herrings as much as possible and manage to stay focussed on their mission and calling. In other words, they adopt an ‘intentional’ style of leadership. Indeed, one definition of leadership is: ‘Intentional influence that takes place in the context of a relationship’.
Understanding how we remain intentional when there is constant pressure for us to step in and fill the latest gap that has appeared is anything but easy. However, St Paul was just such a leader and fortunately for us, his writings reveal how he stayed focussed and intentional throughout his ministry life. He had a strong sense of purpose, which is highlighted by his repeated use of the Greek word, hina, in his writings. Hina translates to: ‘so that’, or ‘in order that’.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that (hina) you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that (hina) you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
Paul was very explicit about his purpose: he was ‘exhorting, encouraging and imploring each one of them, as a father would his own children,
“…so that (hina) you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
To be intentional means to know why you are doing something. Paul’s repeated use of the word hina shows just how intentional he remained:
“…so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
“He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.”
Paul was very intentional about the influence he was exerting. He had an overriding purpose – a ‘so that’ vision for his leadership, which provided the context for every instruction, correction or assignment he gave his followers.
The two pre-requisites of intentional leadership:
“There is no limit to what can be achieved by those who don’t mind who gets the credit”
Pre-requisite # 1: Humility.
Intentional leaders are generous in terms of sharing the spotlight.
“This letter is from Paul, Silas and Timothy.”
To be intentional about leadership means that we have to let go of minding who gets the credit. The legacy we leave needs to stand on its own rather than being a memorial to us.
Pre-requisite # 2:
The prioritising of genuine relationships. Intentional leadership has at its heart an openness to scrutiny and a genuine desire to grow real community.
“And you know that the way we lived among you was further proof of the truth of our message”
The results of intentional leadership:
The Ripple Effect:
Paul impacted the Thessalonian church, who turned from idol worship to the true and living God. They then became imitators of Paul and his team. This was the ‘initial splash’ of his leadership. (1 Thes. 1:6)
Not only did the Thessalonians become imitators, they also became examples for others…
”to all believers in Macedonia and Achaia” (1 Thes 1:7) – the beginning of the ‘ripple effect.’
The ripples continue:
“And now the word of the Lord is ringing out from you to people everywhere , even beyond Greece, for wherever we go, we find people telling us about your faith in God. We don’t need to tell them about it …”
“Success is not final,
failure is not
fatal; it is the courage to continue
Think this through
What is the ‘so that’ of your leadership?
What is your ‘so that’ vision?
If you were to write down the ‘so that’ of your leadership – what would it be?
How much of your leadership activity actually goes to furthering your ‘so that’ goals?
Write down a list of your most common and time-consuming activities as a leader. Next to each item on that list write the following:
Then, write next to that the conclusion of that thought. I do (this)…so that… (this goal)
will be achieved.
Some ‘so thats’ will be easier than others, and some ‘so thats’
may well lead you to modifying or even stopping the associated activities.
Think this through
How have you intentionally got close to
and developed relationships with those
you are leading?
For each person, how
would you describe the most effective
way for them to be taught?
Think this through
Can you trace any ripples that have
happened as a result of your own